wedding rentals

What Do I Need to Rent for my Wedding? Insider Advice from Wedding Rentals Pros

When it comes to planning your wedding, you’ll probably need to rent an array of things. We talked to a couple of experts for advice on how to hire the right wedding rentals depending on what you’re looking for. Bright Event Rentals specializes in various decor and tableware for the San Francisco Bay Area, Napa, and Sonoma, Atlanta Tent Rental specializes in tents in the Atlanta area, and CJC Lighting and Production provides lighting and production services in the New England region.

The Basics

If you were choosing your own wedding rentals provider, what would you look for?

Bright Event Rentals: I’d want a wedding rentals company that has good service: reliable, fast turnaround, and products in very good condition. I would look for knowledgeable staff that make service their top priority. For example, if I have questions or want to change anything, they should be able to accommodate for me. If I know caterers who have worked with the rental company, I’ll ask for feedback so I’ll have a well-rounded understanding of who they are. I’ll also want to do my research, like looking at their website, social media, and feedback from previous clients. Additionally, I suggest people go into the company’s showroom to see the quality of the products and range of inventory in person.

Atlanta Tent Rental: I’d look at the wedding rentals company website and social media pages. If I’m looking specifically for tent rentals, I’ll want to see tent events the company’s done in the past. After looking at reviews and photos online, I’d start calling or emailing companies.

CJC Lighting and Production: When it comes to lighting, it really depends on the venue I’ve chosen. Some venues don’t need many changes, while others require more work like new chandeliers. If you’re in a ballroom, you’ll want to know if there are windows: is the room going to be dark? For ballrooms, you’ll probably just need uplighting, textures, and some ceiling fabric. Make sure to ask yourself what the timeline for your wedding is. While we can do uplighting and pinspots, if the wedding starts at noon, ends at 4:30PM, and there’s a wall of windows on a golf course, you won’t see any of the lighting. First, look at the nuts and bolts to see what your venue offers and what’s needed. After that, you can look at inspiration pictures to see what will work.

What important items do people often forget to order?

BER: When couples are DIYing, we find ourselves asking them if they need heaters, shade structures, and lighting. We also suggest they order 10% over of all tableware and chairs in case a few people are added last minute at their event. Discuss a weather back up so you do not need to stress about it as it gets closer to your wedding. Clients should also allow for additional time for set-up and clean-up. A lot of times, brides don’t take into account the time it takes to load rental items.

How should couples figure out what to rent and how much to order?

BER: It’s important to finalize your guest count so you know exactly how much to order. If you’re not sure how to manage plating and such, ask your wedding rentals company for help. After all, we do this for a living. We also have a handy planning guide that helps with these questions.

What information do you need from couples?

BER: If we know your design direction, we can help you choose rentals that fit with your vision. Knowing your overall budget and approximate budget you have for rentals will help us guide you in choosing the rentals that are best for you. This is all dependent on if you are having a casual or elegant wedding, a venue that carries some items in-house or if tenting and lighting is needed. Once the rentals have been chosen and the guests have RSVP’d, we will need a floor plan for our operations team to deliver your rentals exactly where they should be. We can also help with this through our CAD department.

What are some budget friendly tips to keep costs down?

BER: Ask your venue if it is possible to deliver the day before the event with an open window and pick up the day after the event with an open window. This will allow you to get the best price for delivery and pick up. Add interest in simple ways with color, texture and design. For example, a colored water glass, unique china plate for one course, barware for a specialty cocktail, patterned napkins, bistro lighting, small lounge vignette, mix and match round and square tables are just some options.

Is there anything else?

BER: Communication is key, especially for weddings. Things can change frequently, so it’s important to continuously loop everyone in and ensure everyone’s on the same page. Create a timeline and share this timeline with all the vendors 1 week before your wedding. Then enjoy your special day.

Renting tents

What do clients often overlook?

ATR: Clients do price comparisons and oftentimes they go with the cheapest option. What you really should be concerned about is wedding quality–it’s a huge thing you should talk to your wedding rentals company about. For example, we offer three levels of rental equipment. Class A is for weddings–pristine, very nice for a corporate event. B level fits if the rental equipment doesn’t have to be top quality. Class C works for a 3-day festival, wherein the wedding rentals are left out in the elements. Going back to weddings, make sure you ask us if tents are regularly cleaned–we’ve had instances of people calling us before their wedding, crying because their tent from another rental company has mold or smells like gasoline. You want to go over details like that with your wedding rentals company early on. Additionally, you want to ensure the tent poles are covered when you’re having a formal wedding. You don’t want to see metal poles at your wedding; they’re not the prettiest. Similarly, if your poles aren’t staked in the ground, make sure the water barrels are covered. You want them to look like a permanent structure even though it’s an outdoor tent. As for layouts, we have a CAD program that will help with table and chair configuration. It’s one thing to say you have 200 guests, but it’s another thing to specify exactly how you plan to lay out seating. If you’re having a buffet, you really want to ensure you’ve discussed layout details with your wedding rentals company. You don’t want to arrive at your reception only to discover it’s super tight. You also need to account for the space your dance floor, band, and DJ will require.

