There are a lot of things to consider when you’re planning events. How much space do you have? How many guests do you wish to accommodate? What time of day is the event and how much time do you have access to the event location for setting up and breaking down everything you need? We’ve laid out some simple questions common for event planning along with some basic information to help you make the best decision possible.

Types of Tent Before You Rent a Tent While Planning Your Event
Linen Ordering Guide Table Seating Guide Other Things to Consider
Downloadable Directions

What Kind of Tents are There?

Great American Tent carries a wide variety of both frame tents and pole tents. All of our tents have the option of adding side walls. Side walls can change an open tent to an enclosed tent. Customers can also optionally choose to only cover certain sides with walls and leave others open. One of the most common questions we get is: “What’s the difference between a frame tent and a pole tent?”

Frame Tent Interior

Pictured above is the interior of a frame tent. Frame tents have an aluminum frame that the canopy is placed over and strapped to before the legs are installed. Because of the frame, these tents do NOT have center poles, leaving the area underneath completely open. Frame tents are free-standing and only required to be anchored for safety reasons. Frame tents also can use 7’ or 8’ legs and offer a lot of options in smaller sizes, including expandable 9x10 marquees that can be used to create walkways.

Great American Tent also carries clear tops (at an additional cost) for a selection of frame tents. Specifically: 9x10, 15x15, 20x20, 20x30, 20x40, 30x30, 30x40. Also available (at an additional cost) are few select frame tents with the option of a high peak. Specifically: 10x10, 15x15, 20x20, 20x30, 30x30. Because of the complexity of the frame work, frame tents over 40’ wide on the shortest side can be somewhat costly. Tent liners can also be ordered by request at an additional cost to cover the frame if ample notification is given.

Pole Tent Interior

Pictured above is the interior of a pole tent. Pole tents use center poles (and on some sizes, quarter poles) to create their peaks, which means there will be some poles in the tent interior. Pole tents MUST be anchored into the ground to remain standing. Pole tents can only be tied to stakes set at the appropriate distance or eyebolts set at the appropriate distance. Pole tents can NOT be tied to existing structures, weights, water barrels or sandbags. All of Great American Tent’s pole tents use 8’ legs.

Great American Tent only carries a select few clear tops for pole tents that are 60’ on their shortest side. We also carry (at an additional cost) high peak tops for a variety of pole tents. Specifically: 30x30, 30x45, 40’ wide tops up to 100’ long, 60’ wide tops up to 120’ long, 80x70, 80x100, 80x130, and 100’ wide tops up to 380’ long. Are smallest pole tent is 30x30. Starting at 40’ on the shortest side, pole tents are considerably cheaper in price than frame tents of the same size. Pole drapes can also be ordered by request at an additional cost to cover the poles if ample notification is given.

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Before You Rent a Tent, Ask Yourself the Following

We’re always happy to answer your questions, but it’s a good idea to consider the following things when planning your event.

Tents are normally staked, so when planning for a tent you must consider what it will be standing on. Grass, dirt and gravel are all easy to stake, so you just need to make sure there are no water mains or other utilities running under the ground. We can stake asphalt at no added cost, and fill the holes with gravel and asphalt patch when the job is done. In case of concrete surfaces we can we use drop in sinkers and eyebolts to secure the tent.

If stakes are not an option, either because the ground can’t be staked or the property owner does not want them, your tent options become more limited. Pole tents can not be anchored without stakes. Frame tents can be set-up without stakes, but still need to be anchored. Water barrels can be provided at additional cost, provided the set-up location has an available water source near the tent’s desired location. Frame tents can also be tied to near-by existing structures when applicable.

Prices are figured for jobs in which the job site is fairly assessable by truck. Locations not easily reached by vehicle require special consideration and may incur a degree of difficultly charge, depending on the circumstances. We can and have set-up tents at unusual locations, including on parking garages, inside buildings, and on porches, but only after making special preparations. If you would like a tent set-up in an unorthodox location, give us a call so we can evaluate your options.

In addition to considering what’s under the ground, you should also consider what’s around the job site. Are there power lines overhead? Any objects or fixtures the tent will need to be constructed over, such as swimming pools or fountains? What borders the job site? Typically you should allow six additional feet on each side of the tent for the stakes. If you feel there may be complications with your location of choice, call us to set-up a possible measuring appointment to assess the potential job site.

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Other Things to Consider For Your Event

Remember, we don’t rent just tents, and it wouldn’t be much of an event if there wasn’t anything under it. Here’s some simple points to consider for your event.

