Simple Tent Draping 101: Guide for DIY Weddings


How the heck do you drape a tent for a wedding on a budget?!

You are in luck! We’ve already shared how to drape a banquet hall ceiling, now we cover tent draping ideas so you have more options. Tent décor doesn’t have to be expensive.

How much you pay to decorate your tent depends on many factors. This includes the style of tent rental, your draping dimensions, the tent draping fabric, who you hire & what kind of draping layout you choose.

discover exactly how to set up party tent draping for less

Do you want to achieve a low-budget DIY tent wedding? After you read our guide you will not only know what causes tent draping to have high prices but how you can do it for less.

We will even cover some excellent DIY rentals for simple tent draping. Continue reading & become a draping aficionado today!

Average Read Time: 6 minutes 45 seconds

What Type of Tent Rental

Yes, the type of tent matters when it comes to transforming it with DIY tent draping. There are (3) basic types of tents and we cover them below.

These have different pros and cons (especially when it comes to draping a tent). We focus on how it affects you from a budget standpoint.

Example Drape Rental in Pole Tent

This is your most common type of tent. Since it is so readily available it is usually cheaper. The supports can be done either with metal poles or wooden stakes. A pole tent has poles that hold up the peaks of your tent. It is very simple to drape a pole tent because of the many mounting points.

Here are some pros:

  • very affordable

  • can attach tent draping kits anywhere

  • you can almost use any type of clamp

  • sets up very fast

Frame Tent Drapery Rentals

This tent is just like a pole tent. However, no poles are holding up the center canopy. This is suspended with a metal frame, meaning there are no barriers in the center of your tent.

It is very easy to set up tent draping rentals on the outside perimeter. However, it is more difficult to drape from the ceiling (since there are no poles).

  • has more room inside because no poles

  • no poles for open floor plan with dance floor

  • overall it looks very good

  • canopy tent drapery requires clamps

Rent Drapery for an Engineered Structure

Also referred to as a clear span tent, this is more expensive than a pole or frame tent. It is much larger because of the special beams & aircraft cables that hold it together.

This allows it to hold up more weight (for hanging string lights & draping) but this takes additional time to set up. An engineered structure is also great for clients that want a clear tent to let in the sun.

This tent comes with a few negative points:

  • clear tents get hot because of the sun

  • pricey (clear plastic breaks down, less ROI)

  • need keder clamps to mount the fabric

How to Measure Pipe & Drape for Tent

Before we cover how to drape a tent for a wedding you need to know measurements first (commonly referred to as dimensions). You need the length x width of your tent. If your tent is 40 feet x 60 feet, then you will need a total of 200 linear feet for wedding tent draping.

Add walls for perimeter dimensions (ex: 40′ + 60′ + 40′ + 60′ = 200 feet)

As the same example let’s use a width of 40 feet. Want a draped tent ceiling? Two swags of 25′ long fabric combined will look nice.

This is because you can drape 50′ of fabric in a 40′ span to create tent ceiling draping. Continue reading to learn more about how to use these draping measurements.

DIY Tent Drapes vs. Hiring a Draping Vendor

Okay so let’s recap. You know the type of tent and how to measure the size of your tent. The next decision you need to make is who will drape your tent. You have (2) options. Either you can hire a local draping company or you can drape the tent yourself for less.

read our article about the pros & cons of planning a DIY wedding

So how much does it costs to hire a company to drape a tent? They will have labor, overhead, travel & other expenses. This averages to $15 – $20 per foot.

So 200 feet of tent perimeter draping may cost upwards of $3000 – $6000. Here is a video testimonial of a client that saved $15,000 on their wedding draping by going DIY.

📦 Rent Draping & Uplighting

There are many styles that you can do yourself. It is very easy to hang fabric in tents without hiring vendors. You don’t even need to purchase fabric for tent draping.

renting pipe & drape costs less if you go DIY

You can rent everything you need from Ship Our Wedding®. We rent DIY draping kits for outdoor wedding tents. We have helped drape thousands of tents & share their expert knowledge through easy-to-follow tutorial videos.

