There’s a reason why so many weddings seem to be cookie-cutter productions. In addition to putting together the biggest party of a couple’s life, there are families to placate, funds to be allocated, guest lists to be trimmed and complex rules of etiquette to be followed. But one thing that can be modified to reflect each couple’s personality and style is the tent structures and interior design for their soiree. Focusing on today’s tent trends and creating ambience with unique design elements can transform today’s weddings into memorable affairs for all.
Fosters’ Tent and Canopy Rentals in West Chazy, N.Y., works with wedding couples primarily in northern New York and the Adirondack Park, where outdoor weddings are extremely popular because of the natural beauty of the area.
Kyle Gagnier, general manager at Fosters’, says the company experienced a noticeable increase in demand for the 2021 season for its tents, flooring, lighting, tables, chairs, tableware, linen, catering equipment, audio and visual equipment, decor and portable restrooms.
“I suspect this is due to very few weddings taking place in 2020 and the restrictions that were in place for indoor venues in our state,” Gagnier says.
Most of Fosters’ weddings take place under a sailcloth tent, as the style seems to align nicely with the rustic aesthetic that is inherent to the Adirondacks. That being said, clear tents are gaining more and more traction within the area.
“People come to our area for vacations and destination weddings because of the Adirondacks and the Adirondack style is usually what they are after,” Gagnier says. “That is the dominant theme here and it is the style that we have built our inventory around.” Gagnier and the rest of the Fosters’ team have noticed that more elaborate lighting installations have become a focus point for most of their clients.
“This usually involves lots of string lights with larger bulbs and creative designs throughout a tent, outdoor space or both,” Gagnier says.
For Encore Events Rentals, weddings are the company’s primary focus of events, as it is based in the wine country of Northern California. Encore provides all aspects of rentals for weddings—from the ceremony, receptions, after-party, catering needs and decor.
“Most of our weddings are outdoors, based on the lovely scenery and weather we typically have in the wine country and California in general,” says Bridget Doherty, president, Encore Events Rentals. “We expect to see that continue with 99 percent of weddings we do being outdoors, and we also expect to see a range of wedding sizes.” Doherty says Encore is continuing to experience the trend of smaller weddings to help manage the COVID risk but notes that large weddings are making a comeback as well. People are ready to celebrate, as some couples have been waiting since 2020 for their wedding.
“In our area, traditional white vinyl tents are used less for weddings. Rather, sailcloth tents are popular, especially with the wood poles. We also have couples asking for custom draping on a tent frame, to offer more design elements for their weddings,” Doherty says. “We are fortunate to have such beautiful landscape around us. As such, clients want to keep those views throughout their events and if a tent is used, to have it fit into their design and feel of the wedding without taking away from the scenery.”
Napa, Calif., is also home to Bright Event Rentals where Michael Prichett, partner, vice president of marketing and sales, predicts 2022 will be the “year of the wedding” as many couples who postponed their weddings due to the pandemic have set their sights on 2022 as the year their weddings will take place.
As a result, venues with outdoor capacities or backyard at-home gatherings are taking center stage and, subsequently, the demand for tent rentals is growing considerably.
As Prichett explains, he is seeing sailcloth, as well as clear and white structures, continue to be a popular inspiration for wedding tenting.
“To keep things feeling ‘outdoors,’ many open-air tents and vineyard cabanas are also being requested,” Prichett says.
On the other side of the country from California, Sugarplum Tent Company services the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area as well as the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Hunt Country region of Virginia.
Like the West Coast, outdoor weddings are very popular in all of these East Coast locations, especially as many Sugarplum Tent clients are uncertain of COVID restrictions or mandate changes and don’t want to risk having to change their event date or venue.
“We are seeing an increase in guest counts as well as increased tent sizes to accommodate a more open floor plan,” says Tara Franklin, director of sales at Sugarplum Tent. “Our most requested tent style is a clear frame or structure tent with a wood wraparound of all of the exposed aluminum pipe and framing. Wedding planners are also asking for greenhouse-style tents—tents that look like permanent structures. We are very fortunate to work in an area with so many talented decor companies who totally transform the space, making it hard to tell you are even in a tent.”
