The Basics For Tented Events – Part 1

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At the 2013 Idea Factory, the Queens of Tent Décor indulged attendees in some top secret tips for producing a successful tented event. Kelli DuBeau and Casey DeLeone of Exquisite Events in Rhode Island and David Price of Rentals Unlimited joined together to introduce event professionals to the fundamentals of tent set up and décor. In this two-part series, we’ll address some of these tips as well as guidelines and best practices for tented events.

Discovering Your Rental Needs
In the initial planning process of an event, the idea of tenting should be addressed as soon as you decide on an outdoor event. While many clients might prefer to invite guests to enjoy a starry sky throughout the night, weather and other issues may prevent this from becoming a reality. A tent option should always be considered as an alternative in preparation for the unexpected.

The first step in planning a tented event is to make sure tent set-up is allowed. Check with your venue to make sure they allow tents on their grounds and inquire about their regulations. You will also need their help in deciding where to set up as they may have restrictions. Your tented area should stay clear of any electrical or underground utility lines for safety purposes and areas with a flat surface will be most beneficial. In addition to the size of the tent itself, you will need anywhere from a 6 to 12 foot perimeter around the tent for staking and support.

Each state and most cities are governed by fire codes that you will also need to become familiar with. Similar to venue regulations, these codes will address how large your tent must be to accommodate your guests and where exits must be located, etc. National codes require 15 square feet per person for a sit down dinner and 8 square feet for standing room only with exits located at a minimum of 30 feet apart. Mahaffey Tent & Party Rentals has a helpful size estimator that helps you calculate the size of tent needed for your event. Most rental companies can give you suggestions for size based on your needs. Depending on the size and location of your event, you may also be required to purchase a permit for tent set-up.

Once you have accessed and read through these codes, your next step will be deciding what type of tent is best suited for your needs. There are a few different styles of tents used for most events: Pole Tents, Canopy Tents, Frame Tents and Clearspan Tents.

Pole tents are installed on grass or natural land. According to the Queens, pole tents require a stake inserted at every pole and will need 6 feet around the outer perimeter of the tent. They will also have one or more center poles to hold the tent upright. These tents may require a larger land mass in order to provide ample support for the tent cover.

Canopy tents are lightweight and can be installed using stakes directly into the ground or using rope outliers. Canopies are typically used for smaller events needing shade coverage as most are not strong enough to withstand strong winds or rainy conditions. Canopy tents are suitable for corporate picnics and outdoor festivals where coverage is needed for a few smaller areas such as a wristband area or over picnic tables.

Frame tents are typically used on cemented surfaces such as in parking lots or driveways. They also require support systems for each standing pole, but these do not need to be secured in-ground. Instead, water barrels, cement bags and other materials may be used when staking is not allowed.

Clearspan tents use box beam frames to stand without center poles or roped stakes. According to Mahaffey, their sturdiness and durability makes them ideal for long-term placement, such as for festivals and corporate events. They can also be assembled with hard sides or glass panes for an unobstructed view of the outdoors from within the tent.

For unconventional events, you may also consider using yurts, tipis, domes, or ethnic designs, all of which offer traditional coverage from the elements, as well as a unique atmosphere.

In addition to the style of tent, you will also need to decide on the shape and color, as well as if walls, liners or flooring will be needed. Walls and liners help protect against inclement weather and can work as sound barriers from the outside in and the inside out. Most walls or liners can be detached should you decide not to use them during the event, but they are a good item to have on hand.

Flooring options are not available through all rental companies and are less common, but can have a great impact on the atmosphere of your event. Not only does flooring create a formal look, but it can provide comfort for walking and stabilize event equipment. It can also diminish safety hazards caused by walking on unstable ground. Polypropylene panels, plywood, carpet and turf are common options for event flooring. EventDeck has a large assortment of flooring options, if none are available through your tent supplier.

There are many different options for tent and flooring rentals, so shopping around will help in your decision making process. The My Event Tent mobile app is a great resource for helping you source your event needs before deciding on a supplier. Request references from potential vendors and add set-up options into your discussions before settling on the lowest price provider.

Event Set-Up
Generally, the rental company will set up and take down the tent for you. This allows them to accurately secure all poles and prevents damage to the property. They may request access to the grounds a few days prior to the event and tear down a few days after depending on the time of year so you will need to address logistics with your venue early on.

If you plan on using hanging lights or other décor that will need electrical wiring, address this with your rental provider to discuss available options as they may be able to add the wiring for you during the set up process. The city codes we addressed earlier will also address restrictions and guidelines on what options are available for your tent.

Safety concerns should also be addressed and noted during set up to protect all event staff, as well as guests during the event. Some things to be aware of are the locations of stakes and poles around the perimeter, divets/mounds in the ground, and unsecured cables or cords. Exits and walkways should remain cleared and should be visible from all areas within the tent. Depending on the size of your event, some cities may require a safety inspection before the event can begin.

Next month in the May eNews, we’ll discuss tips, guidelines and new trends for decorating your tented event. Sign up now for monthly tips, trends and news updates for the events industry.

April 2013 eNews

About the author : Alyssa Brooks

Alyssa Brooks

Alyssa Brooks is the Marketing Manager for Event Solutions and Catersource. She enjoys planning and marketing events and is always seeking fun and creative new ideas to share with the industry.

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