To start with, you should first put some thought to the tent itself. There won't be any decoration just yet. You just want to make sure that the tent you are using is durable and affordable. If you're getting the tent from the reception service or catering service that you hired, then you will have limited choice. Even then, that's no reason to give up on picking a good tent. If you are buying the tents yourself, make sure that you find high quality tents. A rule of the thumb is looking for the wedding tents on the Internet. There you will find inexpensive and durable tents. Check customer reviews for this, if you are not sure which one to buy.
Moving on, you are ready to decorate your tent. Prep your mind for some brainstorming. While you're in front of your laptop, why not browse some wedding reception photos? Doing so will give you an enormous lot of ideas for your own wedding reception. Some more ideas are as follows:
Paper lanterns: These can be hung or strung across the roof of the wedding tent to provide colored lighting. The soft, muted light that comes from the paper lanterns are exactly what you need to create a romantic, eerie feel in your wedding tent. If the wedding is to be held late in the day or in the evening, this idea would be perfect. String the paper lanterns in scallops, or hang them according to patterns. Arrange the lanterns according to color or in randomized order. Basically, put more effort in trial and error, and then decide on what's best.
Flowers and candles: Decorators suggest the generic way of decorating wedding receptions. Put flowers everywhere and candles all around. Just make sure that the candles are not placed high enough as for the flames to reach the tent's canopy. Using scented candles is a good idea. Try using a variety of colored paper strung on the roof of the canopy to add some shade. Mostly, go for the flowers. You can use them to give more color to change a monotonous tent to something entirely different.
String lighting: This is a very common setting for occasions, and not just weddings. In this technique, a series of lights is strung to the frame and the canopy of the wedding tent. The colored lights will provide both the source lighting, which are often white, and the muted colored lights. The colored lights are for adding a romantic feel to the setting. The strings are wrapped around the posts and bars that make up the frame of the wedding tent. Just remember to keep the lights from touching the metal, or at least try your best to do so.
Last but not least, a good piece of advice is that you should certainly get good quality wedding tents or party tents for your event so that they are sturdy enough for you to build your decorations upon!