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January 25, 2021Best In Tents

How to Choose a Custom Tent for Your Needs

Do you know everything that goes into creating the best custom event tent for your needs? If not, don’t worry - finding your perfect event tent can seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help. There are various aspects you should be aware of that will help you determine exactly what kind of tent you need, whether you’re planning a simple family reunion in your backyard or an outdoor concert for thousands of fans. This article is your full guide on how to choose a custom tent for your needs, so let’s get into it!

Why Should You Order Custom Event Tents If You Can Buy Already Fabricated Ones?

When there are already so many pre-made event tents on the market, you may feel like it’s a waste of time or money to order a custom tent. Here’s why it actually makes more sense to order a customized tent

  • It will be used often. Prefabricated tents can tend to last less time, especially if they were not specifically designed for your intended use.
  • Having a custom tent is important for business branding. Brand recognition is more important than ever, and having your logo and brand colors on your event tent will help grow brand awareness effortlessly. If you don’t yet have a logo, choosing a professional logo maker can help you easily create a logo that depicts your brand image.
  • You can create a completely unique style, size, and design. There are many gorgeous pre-made tents, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work for your needs. If you have a design or style in mind that doesn’t exist, customizing your tent is the only way to go. This way, you’ll ensure you get the perfect tent, and you will get a completely unique product that’s all yours.

If you’re worried about how much a custom canopy costs, don’t worry. Custom tents, like anything, can get pricey, but they can be made to fit every budget. The team at American Tent can work one-on-one with you to ensure you stay within your budget and get the perfect customized tent for your needs. 

Types of Custom Tents

First and foremost, you’ll need to decide which types of custom outdoor event tents you’re interested in. Each style of tent varies in set-up time, appearance, and functionality, so don’t skip this step and assume any tent will do. Here are some of the most popular styles of custom tents and which kinds of areas and events they are best used for.

Pole Tents

Pole tents are one of the most popular tents we produce at American Tent, as they can be made in just about any size and have the classic canopy design that many customers are looking for in a custom tent. As their name suggests, the main form of structure for this type of tent comes in the form of a central pole that many take advantage of during their event by decorating it with flowers, lighting, and more.

Pole Tent Features:

  • Perfect for large, formal events;
  • Central pole;
  • Must be staked into the ground.
Pole Tents Guide

Best Uses for Pole Tents

Pole tents can be used for various events, from a lavish wedding to a company picnic - the possibilities are almost endless. The most significant consideration you’ll have to keep in mind when purchasing a pole tent is that it must be staked into the ground, so these tents aren’t great for indoor use or setting up on concrete or asphalt. These tents work wonderfully and look great for any events in the grass, keeping your guests comfortable.

Pop-Up Tents

Custom pop-up tents are generally on a smaller scale and are the perfect starter tent because of their ease to set up, tear down, and maintain. As their name implies, custom pop-up tent canopy styles feature a simple frame that can be set up and torn down by one person and is easy to transport to various locations, if needed.

Pop-Up Tent Features:

  • Smaller in scale;
  • One-person set up and tear down;
  • Easy to transport or change locations last minute;
  • Can be used indoors or outside.
Pop-Up Tents Guide

Best Uses for Pop-up Tents

Since these tents are generally on a smaller scale and feature a simplistic frame, pop-up/canopy tents are best used for smaller gatherings, informal outdoor events, check-in areas, medic stations, etc. While these tents aren’t generally best for large events and/or parties, they make great break-out spaces at larger events and offer quality shelter wherever you use them.

Frame Tents

Likely the most versatile type of event tent on our list is the frame tent. Like pole tents, a frame tent can be customized to fit any number of guests and work well for big events. The main difference between a pole tent and a frame tent is that frame tents do not have a central pole and do not have to be staked into the ground.

Frame Tent Features:

  • Unobstructed space (no central pole);
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors;
  • Can be set up on the solid ground and doesn’t require stakes;
  • Offers shelter from harsh weather conditions, including rain and snow.
Frame Tents Guide

Best Uses for Frame Tents

Frame tents are the perfect choice for most events, especially if you need a large tent to use indoors. Weddings, indoor markets, music festivals, and more have utilized frame tents to offer their attendees shelter. While you likely can’t set up a large frame tent on your own, they are quite simple to set up and can easily be moved or adjusted since they don’t require staking. If you’re worried about the complexity of using your custom event tent, a frame tent is a great option.

