Tent Draping 101: Simple Guide for DIY Weddings


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We’ve shared banquet hall ideas for ceiling drapes, & now we cover tent draping ideas with options. Yes, it’s possible to spend less on tent décor.

How much you pay to decorate your tent depends on a few things. This includes the style of tent rental, draping dimensions, tent draping fabric, vendors & your draping layout.

It is possible to achieve a beautiful tent wedding without spending too much. We discuss what DIY rentals help make tent draping simple.

How to Setup Simple Tent Draping

  • Measure the tent: Measure the tent interior to determine how much draping you need. Also, measure the tent height to ensure that the draping falls at the right length.
  • Choose the draping material: Select draping material that complements your wedding & color theme. Common choices include voile, organza, & tulle.
  • Install a pipe & drape system: The easiest way to drape a tent is to cover the tent walls. This uses a set of vertical uprights & horizontal crossbars to hang drapes.
  • Hang the draping: Setup the pipe & drape system & hang the draping on crossbars. Use enough draping to cover the interior of your tent. Use clips or ties & secure them in place.
  • Add uplighting: To create a warm, inviting atmosphere, add lighting to the draping. Outdoor cafe lighting or outdoor uplights for trees can be used to highlight the ceiling draping & to create an ambiance.
  • Decorate: Once the draping is in place, rent wedding flowers for garlands, table centerpieces, & chandeliers.
  • Test: Before the wedding day, test the draping & uplights mounting to ensure everything is in place & works.

discover how to set up party tent draping for less

💬 Read our entire (yes entire) guide to avoid high tent draping prices. Stay under budget & become a draping pro!

Average Read Time: 7 minutes 30 seconds

What Type of Tent Rental

Before we cover decorating a pole tent wedding, let’s talk about the different types of tents. Yes, the type of tent matters when it comes to transforming it with DIY tent draping!

there are (3) basic types of tents

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

Example Drape Rental in Pole Tent

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This is your most common type of tent. It’s usually cheaper because it is so readily available. The pole tent holds up the peaks of your tent. These supports are done with either metal poles or wooden stakes.  It is very simple to drape a pole tent since there are many mounting points.

Why are pole tents common?

Frame Tent Drapery Rentals

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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.

What are the benefits of frame tent draping?

  • has more room inside & no poles

  • no poles make space for dance floors

  • overall it looks very good at parties

  • canopy tent drapery fits most clamps

  • hang eucalyptus garlands on the tent

It’s easy to set up tent draping rentals on the outside perimeter. It can be harder to drape from the ceiling (since there are no poles & you will need a ladder).

Rent Engineered Structure Drapery

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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.

What are the drawbacks of engineered structures?

  • sun makes clear tents hot like a sauna

  • tent costs more (tent only last 2 yrs)

  • clear plastic only lasts 2 yrs (from sun)

  • need keder clamps to mount the fabric

  • extra strong frame (hang heavy things)

This tent holds up more weight (for wedding tent lighting, audio, DIY ceiling draping) but takes more time to set up. An engineered structure is great for clients that want a clear tent canopy to let in natural sunlight.

Measure Tent Pipe & Drape

Before we cover how to drape a tent for a wedding you need to know the measurements first. This is referred to as dimensions & measured in feet length by width.

You need to add the dimensions of all 4 walls. If your tent is 40 feet x 60 feet, then you will need a total of 200 linear feet (40+60+40+60) for wedding tent draping.

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

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. a Pro

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.

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.

For example, 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.

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

renting pipe & drape costs less when you do it yourself

Rent everything you need from Ship Our Wedding®. We ship DIY draping kits for outdoor wedding tents nationwide. We share our 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.

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Draping to Cover Tent Poles

First, we will start with the party basics and that is how to decorate 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.

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 at parties.

Our tent pole draping kits are DIY so you save more! Watch our video above & learn how easy it is to start draping poles. Hide tent poles with do it yourself pipe & drape.

How to Drape Tent Walls

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.

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.

Tent sidewalls are hanging plastic walls you rent from the tent company to prevent wind, heat, rain & cold. Wall drapery helps to soften the look of your tent around the perimeters.

rent straight wall draping to cover sidewalls, rent swagged drapery for tents without sidewalls

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.

💡 Tent wall draping is typically done for an entire tent. This means all (4) walls. It may take 3 hrs for a DIY setup with 3-6 people.

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DIY a Circus Tent Entrance

If you want to plan a circus-themed wedding reception then you should consider red & white draping. This is the best way to give the look of a circus tent for your entrance, walls, & ceiling.

Our website only allows you to select one color for wall draping. A DIY hack is to rent one or two of the below kits because both rentals are exactly the same. This allows you to choose (2) different fabric colors for the same rental.

mix different colors of red & white for circus wedding draping

You only need the right colors to make it look like a circus. If red draping isn’t an option then rent red wireless uplighting on white draping to create the look.

👇 Keep reading & learn how to make a circus tent ceiling with draping tutorials.

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.

How to hang fabric from a tent ceiling?

  • 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 tent size

  • liability insurance for hanging equip

Since there are over (30) tent size combinations we can’t 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.

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 to 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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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.

Do you have questions on setting up a tent with draping?

How to Achieve Elegant Draping in a Wedding Tent?

Achieve elegant tent draping by using lightweight fabrics like chiffon or sheer curtains. Hang them in swags or cascades for a romantic and sophisticated look.

What Fabrics Work Best for Wedding Tent Draping?

Fabrics like chiffon, silk, and tulle work well for wedding tent draping. They are lightweight, easy to drape, and create a dreamy atmosphere.

Can Wedding Tent Draping Be DIY?

Yes, wedding tent draping can be a DIY project. Choose simple fabrics and styles, and ensure you have enough hands for installation to achieve a beautiful draped effect.

Tips for Draping Tents in Outdoor Wedding Settings?

In outdoor settings, choose weather-resistant fabrics and secure draping properly to withstand wind. Consider natural elements like flowers or greenery to enhance the outdoor ambiance.

How to Incorporate Lighting with Wedding Tent Draping?

Incorporate lighting by hanging string lights, fairy lights, or LED curtains along with the draping. This adds a magical and romantic touch to the tent.

Are There Budget-Friendly Options for Wedding Tent Draping?

Yes, opt for budget-friendly options like using tulle or repurposing fabrics. DIY draping or renting materials can also help keep costs down.

Can Wedding Tent Draping Transform the Ambiance of a Venue?

Absolutely, tent draping transforms the ambiance of a venue by softening the space, adding elegance, and creating a customized atmosphere that suits the wedding theme.

What are the Latest Trends in Wedding Tent Draping?

Trends include using unique color combinations, incorporating textured fabrics, and experimenting with asymmetrical draping for a modern and stylish look.

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 hope our article on draped tents empowers you to plan the event you deserve. If you have any questions give us a call or message us on chat.

Founders Robert + Nicole Reno

With a combined (4) decades in the industry; we’ve trained hundreds, booked thousands, & partied with millions. Our first-hand experience allows us to empower others to succeed & be great… (read full bio)

Founders Robert + Nicole Reno

With a combined (4) decades in the industry; we’ve trained hundreds, booked thousands, & partied with millions. Our first-hand experience allows us to empower others to succeed & be great… (read full bio)

Plan Your DIY Wedding Under Budget

We saved $15,000 going with Ship Our Wedding

Brad & Annika, Cario Nebraska

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I’m infatuated thank you… hugs + kisses MWAH

Jennifer & Val of Divine Talents

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We were amazed the uplights were really easy

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