Mike Holland, president of Chattanooga Tent and Event Solutions in Chattanooga, Tenn., also is seeing a trend in the number of guests continuing to increase throughout 2022 as wedding couples continue to embrace both outdoor and venue weddings. Since 1934, Chattanooga Tent has been providing tents, flooring, tables, chairs, glassware and other elements for events.
Because of the company’s long-standing history within the events arena, Holland has his finger on the pulse of the tenting industry, especially as it relates to weddings. “We feel that the sailcloth look will remain popular with our customers. The popularity of structures or frame tents will remain high also due to the fact that they can be customized to meet so many different looks.”
While traditional white tents are popular for the exterior of the tent, the design elements under the tent significantly add to a wedding’s ambience. Doherty says accent colors such as blush, gold and neutrals are popular and can be incorporated in wedding design elements.
“We also expect to see pops of color and elements of ‘fun’ at weddings. This often shows up in colorful lounges and sofas, or linens with pattern, texture and color,” Doherty says. “Blue is still a popular color to incorporate into weddings as well, and green has become more popular during the past year or two.”
Encore recently created a custom green bar and is working on a blue version as well. Doherty expects those to be popular for wedding couples who want pops of color incorporated.
“We are seeing couples wanting to make their wedding a beautiful celebration, now more than ever,” Doherty says. “This includes incorporating design and features that are unique and specific to them, as well as fun elements that guests see and notice.”
At Bright Event Rentals, Prichett is also seeing an interest in “twinkle light tunnels” swagging over long tables, as well as the use of chandeliers and personalized arched backdrops taking the place of the neon signage trend that had gripped the industry for the last several years.
There is also a sustainability factor with regard to tented wedding events, whereby couples are booking venues and tenting structures for such locales as botanic gardens, private beaches or wineries to utilize existing flowers, greenery, natural backdrops and lighting.
“We are also seeing a desert or bohemian trend, which is inspired by nature and being outdoors,” Prichett says. “Cactus, succulents and pampas grass are used in place of traditional flowers and there are wooden elements being used in tables and seating.”
To embrace the challenges of outdoor wedding venues, especially for weddings held in a backyard, Franklin and her team at Sugarplum Tent Company are seeing increased interest in clear acrylic floors over pools as clients are getting creative using the space at their homes to accommodate growing guest lists.
“Separate lounge and dance tents are also big with wedding planners to create a separate ‘vibe’ after the formal seated dinner,” Franklin says. “And we are still getting a lot of requests for hanging decor in the tent ceiling, chandeliers, greenery, floral rings, you name it. Every inch of the tent is thoughtfully planned out.”
Within the Chattanooga market, bistro or café lights are still trending and Holland sees wedding clients mixing different sizes and shapes of tables. In addition, lounge furniture, bourbon and cigar lounges, and a more personal experience are also trending.
And while overall tent exteriors have not been dramatically affected by the pandemic, Fosters’ has experienced some clients wanting more space for guests to spread out and feel more comfortable. “Other than that, it has really been business as usual,” Gagnier says.
The team at Encore Events Rentals is seeing couples continuing to have lounge furniture at their weddings, but with several smaller furniture arrangements to give some space for small groups to sit and enjoy. Dougherty expects that trend to continue.
“Being different is what many customers are looking for,” Holland says. “So be prepared to think out of the box.”
Maura Keller is a freelance writer based in Plymouth, Minn.
SIDEBAR: Trends in linens
While tenting structures, flooring, lighting, tables and seating are the focal points for many weddings, trends in tablecloths, chair covers, runners, drapes and sashes dramatically affect the overall aesthetics of a wedding. As Michelle Harris, business development manager at Choice Party Linens Inc. in Prospect Park, Pa. points out, bare farm tables have been a trend for the last few years but this year her company is finding a lot more couples are opting for luxe linens instead.
“We’re seeing less plain white and ivory. Rather, couples in 2022 are making very bold color choices,” Harris says. “We are seeing color combinations such as burgundy and black or slate blue; emerald paired with hot pink; and raspberry and blues.”
And while muted and pastel palettes have been popular for a couple of years now, this year Choice Party Linens is seeing vibrant color palettes such as blues, greens, orchid and bubblegum pink.
“Faux silk dupioni is very popular,” Harris says. “This is a reversible fabric which is available in tons of colors. Our marble table linens have also been very popular. These add instant style to any event. We anticipate seeing velvet, lace and more dupioni.”