Trying to take shelter from both political criticism and inclement weather, Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton said yesterday that he -- rather than the state's taxpayers -- will buy the tent for his daughter's wedding reception.

The $2,504 tent, to be used Aug. 9 for the reception at the governor's mansion in Richmond, was ordered by the state. A Dalton aide asserted that the custom-made canvas shelter would be used for other functions as well.

However, the purchase evoked a shower of critical comments, particularly from some Democratic legislators who questioned the propriety of making the tax-payers pay to keep rain from the heads of the Dalton family's wedding guests.

In a statement yesterday the governor said the cost of the 20-by-40 foot yellow and white tent would come from his own pocket.

An employe of Norfolk Tent and Awning Co. in Norfolk said she understood a check was in the mail. The state purchase had been canceled.

The governor said the reports indicating criticism of the tent purchase "have been a source of unhappiness" for him, his wife, and other family members, including his eldest daughter, Katherine, the bride-to-be.

Katherine Dalton is to marry David B. Mika of Madison County, Va. Both are students at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

Dalton said the tent was ordered through the state in the belief that it would "enhance public and private enjoyment of the mansion at relatively small expense, given the expectation it would be used for many years."

The governor said "it was expected that the tent would be used at Kathy's wedding reception, but it was never considered to be a purchase for that event. w

"Because misleading reports of the purchase have cast a cloud of controversy over the wedding, I have now decided to buy the tent with my personal funds and we will continue to use it at the mansion," the governor added.

He also said purchase of the tent, which has already been delivered, "simply reflects a father's desire to do everything within his power to make his daughter's wedding as happy as possible.

"That much, I hope, will be forgiven," Dalton said.

Last week when the purchase of the tent was disclosed, an aide to the governor, emphasizing that it would be used on other occasions, said it was determined that costs to the state would be less if a tent were bought rather than rented.

An employe of the State Department of Building and Grounds took a more conservative view. "I don't have any need for a tent, except when the governor orders a tent," he said then.