Cross-Cable Tents

If you’re envisioning an event tent with a gorgeous, swooping peak, then the cross-cable tent (also known as marquee or high-peak) is the perfect choice for you. Cross-cable tents offer the drama you are looking for, without any of the hassles you may think it will take to achieve a high-class outdoor venue.

Cross-Cable Tent Features:

  • High central peak;
  • Simple one-person setup;
  • Smaller in size.
Cross Cable Tent Guide

Best Uses for Cross-Cable Tents

These tents are small but mighty. If you’re planning a large event with hundreds of guests, the cross-cable tent likely isn’t for you; however, the wonderful thing about these tents is their spacious interiors. With a high canopy, you can achieve an airy, open flow for your venue space. Because of their open feel, it’s easy to pair multiple cross-cable tents together to accommodate a larger event. These tents are versatile and can work for the smallest events and roadside booths, elegant weddings, and more.

Pagoda Tents

Pagoda tents are a bit like a mix of pop-up and frame tents, with the extra flair of a cross-cable tent in the form of a high peak that gives them a much more luxurious and stylish look. These smaller-scale tents are simple to set up and include additions that add to the classiness, including the peaked top, kedder walls that zip to form a classy and practical shelter for your event.

Pagoda Tent Features:

  • Center peak
  • Zippered sidewalls
  • Easy, two-person set up
  • Smaller in size

Pagoda Tent Guide

Best Uses for Pagoda Tents

Pagoda tents are an excellent addition to any event you want to elevate and give a sophisticated feel. While they are generally on the smaller side and don’t work the best for larger events, you can easily customize your event’s look by adding a pagoda entrance to your existing tents. Perfect for weddings, festivals, and high-class indoor and outdoor events.

Best Size Options for Your Tent

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at American Tent is what size tent do I need? And for a good reason. Determining the size you need for your event tent is one of the most crucial steps in this process; there is nothing worse than ordering your custom tent that is perfect in every way and then finding out on the day of your event that it won’t work for your needs because it’s too small. Don’t get stuck without a proper tent - here’s what you’ll have to keep in mind when determining which size tent you’ll need for any event.

Number of Attendees

Of course, the first thing you need to consider when choosing an event tent’s size is how many guests you are expecting to attend your event and if you need coverage for all of them at one time. Even if you don’t know the exact number of people, or you’re ordering a tent that you wish to be used for an array of uses, it’s generally a good idea to round up. You can make do with a tent that’s too big, but it’s nearly impossible and uncomfortable to try to cram too many guests into an undersized tent.

Seating Arrangement

When you have an idea of how many people you’ll need to fit into your tent, the next biggest determining factor in which tent size you’ll need is the seating plan for your event. Every seating arrangement varies in how much space is needed. For example, a cocktail-only event with sparse tables and not too many chairs only needs about 8 sq. feet per person, while a sit-down dinner seating arrangement requires nearly double space, at 15 sq. feet per person.


The temperature might not be something you think to consider when choosing the size of your event tent, but think of it this way-- people are going to be much more inclined to have more room to themselves and room for air to flow freely on a hot and/or humid day. If you’re planning an event in a warm or tropical outdoor climate, keep in mind that you may want extra space for each of your guests so it doesn’t get stifling within your tent.

For further assistance choosing which event tent is right for you, read our full guide on tent sizing here, and check out this basic sizing chart:

Tent Capacity Chart

What Are the Best Tent Fabrics?

Once you’ve determined which style of tent you’ll need and have the sizing down, you can get into the more detailed aspects of your custom tent, like the materials used to manufacture the product. No matter which tent you go with, you’ll want to ensure the material used to create it is high quality and can hold up to a reasonable amount of wear and tear, or you might find yourself with a tent that doesn’t properly do what it’s supposed to do: shelter your guests. When it comes to your custom event tent, we recommend going with one of the following fabric options.

Tent Materials Guide

Coated Vinyl

This process includes coating the entire tent canopy in a protective film that weatherizes the tent and keeps it in good shape. Similar to laminated vinyl, this process offers more a higher degree of protection against rain and other harsh weather. Going with a coated vinyl is the pricer option when deciding which material to get your custom event tent made with. If you expect you may need a tent that can withstand harsh weather conditions or needs to be up and sturdy for a long period of time, this is likely the best material for your tent. 

