Colorful Canopies

“Gorgeous dress,” people say after a good wedding. “Beautiful flowers.” But no one ever says, “Did you see those tables?” or “That shade structure was incredible.” Know why? Because they’re usually boring — bordering on ugly. Plastic and vinyl have become the material of choice for everything from canopies to table legs, giving most wedding receptions something in common with weekend swap meets and Motocross sign‑ups.

But yours doesn’t have to be that way. With The Tent Merchant right here in town, importing handmade tents, umbrellas, cushions, furniture, and accessories from India and Morocco, you can shade or shelter your wedding with the class and decadence you dream of — and deserve.

If you want to feel like an Arabian Princess at your wedding, complete with low tables, metal lanterns, and rich fabrics draping from a colorful ceiling, then this is your place. So too if you want to spice up a vinyl tent or indoor room with a decadent interior. Available tents can house anywhere from 10 to 400 people, and range from $55 to $2,400 to rent (and around twice as much to buy). If budget’s a concern, you can get the usual vinyl and plastic fare too, and the Merchants will help you dress it up. If you don’t see what you want, custom canopies can be ordered.

“We’re really into history … I like to recreate the look of the way people lived and traveled” a century or two ago, said owner and New Zealand native John Leenhouwers. “They had the style we’ve kind of lost.”

You can reach the company by calling 963‑6064 or visiting, but neither is an adequate substitute for stopping by the odd, rounded building on the corner of Gutierrez and Garden (the entrance is around the back and yes, it’s open to the public) to see the rich fabrics and exquisitely detailed antiques yourself.

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