Best Wedding Canopies

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best wedding canopies

When planning an outdoor wedding, the one thing you can’t control, of course, is the weather. If you don’t want your guests to be roasting in the sun or soggy from the rain, a wedding canopy ensures that your special day will be perfect.

Basic wedding canopies are tents that simply provide coverage for a small group of people. More expensive models tend to be much larger and may have a decorative flair to them, like window panels or a peaked roof.

You'll want to find a tent that can accommodate all of your guests, but the capacity will vary depending on the style of tables you choose or how large the dance floor is. You should also consider how easily your tent can be used for future events and how difficult it is to set up.

Even a small wedding canopy is an investment, so it’s important to find a meeting point between your wedding budget and your needs.

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People are likely to spend the majority of the wedding reception under your canopy. It should be comfortable and inviting.

Key considerations

A wedding canopy needs to do several things: provide a pleasant outdoor atmosphere, protect guests from sun and rain, and comfortably accommodate guests as well as tables and chairs. There is already plenty of planning involved in your wedding day — and finding the perfect canopy is no exception, as you don’t want to run into any surprises a few hours before guests arrive.


First and foremost, your tent should be able to fit all of your guests comfortably. Manufacturers list the capacity of their tent, but unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as trusting their numbers. Every wedding is different, and you will need more space for your guests if you have a round-table seating arrangement for dining versus a row of chairs for your ceremony.

A good rule of thumb is to allow around 12 square feet per guest if you have round tables. This may sound like a lot, but you don’t want people backing their chairs into each other or squeezing between tables.

If your canopy will be used for the ceremony with rows of chairs for seating, you will need around six square feet per guest.

These rules apply only to the area where guests will be seated. It doesn’t take into consideration a dance floor, stage, or row of buffet tables. Get out your calculator and do a bit of math — you will be thankful come your wedding day.

Canopy design

The three most common types of canopy tents offer different amounts of space and different overall looks:

  • Pole tents vary greatly in size and rely on a combination of vertical poles and staked ties to support the canopy. While these tents are space-efficient and affordable, you will need extra space around the tent for the stakes, which can be a tripping hazard. Setup is reasonably straightforward and requires only a few people. The highest quality pole tents are tension tents, which have tall poles in the middle that create a peaked roof that is both elegant and wind-resistant.

  • Frame tents don’t rely on support poles in the middle of the tent, allowing for a more open setup with no visibility issues. Though they are sturdier than pole tents and don’t rely on stakes, they are a more expensive option. In addition, setup can be involved and require several people.

  • Pop-up tents, as the name implies, are simple to set up and only require one person. However, they are the smallest and most temporary option, and wind can easily tip them over.

Windows and side enclosures

Some tents may have side enclosures, which may be solid or have clear window panels. These designs can reduce wind flow through the tent and prevent the sun from entering the tent. The side enclosures may be opaque, or they may be screened to increase visibility but reduce the number of insects from entering.

Whether these designs are right for your wedding is a matter of taste. Some people prefer a fully open design, while others prefer the added privacy and protection of canopies with side enclosures.

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Make sure to turn off any sprinklers at least two days prior to setting up your canopy. This way your guests are sure to be walking on dry ground, and any tent stakes are more likely to stay put in the drier soil.


Once you have determined what type and size is the best option for your wedding, you should consider additional features like the look of the tent and its materials.


  • Canopy materials: The canopy should be sufficiently durable to withstand rain and wind, and it should prevent UV rays from entering the tent.

    • PVC is a durable option that easily drains water off of its edges. While it prevents some UV rays from entering the tent, it may be treated with a special coating for additional protection.

    • Fabric is not as waterproof as PVC, nor does it offer as much UV protection. However, it is more lightweight, making for easier setup, and its look may be a better fit for your wedding.

  • Support materials: The supports and frame of a canopy may be made of aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, or steel.

    • Aluminum is a lightweight option that may struggle to support a tent in windy conditions. However, it will not rust — unlike steel.

    • Plastic is the flimsiest option and is most common in smaller pop-up tents, but it will not rust if left in the rain.

    • Fiberglass is sturdier than plastic and lighter in design. In addition, it will not rust.

    • Steel is the most popular option for larger canopies as it is extremely sturdy. However, it is quite heavy and will rust over time.


While a lot of the atmosphere of a canopy will come from your own decorating — tablecloths, centerpieces, lighting, and flowers — the material and style of a canopy can have a major impact.

Canopies are available in different colors if the traditional white doesn’t suit your wedding. In addition, the inner poles and supports may allow you to hang lights and other decorations.

Window panels also vary in style and in how much light they allow in. A tent with side enclosures may be fully or partially enclosed, which can affect not only the atmosphere but also how people move through the tent.

A canopy also doesn’t have to be a square or rectangle. Some may be hexagons or octagons, which can allow for easier distribution of tables and a more centralized feel.

Wedding canopy prices

Inexpensive: Wedding canopies ranging from $75 to $150 are usually small pop-up tents of around 100 square feet. While these may provide cover for a single table or an hors d'oeuvres bar, they won’t be able to accommodate a crowd. The supports are usually made of plastic, aluminum, or fiberglass, and the canopy itself is typically made of PVC.

Mid-range: Canopies for $150 to $500 range in size, with some reaching up to 400 square feet. These may be pop-up, pole, or frame tents and are made from a variety of materials. Tents with side enclosures, windows, and screens are more common in this range.

Expensive: For $500 to $1,000 are heavy-duty canopies designed for larger crowds, often ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet or more. These usually have steel poles and frames, and windows are very common in this range. Though this is a lot to pay for a canopy, it may be necessary to fit all of your guests under one roof.

Expert Tip
Wipe down the tent top, supports, and frame then let it dry completely before folding and storing. This aids in preservation of the color of the tent, and helps prevent material and support rot.


Setting up your canopy is quite a bit different from pitching a tent. Here are some tips to ensure that everything goes smoothly:

  • Measure the area where you plan to put your tent, then measure it again. There is no way to adjust the amount of space a tent takes up.

  • Don’t forget to take stakes and ties into consideration when measuring the area for your tent. The manufacturer should state how much space is needed around the perimeter, but you may want to leave a bit more just to be safe.

  • Though finding a perfectly level patch of grass is difficult, you should situate your canopy on level ground if possible. Not only is this aesthetically pleasing, but it also ensures that the tent remains stable.

  • Stakes need to be driven into the ground, so you will need soil that is soft enough — and a venue that allows stakes in the first place. Communicating your plans with your venue is crucial.

  • Consider flooring for your tent — beyond just the dance floor. Not only is it easier to walk on for those in heels, but it can also look elegant.

  • Poles can often be concealed with pole covers (or “leg drapes”), which are decorative sleeves of fabric available in different styles and colors.

  • If possible, set the tent up a day or two before the wedding to prevent any last-minute issues.
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A wedding canopy can usually be installed on any outdoor surface — grass, sand, or gravel.


Q. Can a canopy become damaged if left up for too long?
Yes, especially if it has steel supports, which will rust with prolonged exposure. While some more expensive options are designed for long-term installation, these are uncommon. Canopies should be taken down when not in use.

Q. How should you store a wedding canopy when it is not in use?
Most canopies include a carrying bag designed to hold all parts. If your canopy does not include a bag, you can cover it in a sheet or tarp. To avoid rust, you should keep your canopy in a dry area.

Q. Is it cheaper to get a canopy to own or rent one from an event company?
While it is possible to find a deal, in most cases it will be more expensive to hire a company to bring and set up your tent. Bear in mind that this is the cost of a single day — you can get several uses out of a wedding canopy beyond the big day.

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