Do you want to rent cheap drapes for tents that look amazing? Read below to learn the different styles of tent drapery for your wedding.

Cover Tent Poles with Fabric

First, we will start with the basics and that is covering your tent poles. Seriously, who wants to look at ugly boring poles all night?

Keep in mind that those same bare poles will be in all your wedding photos. How do you cover tent poles with fabric at a fraction of the price? It is easy & affordable with our DIY tent leg drapes.

📦 Rent Tent Pole Draping

You can choose to cover all of your tent poles or just the visible poles behind your head table. The tent pole drapes take only minutes to set up & look simply gorgeous.

Best of all, our tent pole draping kits are DIY so you save more! Watch our video above & learn how easy it is to hide tent poles with pipe & drape.

How to Drape Tent Walls & Sides

Draping your tent walls takes more time than covering poles with drapes. So this will also require more equipment (which takes time).

You can choose from either straight tent draping or swagged tent draping (both are shown in the video below). The style you use depends on your tent sidewalls which we will explain next.

📦 Rent Tent Perimeter Draping

Tent sidewalls keep the elements out. There are sidewalls without & sidewalls with windows. If you have no sidewalls, then you will have to swag back every opening of your tent to account for wind.

If your tent has partial or complete sidewalls then you can opt for straight wall draping that is swagged back for openings only.

tent sidewalls are hanging plastic walls to prevent wind, heat, rain & cold

Tent wall draping is typically done for the entire tent. This includes all 4 walls. It will take a couple of hours for a DIY setup using 3-6 people.

If your event is happening at your house, then your tent will be delivered a couple of days before your event. This means you can drape your tent walls with plenty of time so you can have fun & enjoy the setup.

How to Drape a Tent Ceiling

Tent canopy draping can be simple or complex. Covering an entire tent ceiling with fabric requires A LOT of effort. This can take as long as 20 hours to set up.

This requires experience & everything below:

  • multiple tall heavy a-frame ladders

  • scissor lifts

  • bare metal aircraft cables & snips

  • a large team of people

  • turnbuckles

  • sometimes custom clamps/brackets

  • fabric custom cut/sewn for the tent size

  • liability insurance from overhead rigging

Since there are over (30) tent size combinations we won’t be able to cover all the options for completely draping a tent ceiling. Other ways look just as great with minimal setup. Let’s discuss a popular pipe & drape kit that works in frame, pole & engineered tents.

📦 Rent Tent Ceiling Draping

You can drape a pole tent with fabric that spans from the short sidewall to the opposite sidewall. This is called a swag. We recommend the drape attaches to the middle pole holding up the canopy.

You will be limited by the number of poles in the middle of your tent. Partial canopy tent draping gives an amazing look, just like in our video above.

swags are the best way to drape a ceiling on a budget without spending too much

Frame tents and engineered structures don’t have middle poles. How do you set up tent ceiling draping without middle supports?

We recommend using keder clamp rentals that attach directly to the beams. This will fit into the engineered structure rails or the frame of your tent. We recommend renting (1-3) keder clamps per row of tent drapes.

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What is the Best Wedding Tent Drapery

So there you have it that is all our draping ideas for tents. We covered the (3) types of tents. We also shared the (3) main styles of draping used in tents at parties.

It is a personal decision to hire a vendor or choose to do it yourself. The best way to plan it under budget is with our DIY tent draping kits.

tell us if you have questions about how to set up a tent with draping

Don’t feel intimidated with DIY wedding tents. If hiring a wedding draping vendor takes you over budget then consider going DIY. You can do it yourself & save money by following our tutorial videos.

We believe everyone should be able to plan an incredible event. We hope our article on draped tents empowers you to plan the event you deserve.

XO Team Ship

Let's Plan Your DIY Wedding Under Budget

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