To Tent or Not To Tent

When planning a wedding in Lake Tahoe the question of should we or should we not have a tent is bound to come up in your planning process. A bride and groom may have a certain aesthetic they are dreaming of for their day and that doesn’t involve a tent. Or, there may be a very strong chance of rain or snow for your outdoor wedding date and a tent quickly becomes a must.

We talked with some of the top planners in the region and Tahoe Unveiled members about the pros and cons of tenting your wedding. Vanessa from One Fine Day Events and Kerry of Blue Sky Events shared with us their expert knowledge and what you need to know about this important decision.

Vanessa,  Principal Planner from One Fine Day Events brings wedding dreams to life and her expertly crafted designs often involve tents. She shared with us her pros and cons for tenting.

Pros of Tenting  

You get to design the space from the ground up. When you choose to have your wedding and reception inside a tent, you get to choose all of the finishes of the space. You don’t have to design around dated wallpaper or loud carpet, low ceilings, and someone else’s choice of chandeliers.

You can have a roof over your head, but still feel like you’re outdoors since you can leave the walls off! Guests can flow freely in and out, and there’s nothing to obstruct your views in any direction. A tented reception space creates an open-air feeling that’s impossible to achieve inside a ballroom.

You can have a beautiful insurance policy built into your event. At any time of the year in Tahoe, the weather can be unpredictable. It could be unseasonably hot in June, so your guests will love the shade inside the tent during dinner. Or, it can be super cold and rainy on your August wedding day, but everyone still has a warm and dry place to hang out.

Natural lighting. The detail shots of your tables, the toasts, and all those great candids during dinner can be lit by the sun (or the sunset!) rather than artificial lights indoors.

Cons of Tenting

Setup and placement can be tricky! Rarely do we have a large open space that’s completely flat, with no irrigation lines underneath or low-hanging branches overhead. We often have to fit a rectangular tent into an oddly shaped space and work around several obstacles to make it fit. Plus, if we can’t stake the tent to anchor it (either because we’re on a hard surface like asphalt, or there are water or gas lines that might get damaged) we have to use ballasts or large concrete anchors which can be an eyesore, and take up valuable square footage. However, if you have a planner that knows how to design around these things and a good tent company that can handle the setup challenges, then the ability to personalize the space makes it totally worth it.

A tent is a temporary structure and it is not suitable for any extreme weather. A bit of wind or a passing summer storm isn’t a big deal, but an all-day downpour or a bunch of snow will, at best, mean you’re confined to the tent throughout your event, and at worst, make the tent unsafe to be in. On the flip side, a clear tent on a hot summer day will feel like a greenhouse – very uncomfortable! Always rent a tent from a reputable company that takes care of and stands by their equipment, even if that means paying a little extra. The only thing worse than a rained-out wedding day is having to spend it inside a leaky tent!

A tented wedding usually means you don’t have access to a venue’s supplies or power. You have to also rent all of your tables and chairs, dinnerware, linens and glassware, lighting and sound equipment, a generator to power everything, and sometimes even a floor. There’s definitely an added cost of having those items delivered, set up, and returned. In addition to the expense, it means having to make a lot more decisions and coordinate more vendors to make it all happen.

An early curfew. All outdoor events have to end at 10 pm everywhere in the Tahoe basin. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set until at least 8 pm, which means you only get two hours or less of prime party time before you have to shut down or move somewhere indoors for an after-party.


Kerry Hawk from Blue Sky Events loves an open air wedding, but shared with us that there is more to meets the eye than just saying yes or no to a tent.

“We love a wedding under the stars in the forest amongst the trees without coverage, but we always have a backup plan!  Our clients think of the cost of the tent in the same way we think of purchasing insurance. We put it in the budget right from the start so we don’t have any surprises,” she adds.

Also, mountain weather is very unpredictable, it’s important to have a backup plan for all our events, whether it’s a tent or an indoor location. Imagine a year of planning, guests flying in from around the country and the world, and one mountain thunderstorm comes in to soak the wedding. This is something we don’t ever want to experience! Tents can be tricky though, there are a lot of new regulations and permitting that we have to comply with.

And there you have it from the pros! Whether you say yes or no to a tent at your Tahoe wedding, make sure you find the best way to stay true to your wedding style while being prepared for whatever elements may appear on your wedding day.

One Fine Day Events / Blue Sky Events / Anna Marks Photography / Mike Larson / Lexia Frank Photography / Elise Events / Joel Serrato