Size matters when it comes to tents for a wedding ceremony.

A tent is one easy option as a rain back-up plan for a wedding ceremony. It also is very useful on an overly bright hot, sunny day. Not having the right size tent during a rainy day can really put a damper on your wedding ceremony.

It is a standard piece of advice that I give to couples. They really need to have a good rain back up plan. One option that is often used is to rent an event tent for the day. That way any eventuality is covered (I know you are getting the puns). However, renting a tent that is not right for the event can offer little comfort.

Most tent occupancy calculations say you need six square feet per seated person. If you have one hundred guests then you would need a twenty by thirty tent just for the guests. However, you need to add in an extra twenty percent just for aisle space both through the middle and on the sides. In addition, the presentation area for the ceremony must be factored in. A standard amount for a ceremony for the couple, officiant, signing table, musicians and room for the bridal party would be about two hundred square feet (10 feet deep by 20 feet wide). If you add all this up, then for an audience of one hundred people, you need nine hundred and twenty square feet; almost one thousand square feet or a twenty by fifty foot tent. One additional feature is that the tent should have sides that can be rolled up and down.

We had a rehearsal for an outdoor wedding at the Museum of Civilization. I mentioned to the couple the need for a suitably sized tent that could hold one hundred people in case of rain. They assured me that they had one. The day of the wedding arrived and it was pouring rain. When I arrived at the venue I found an open sided tent that was twenty feet wide by thirty feet long. As the guests arrived it was quite evident that it was not big enough. The presentation area alone took up one third of the tent. The result was that we had one hundred guests cramped in a twenty feet by twenty feet area. They were pouring out the sides into the pouring rain. Many had given up and were just standing outside the tent with umbrellas.

The bride walked out of the Museum under an umbrella to begin her procession. The classical string trio did not look happy. Old expensive wooden instruments and rain do not go well together. Some of the groomsmen tried to protect the musicians’ backs from the rain with some Chinese sun parasols. Unfortunately, the bright dye from the parasols began to run with the water and stained the tuxedo shirts that the musicians were wearing. Since I was on the edge of one side, a groomsman tried to protect me as well. I still ended up with wet pants.

Even though the ceremony venue was unpleasant, the warmth of their hearts still prevailed and made for an overall successful day for the couple. They did graciously pay the dry cleaning bill for the musicians. It was certainly a lesson that size matters when it comes to tents for a wedding ceremony.