What kind of event obviously makes a big difference. Is there going to be a band? Do you need a stage for them? What about a couple of tables for food? What about color? If you’re not doing a wedding a striped tent can really grab people’s attention. Do a mental checklist of all the major features of your event and what’s needed to facilitate them.

The time of year can make a big difference. If your event is in the winter you might need heaters, and if it’s in the summer you might need fans. The time of day also makes a difference, if it’s the evening you might need lighting. Also keep an eye on the weather. With cool weather and rain you might want curtains, but if it’s nice you can leave the tent open.

If the tent is going anywhere other than your property, make sure you ask the owner if we can use stakes. Also, ask what’s the earliest we can set-up and what’s the very latest we could pick-up our equipment? These details are important not only to our scheduling, but also your event, since you will need time to prepare.

Depending on the scope of your event, you may need additional equipment. Some large events have smaller separate tents the caterers use to prepare their food away from the main area. If you are planning on accommodating people outside a tent you may wish to rent additional tables and chairs. Don’t forget, we do linen rentals as well, in case you want the tables to look extra nice.

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Table Linen Ordering Guide

Table Size Lap Length Floor Length Skirt 3-4 Sides
36" Round 84" 96" 10’
48" Round 90" 108" 13’
60" Round 90" 120" 16’
72" Round 108" 132" 19’
6’ Rectangular 60"×120" 90"×132" 11’/17’
8’ Rectangular 60"×120" 90"×156" 13’/21’

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Party Tent Seating Guide

Sit Down Dinner Sq Ft Per Person
Rectangular Tables 10
Round Tables 12
Dance Area Sq Ft Per Person
Wedding 2-3
Dinner or Dance 3-4
Bandstand Sq Ft Per Person
Person 10
Drums 20
Piano (Spinner) 30
Grand Piano 100
Miscellaneous Sq Ft Per Person
Stand Up Cocktail 5-6
Buffet Dinner 7-8
Cathedral Seating 5-6
Speakers Platform 10
Bar 30

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Additional Information For a Successful Tented Event

A few other factoids to consider for the event planner.

When you are deciding where to put your tent, try to pick a high and dry location. If there is a spot where the water runs or pools, that is not where you want to put your party. If water runs down hill a tent isn’t going to change that problem. The water needs to run off and away from the tent. Just remember high and dry makes a safe choice for your tented event.

If your event is in cold weather and you wish to heat your tent, it does no good to run the heaters hours in advance. A tent will not retain heating or cooling, it will need to be heated or cooled the entire time of your event. If you have a set-up time before the event then you must factor in that time spent under the tent as well, and plan for enough fuel for the entire set up and duration of the event under the tent.

Tent curtains are separate from the tent top, sometimes referred to as the canopy. Canopy is just another term for tent top. You may order just the canopy top or add curtains to enclose the tent, both are options. You may choose to have just one tent curtain or wall on your tent, they are flexible and can be arranged in many configurations.

Be aware if a tent is set up on a lawn it may damage some of the surface. A tent set up over a lawn will not kill the grass, it may even grow more quickly, but where poles are set will cause some mashing down, depending on how moist the soil content is at the time of tent installation.

Anchoring to an existing structure can be done, but you still may have water dripping between the tent and carport or other structure. We can install a vinyl gutter when possible, but cannot guarantee that some moisture won’t leak between a tent and an existing building or structure.

In cases of severe weather Great American Tent advises you to leave the tent and take shelter in a safe place. Treat a tent like a mobile home, it is a temporary structure and as such may come down in severe weather. We advise checking the weather service if it seems that severe weather may be coming into your area.

Typically we will set the tent up a day in advance of your event, and in many instances setup is done several days in advance at no extra charge to the client. Often customers need additional time to bring in their own equipment or decorate. Just be sure to tell us your needs when you book your job.

Delivery for Birmingham, Alabama and Jefferson County is a flat $100.00 charge, but delivery to other areas vary depending on distance and gas prices. We can delivery most anywhere in the Southeast if our schedule permits, but deliveries outside central Alabama may be cost prohibitive for customers. Contact us if you’d like an estimate on delivery to your area.

No question or detail is too small. If you don’t know for sure then ask. Great American Tent welcomes all inquiries and we enjoy helping our customers and non-customers with tent information, whether your event is next week or a year from now. And yes we take reservations a year in advance, and you don’t have to worry about your equipment being there for you. We guarantee our reservations, and you can rest assured with Great American Tent you will have your tent and party needs met in a professional manner. With over 35 years experience, you are in good hands.

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Downloadable Tent Directions

The links below will provide you with a digital copy of our instructions for customer pick-ups. Simply click on the size of tent you need directions for to download them.

10x10 12x12 15x15 20x20 20x30 20x40

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