What are some other questions that couples should ask?

ATR: Couples don’t ask about how long it takes to set up. It’s helpful to know your tent rental company’s setup times so you can schedule your other vendors accordingly. Another thing: you should have someone from the wedding rentals company do a site visit. Clients sometimes don’t realize that the ground at their venue isn’t as flat as they think, or can’t accommodate for certain things. Certain soil types can affect the tent as well. Sometimes when we ask our clients if we can use stakes or need to use water barrels to secure the tent, they don’t know. In those cases they need to make sure there’s a person who can conduct a site visit. If we use stakes, we have to make sure utilities are marked. Unless the venue regularly uses tents and knows exactly what’s required, a site visit is crucial.

What important items do people often forget to order?

ATR: Couples sometimes forget to consider weather, time of day, and time of year. If the wedding’s in July, they’ll want to think about getting AC; if it’s in December they might want heating. In order to have AC or a heating unit, they’ll need sidewalls. People forget about lighting and flooring as well. For example, if the ground isn’t level, you may want to get flooring. If they’re having women wear heels, they probably don’t want them digging into the soil. Overall, you want to think about how comfortable your guests will be.

What are some budget friendly tips to keep costs down?

ATR: Tent rental fees are usually pretty straightforward and non-negotiable. The purchase price of the tent and labor factor into the cost of the tent rental. For example, a 100×400 foot tent is very labor intensive and takes a long time to put up. In terms of the delivery fee, we offer a flat fee for any events within the Atlanta metropolitan area. However, if your venue is located outside Atlanta, it will cost more due to the added distance we’ll need to travel.

Is there anything else?

ATR: Think about the kind of look you want in terms of the tent you get for your wedding. You don’t have to physically see the tent you rent, just make sure the company knows it’s for a wedding. Make sure you convey to the person you’re working with that you want the tent to have a classy or refined look. Talk with them about all the finishing details and how you want your layout–we offer CAD drawings so that you can see how things will be laid out. Overall, it’s important that the person you work with does a site visit and gets along well with you.


What do clients often overlook?

CJC: Clients overlook power. Especially for more rustic or outdoor venues, you have to consider power. You need to know if there’s power on site, or if there’s somewhere to place a generator. We use battery LEDs which is fine, but a lot of things require power like walkway lighting. The client can have a band, DJ, and caterer who all need circuits, and all of a sudden they’re looking at a $1,500 power generator as their only option. If we haven’t worked at the venue before, we always do a site visit and meet with an engineer. That way we can know how many circuits there are in the room, where the breakers are, those kinds of details. All these things can be overlooked, but I consider it my job to attend to them.

What important items do people often forget to order?

CJC: Probably pinspots. People don’t think about the lighting on each table. This is important because servers need to see where they’re walking and guests need to know what they’re eating. You can have uplights, but people need to see what’s on the table, too. Clients overlook this ambient lighting.  

What’s changed over the years?  

CJC: As far as existing ballroom lighting goes, you used to be able to dim the incandescent lights, giving off an amber glow that added to the atmosphere. Nowadays, many venues use LED lights. They can save a lot of money, but they cause the room to feel white and don’t look as good. If you dim the lights, the room will still feel entirely lit. With incandescent lights, the beam angle narrows and you’ll end up with less light. You get a completely different look with LEDs because the beam field is unchanged. When the LEDs aren’t installed correctly, they’ll be at 20% brightness and each light will flicker, so we have to deal with all of the room lights being off, creating another challenge for us. In a ballroom setting, that’s something that gets overlooked.

Do you have some budget friendly tips to keep costs down?

CJC: It depends on the venue. If you’re in a tent, you probably don’t want string lights hanging every foot. That will raise costs. You can have bistro lights zig-zagging back and forth, and it’ll look similar and cost half the price. Clients should tell us upfront what their budget is, but we find that they don’t always know what they need to spend. We have to educate them. For example, if you’re doing a 100-guest wedding in a hotel, it will cost around $2,000. If it’s a 20,000 square foot ballroom, you’re looking at a $6,000 – $7,000 price range. The price shifts can get confusing because clients don’t realize that if you double the size of the ballroom, you can triple the cost of lighting because it’s not a linear matter.

Is there anything else?

CJC: I’ve seen that sometimes clients don’t read their contracts carefully. One time, we had a client ask us about a chandelier a few days before the wedding.  They might have sent us a photograph of a chandelier at one point, but it wasn’t clearly communicated or included in the contract. It all worked out fine, but reading the wedding vendor contract thoroughly is important.

Check out How to Read your Wedding Vendor Contract!

Do you have questions of your own? Let us know!

Photo by Dennis Kwan Photography

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