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Shade options for a casual, outdoor wedding? Easy to put up/take down? Fairly cheap? Attractive? Impossible? Answered

Hi- I'm trying to figure out our shade options for a casual wedding. I'm hoping to find something fairly cheap, easy to build/take down, and made with reusable materials. Am I dreaming? We have tools and the like, but the solution has to be pretty easy. The event will be stressful enough. There might be a breeze (probably not too heavy) and it has to look okay for the older and more judgemental guests. Preferably it would fit 10 chairs and a couple of small tables. Do you have any good diy links? Vendors for parachute material? Thanks in advance!


Hey, so, what did you end up doing for this???

Having worked in catering for a number of years when i was younger I have seen Some good ideas and some really, really bad ones when it comes to weddings.
Depending on the look you want, and how much money you wish to spend, I know that there are rental companies which will rent tents which can cover from 10 to 100 people, some companies will even set them up for you. Unfortunately the tent may not be the style you are looking for, as they remind me of a circus.
I have also seen sheets used very effectively, either buy driving long stakes into the ground and fixing the corners to the top, or just by tying them off between trees. You can find the material you need at any fabric store, as long as you're not anticipating rain you can go with a light (cheap) cotton as it's lightweight, will allow some light and air through, and is cost effective. If you know of any places that manufacture anything that uses large sheets of cotton (furniture covers, t shirts, drapes, tablecloths etc.) you may be able to find some 'off cuts' for super cheap!

I would advise against parachute material. The material you are thinking about is called ripstop nylon, it is specially made to... can you guess? stop rips, by nature of it's design it will be more costly. In addition, parachutes are also designed to retain some air, this will pose a very large problem if there are any gusts of wind. The choice is yours however, ripstop goes for $20/yard here.

Best of luck on your special day!

You want something like this?
As kelseymh says, quite a lot of the strength is in the upright posts and the guy-ropes holding them in place, but these bits shouldn't be hard to do.

The tricky bit is the frame that holds the canopy. A second-hand tent could probably be converted, but how you put that together may be one you have to figure out.


Of your three middle questions, you're likely to get any two out of the three :-) If you need a structure to hold the shading fabric, then "fairly cheap" is going to be hard. To have something sturdy enough to span, say, 30 feet (that assumes ten folding chairs either across or long), you'd need strong posts and guy wires to anchor them, and cross members to prevent sag. Just adding up material costs takes it out of the "cheap" range. There are professional companies that rent tent enclosures like that, either with or without side walls. You might look at pictures of what they offer to get a sense of what would be involved. If your site is a cleared area surrounded by trees (and you're permitted to climb up into them, the parachute idea might be a great solution. Anchor lines far up in the trees (say, 20 feet or so), and tie them to the central region of the material. Make those lines taut to hold up the middle of the canopy 10-12 feet above the seating area, and anchor the corners and sides of the material lower down on the trees, 6-8 feet up.