So you want to get married in a yurt? Or is that a tipi?
Perhaps you picture your dream elegant affair in a marquee? Or maybe it's a sailcloth tent?
Yep, when it comes to housing your guests on a wedding day, not all tents are created equal.
You'd be forgiven for thinking a tent, is simply a tent and, in fact, we thought there were maybe five kinds of tents, tops, when we started putting together the post.
We're now at 10 – and counting!
photo by SMS Photography via Style Me Pretty
Tents are something of a blank canvas (literally!) wedding venue, but, when you're choosing one for your wedding, it is important to think of the vibe you want to create, and the needs you have.
Do you want a boho feel, do you need to let the outdoors in, would you like a massive dancefloor, what kind of lighting requirements do you have? And most importantly, does it need to be rain, snow, wind or sun proof?
Sheesh, there's a lot to consider! But we're here to help – introducing our ultimate guide to choosing the perfect tent for your wedding…
Photo by Jeff Newsom via One Fab Day
You may never have heard of these, but kata tents are more popular than you think – and in Ireland and the UK, they're particularly trendy right now.
Part tipi, part sperry tent – these entirely weatherproof, traditional Nordic tipis are built to last. A great choice if you're planning a festival wedding, or if you want to create a cosy winter bash without taking it indoors.
Modular structures, most companies can adapt the size and shape of your space to meet your requirements by putting a number of tents together. This is a good option for both big and small parties, with flexible spaces whether you want to create a big dancefloor in the centre, or quiet corners for chilling with cocktails.
Image by Wedding Yurts
A yurt is a sturdy timber structure, with bendable sides that make it the perfect pop up wedding venue. While we now speak of yurts in general terms, there are variations, from the Mongolian to the Moroccan.
Yurts will tend to have no, or less poles than a kata, making them a little easier for planning your space, and the nature of a wider, flatter fabric-covered roof, means it should be naturally brighter inside too. These are perfect for everything from a luxe Arabian style wedding, or a rustic country affair.
Photo by Jen Huang via Style Me Pretty
Photo by Helen Cawte Photography via Bridal Musings
If you're simply looking for a room in a field, a marquee is what you're after. Classic, solid, and entirely versatile, marquees can be as striped back, or as opulent as you like, from string lights to chandeliers, simple bunting to silk draping.
The flexible choice, a marquee, (unless it's very big) won't tend to have too many poles in the centre of the space, while roll-up walls, or see-through fabrics, mean you can choose, on the day, to shelter from the elements or bring the outdoors in.
Photo via It's Covered
A little more slick for anyone who doesn't like the fussiness of yurts or tipis, capri marquees tend to be more popular as drinks tents at glitzy parties and events. With open sides, yet curved openings, they're the perfect hot day shady shelter, while still allowing a breeze to flow though.
Cosy and inviting, without being entirely closed off to the outside, this is a great option for chic garden party weddings that go on into the night.
Photo by Delesia Photography via Style Me Pretty
Photo via World Inspired Tents
Fun, unique, and intimate, a tipi-shaped structure is a space your guests will never forget. While they do come in all manner of sizes, single tents tend to be better for smaller gatherings, or as a structure for a chill out area, or sun cover for al fresco bash.
There is lots of overlap with tipis and kata, and really, many rental companies will consider them as the same, so if you have your heart set on a tipi wedding in the desert – don't overlook the Scandinavian tents for a just-as-authentic space.
Photo by Lauren Fair Photography via Style Me Pretty
Photo via Luxe Event Decor
Photo by LPM Bohemia via Rock My Wedding
photo via Raj Tent Club
These are a favourite of many couples, decked out in lights, they look so pretty and inviting from a distance, but still let the outside in. Like a marquee, sides can be added if required, and the space is entirely versatile from a elegant party filled with blooms to a fun whimsical bash laced in bunting.
The signature of a sperry tent is the high top roof (kind of like a circus tent) which is propped up with poles, making it more interesting from the outside than a plain marquee. Authentic Sperry tents are traditionally handcrafted with sailcloth, so speak to your individual rental company to check their tents are waterproof (not just water resistant!).
A variation on the shape of the sperry is a raj tent, also known as an Indian wedding tent, which has ornate fabric and trimming on the outside.
Photos by Cameron Ingalls via Green Wedding Shoes
With their high top ceilings, circus tents cross over somewhat with sperry tents depending on where you source them from. But of course, with their signature stripes, they create a ready-made theme to your wedding.
Circus tents do come with lots of ropes and poles, which do need to be considered when planning out your space – and whether they're blue or red, they're also likely to be darker inside than a plain white tent. But with bags of personality, and supersized options available, circus tents are a fun and flexible choice for your wedding.
Photo by Emily Blake Photography via Style Me Pretty
photo by Lauren Rutherford Photography via One Fab Day
Canopies are handy for enclosed spaces, like walled gardens or courtyards, as a backup for bad weather when a tent won't fit. But, as the one above, they can also work as breezy adornments to create a room-like feel, out in the open.
If you're simply trying to tie a space together, parachute silk, reams of ribbon, tulle, or even a ceiling of lights, looks beautiful.
But if you're weather-proofing your wedding, ensure your canopy, parosol, or gazebo is a sturdy, waterproof fabric – and if it's the kind of thing you'll only put up in the event of bad weather, ensure that either your venue staff, rental company, or bridal party are on hand and know how to assemble/unwind it in advance – stilettos and a foot ladder is not a good idea!
Photo by Blue Rose Pictures via Style Me Pretty
These small structures work as a chic adornments on classic marquees, to add a little interest to the entranceway, or as an additional structure for a bar or seating area at a garden party wedding. Simple and open, these are better for providing shade, rather than shelter.
Chat to your rental company about lighting your Chinese hat tent, as creative lighting can really make them stand out and look rather pretty in an open space.
Photos via LPM Bohemia
A show stopper tent, the pavilion is a little like the raj tend in its Indian origins, but can often be more like a yurt in its design. While smaller, simple options are available, it has evolved into a beautiful wedding structure more akin to botanical glass houses than tents in a field. These are a great option for a weekend wedding where you'll be getting lots of use from your tent.
Lots of companies describe their pavilion tents differently, but if you're looking for something epic and beautiful, ask about luxury yurts and orangery tents as well.
Photo by Katie Pritchard via Green Wedding Shoes
And that's only the start of it, we've found, Moroccan carpet tents, Wendy houses on the beach, parachute tents that reach into the sky …and something called a sui-shi dome.
Whether you're looking for shelter from the rain or the sun, or simply want a unique wedding venue, tents can make the most atmospheric, versatile, and beautiful spaces for your big day.
Now all you have to decide is where to pitch it!
Did you have your wedding in a marquee, sperry, tipi or yurt? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
Check out our top tips on choosing the perfect venue for your wedding.