When Should You Reserve Your Tent?
One part of planning a successful outdoor event is managing deadlines. And not just deadlines for save-the-dates, invitations, showers, RSVPs, meetings, and other tasks! Add to that list of time-sensitive to-do’s: reserving your venue, caterer, photographer, entertainment, and more.
Planning an outdoor event requires a calendar, a lot of pre-planning, and some major time-management skills. This is especially true when it comes to booking vendors. In a small market with a short outdoor event season like Wyoming’s, event vendors book up quickly and you don’t want to be left in the rain (literally).
“We were so glad to have the tent, one less thing to worry about on the big day. The rain in the morning was totally unexpected, but the tables and linens that we set the night before were fine and stayed dry. Totally worth it, thank you so much!” – Stacy Marks, August 2016
If your event is outdoors and your guests have no easy shelter to move to the case of rain or extreme heat, then a tent is something to seriously consider.
But when should you realistically sign the paperwork and commit?
There is no 100% accurate answer for everyone. But if you may need a tent for your event, follow the guidelines below to get a better idea of how best to plan for it and when you should ideally commit to a reservation.
These guidelines assume you have an idea of your venue or possible venue options, and that they may require a tent.
The Tent Reservation Timeline
Immediately – Assess the number of guests.
- You don’t need to know for sure, just assess. When we work with our wedding planning clients, we complete the invite list & guest count assessments first – even before the budget – because every other aspect of the planning process is affected by your guest count.
- After the invite list is done, we identify a range of numbers that include:
- Absolute maximum number who might attend (typically total # invited)
- Number who will realistically attend (this will require going through you list name-by-name, and even reaching out and asking)
- Revisit and update these numbers as you get closer to your event date
6 Months Prior to Your Event – Contact at least three tent rental vendors to request general pricing, service & product availability, and information on deposit & rental policies.
- Even if you’re not sure if you will need a tent, it’s good to do this early. Be sure to let the vendors know your guest count assessments, venue(s) you are considering, why the reasons you are renting a tent (weather, decor, etc).
- Be sure to ask for discount information – for example, at Wyoming Tent & Event Supply we offer discounted pricing for booking early, being the first to book a tent on your date, and for renting additional items like tables, chairs, linens, lighting, and dance floors.
- Ask about the deposit policy and ask for a copy of the rental contract.
- A good tent rental provider will always take the time to answer your questions, provide you with general information about their products, services, and pricing, and will take the time to make recommendations even when you’re in the early stages of event planning. (We’d love to be one of the vendors who has an opportunity to provide you with information!)
4 to 6 Months Prior to Your Event – Identify the tent vendors you may want to work with, and request firm quotes/bids for your event.
- You can request multiple quotes, and many people find it beneficial to request a separate quote for a tent that will accommodate the “maximum number who will attend” and another for the “realistic number who will attend.”
- Ask your tent vendor for their recommendation on sizing if your are still very unsure of your guest count. You will still need to make the ultimate decision, but they should offer advice on permitting (where applicable) and occupancy.
- Ask again about availability and if there are any discounts for booking earlier. A tent vendor may or may not be able to provide you with information about availability, but it never hurts to ask.
3 to 4 Months Prior to Your Event – Reserve your tent!
- Choose a vendor who meets the quality, service, product, policy, and pricing expectations for your event and whom you feel most comfortable working with.
- Complete all the necessary paperwork to reserve your tent.
Of course this timeline cannot apply to every situation or event – but it is important to recognize that tents, especially larger tents that are over 600 square feet, should be planned for and arranged for as far out as reasonably possible. Even at 6 months out from popular weekends we can be completely booked-up for some tent sizes. Other dates, you may be able to reserve within a week’s notice.
Keep in mind that events within city limits require tent permits, and these cannot be filed last-minute. Just one more reason to begin planning and book as early as you realistically can!
Happy party planning!