Laminated Vinyl

Instead of coated vinyl, this process includes “laminating” the tent material between two protective layers. This is a more simple process and, therefore, a less costly option when designing your customized tent.

You’ll find that this is still highly protective and is completely waterproof, fire-resistant, and rustproof. Because this laminated vinyl offers a high level of protection for less cost, the tents we manufacture at American Tent are usually made with this process, and we find it works wonderfully and looks great!

When it comes to the materials used on your custom tent, we know how important it is to see and feel them for yourself before purchasing. At American Tent, we offer a free material sample box so you can see and feel exactly what your tent will be made with.

Tent Colors and Customization

One of the best aspects of a custom tent is just that-- it’s custom! You can completely customize your tent with special colors and even showcase your logo/brand by having it printed on your tent. Not only does this help your guests locate your tent in a busy area, but what better way to get brand awareness than by having it on the outside of your event? Here are different ways you can customize your tent this way.


Looking to break away from the common white tents? We’ve got you covered (literally). When you customize a tent, you can choose between a wide array of colors to give your event a completely customized feel. Greens can blend well into the scenery if you have an outdoor event in a grassy/wooded area, vibrant colors can help you stand out in a crowd or festival, where most of the other tents will be white, and pastels can enhance any event with a soft pop of color. No matter what color you end up choosing, your tent will definitely stand out and make an impression.

Not sure what color tent you should get? Keep in mind when choosing your color that some may be better than others in the heat - a black tent probably isn’t the best for an extremely warm climate or time of year - as well as how easily it will be able to see dirt and stains.

White tents, for instance, while usually coated in protective material that is more difficult to stain, will show dirt and imperfections more than a colored tent. If you’re planning on leaving your tent up for long periods without spraying them down, perhaps a colored tent is the best option for keeping it looking great, even if it’s not completely spotless.

Color Tent Guide


Not a fan of all-over color, but still want to stand out and add a design to your tent? Stripes are a wonderful addition to your event tent that offers a fun feel harkening back to old-school circus tents. Have your mini carnival, circus, popcorn station, and more, with a fun striped event tent. While red and white stripes are the classic colors for tent stripes, you can always add your spin to this fun design by choosing your colors.

Stripes Tent Guide


One of the best reasons to customize your tent in the first place is the ability to add your logo to your tent canvas! This is a wonderful way to not only help your attendees find your tent in a crowded area and know exactly where to go but helps further your brand awareness. When adding a logo to an event tent, it’s crucial to ensure the sizing is proportionally adjusted to the tent’s size and is in a high-quality format that will look clear and vibrant on your tent. If you’re having trouble adjusting your logo for printing, the American Tent customer support team is ready to help you with this process, so we get it perfect for your tent.


Finding the right event tent for your event can be intimidating with so many options and manufacturers to choose from, but this guide is a great start to understanding the most important factors to creating the tent of your dreams. At American Tent, we are passionate about helping you in the process of creating your custom tent. Whether you still have questions about the process and would like professional guidance from our team of passionate designers and tent manufacturers, or you’re ready to make your custom tent a reality, we are ready and excited to help!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will we need sidewalls on a tent?

One of the best additions for event tents that we offer at American Tent are sidewalls, which add style and sophistication while also giving added protection from the elements for your guests. Sidewalls are easily attachable panels that can be added to any tent, and when it comes to custom event tents, we’ve made sidewalls in all kinds of unique shapes and styles. But do you need sidewalls?

While they look wonderful and add some protection, they aren’t necessary for your custom event tent. The good news is, sidewalls can be ordered after you already have your tent, so you can change your mind if you realize you’d really like sidewalls after all.

What if I have a unique design request?

Sometimes your vision might be so out of the box you may need to create a custom tent you’ve never even seen before-- that’s where we come in! Our support staff and designers have helped various customers create unique tents and sidewalls that stray from traditional shapes and styles, and we’re excited to work with you on making your vision come to life.

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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We regularly post helpful resources that can help you plan great events and learn more about our event tents.

Our friendly customer service team is always happy to answer any questions you have about pole tents, frame tents, and sidewalls, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need more information!

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