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! Today we are going to share with you our tent draping ideas so you have more options. Tent decor 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 setup party tent draping for less

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. Do you want to achieve a low budget DIY wedding tent? Continue reading & become a draping pro 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 really focus on how it affects you from a budget stand point.

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 holds 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 there are no poles 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 setup 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 means open floor plan (especially for dance floor)
– overall it looks very good
– setting up 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 but takes additional time to setup. An engineered structure is 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
– expensive rental (clear plastic breaks down more quickly so cost more)
– you need special keder clamps to create mounting points for 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. This is referred to as dimensions. You need the length x width of your tent. For example if your tent is a 40 foot x 60 foot. Then you will need a total 200 linear feet for wedding tent draping.

Add walls to get perimeter measurements (ex: 40′ + 60′ + 40′ + 60′ = 200 feet)

In the same example above you can also figure a width of 40′. 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 tents 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 other article that covers the pros and cons to going DIY

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.

Most people don’t know that renting pipe & drape can cost less if they go DIY.

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. You can rent everything you need from Ship Our Wedding®. They rent DIY draping kits for outdoor wedding tents. They 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 looks 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 setup & 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 side walls 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 side walls then you can opt for straight wall draping that is swagged back for openings only.

tent side walls are plastic walls that hang on tents to protect guests from 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 days before your event. This means you are able to 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 setup. This requires experience and 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. There are other ways that 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 side wall to the opposite side wall. We recommend the drape attaches to the middle pole holding up the canopy. You will be limited by the amount of poles in the middle of your tent. Partial canopy tent draping gives an amazing look, just like in our video above.

this the best way to drape your ceiling without spending too much money

A frame tent and engineered structure don’t have middle poles. How do you setup 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 do it under budget is with our DIY tent draping kits.

tell us in the comments below if you have questions about how to setup 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 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

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