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Wisconsin Party & Event Tent Planning Guide

Choosing the Right Size Tent for Your Event

Our party rental tents come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one for your event can seem more complicated than picking out table linens for a wedding reception, but we’re always available to help you sort through all the possibilities and determine which style and size will work best for you. To get you started with pre-planning your event, the following guidelines will give you good idea of the approximate area you’ll need for each person under your tent or canopy:

Of course, no event is ever a simple matter of everyone sitting at tables. There is often a buffet area, a dance floor and a stage. In such situations, a good rule of thumb is to add 100 sq. ft. for every buffet table and 400 sq. ft. for a small dance floor or a stage. We also advise having 100 sq. ft. for every 4 guests at a wedding reception.

Keep in mind this is just a rough guide and may not be applicable to all events. Our staff will assist you in making the final selection after we have a better understanding of your event. Our goal is always to help you make the right decisions based on your specific event—whether it’s a backyard gathering for 50 guests or a huge gala for 500.

Number of guests: Recommended tent size:
20’ x 40’ (seated), 20’ x 30 (standing)
100 30’ x 50’ (seated), 30’ x 30’ (standing)
150 40’ x 60’ (seated), 40’ x 40’ (standing)
40' x 80' (seated), 40' x 60' (standing)
300  60' x 80' (seated), 60' x 60' (standing)

TENT TIP: Plan For The Worst…Weather Wise

Not to sound like a pessimist, but when you’re deciding on what size of tent to get for your event you should plan as if it’s going to be raining all day. Trust us, the last thing you want is a freak storm making 100 people run for cover under a tent only designed to hold 50. If anything, get a tent slightly larger than what you think you’ll need. The extra space is always a good thing.

Consider, too, it isn't always a torrential downpour that wreaks havoc on an event. Sometimes it's oppressively hot, sunny weather. Even here in Wisconsin, we have our share of days when it feels like you're being toasted alive. An adequately sized tent provides welcome relief on such days--especially at locations where there are no shade trees. So even if you're convinced there won't be rain, you'll still want protection from the sun.


Do your prices include setting up and taking down the tent?

At checkout, you will see that there is a charge added for "shipping." This is actually the charge for delivering and setting up the tent, then coming back to dismantle the tent and take it back to our rental location. If you are renting a small canopy tent, however, you can easily set this up with just one other person to help out. These tents have folding legs that you'll pull out. The metal frame for the top of the tent expands when you pull the legs out. Amazingly simple, yet sturdy.

Our prices do not include set-up and take-down of tables and chairs. They will be stacked neatly under the tents we set up and we ask that you leave them this way for us when we return to pick everything up. If you are unable to set up and take down your chairs and tables, please contact us so we can make arrangements to have this done for you. There will be an additional fee for this service.

What’s the difference between a pole tent and a frame tent?

Pole tents are often referred to as canopy tents or party tents. These tents can be anywhere from 20’ wide to 100’ wide, and almost any length. They consist of a tent material supported by center poles, perimeter poles and staked down lines that extend outward from the sides of the tent. These tents are by far the most secure tents you can rent.

Frame tents have a tent top held up by a free-standing frame with no interior support poles. These tents offer unobstructed space and can be installed virtually anywhere—including patios, decks and roofs. They are usually anchored with sandbags or cement blocks to ensure they do not blow over in heavy wind, although we will use guy lines and stakes when it’s prudent to do so.

How much extra does it cost to add sidewalls to a tent?

Prices range from $1 to $2 per lineal foot, depending on the type of sidewall ordered.

Do you require a deposit for a tent rental?

Yes, we will need a 25% deposit to confirm your rental. The deposit is nonrefundable.

How far in advance of my event will the tent be set up?

We set up tents 1 to 2 days prior unless alternate arrangements have been made with us.

What if there is a bad storm during my event?

Our larger canopy tents can weather a downpour with no problem. The smaller frame tents, particularly those which are not secured with stakes or weights, are considerably more vulnerable in a bad storm. If severe weather hits (i.e. high winds, hail, intense lightning), we recommend having an indoor location nearby where your guests can wait out the storm.

For canopy tents that require staking, how can we be sure no utility lines or irrigation system lines will be damaged?

We will contact WE Energy prior to setting up your tent in order to have someone come out and mark the location of any gas, electric or phone lines. You will be responsible for marking the location of any in-ground irrigation lines, landscape lighting or invisible dog fences.

How soon after my event will the tent be picked up?

1 to 3 days afterward, unless alternate arrangements have been made with us.

Do flatware and china rentals require the customer to clean them before they are picked up after an event?

Yes, all items rented to you must be cleaned and repackaged in the same containers they were delivered in.

Do I need a permit to put up a party tent?

Not if you’re planning to put it on a residential property. If you are a business or a commercial property, though, you will need a permit in most of Wisconsin. There is a fee for this (typically around $70 per tent) and you will need to bring copies of your site plan to the permitting office with sketches showing the location and dimensions of the tents you intend to have on your site. It usually takes a few days to get the permit, so plan ahead.

Should I mow the yard before the party tent is put up?

We cover this in our page on tent rentals, but it's worth repeating here: Although it may seem like a good idea to mow the yard the day before your party tent is put up, we'd prefer you don't. Here's why: We have to lay our tents out in the lawn before setting them up and the chlorophyll in grass clippings will stain them. Also, your grass will be harmed much more by foot traffic if it has recently been cut than if it has been a few days since it was last mowed. For these reasons, we ask that you not mow your lawn within 3 days prior to your event.

If we get rain during our event, can we move the barbecue grills under the tent?

You can move the grills under the tent ONLY if they are not in use and any coals have been completely extinquished. Grilling under a tent will damage the tent and is in violation of state fire code. The potential for catastrophic destruction of property is huge--not only to our tent, but also to your home--as well as injury to your guests.

Contact our  Wisconsin party tent rental experts for more assistance with party tents, wedding tents or frame tents in the Madison, Fox Cities and Brookfield area.