When it comes to an event as elaborate and expensive as your wedding day, you might be torn between wanting to splurge on the best and feeling the pressure to save. We know, we know, it’s only one day. Luckily there’s a sensible option that gives you the best of both worlds: renting. Wedding day rentals provide all the top-tier wedding gear you really want at a fraction of the price.
No, this doesn’t necessarily make sense for everything that goes into your wedding planning, but for certain day-of necessities, renting is an obvious choice. Think lighting, linens, and even certain decor elements like candlesticks. Save the investment spending for things like your first house or shared car. Let’s talk about a few things we think you should definitely rent for your wedding. Plus, how to decide if you should rent or buy if you’re still up in the air.
What should I rent versus buy for my wedding?
As with so many other things in the wedding planning space, there’s no black and white answer. What you rent may not be what someone else would rent and vice versa. Some brides rent their wedding dresses and buy every element of their DIY centerpieces. Others spent their budget on custom attire and rent everything else. It’s entirely up to you—and the market (some things are simply not available for rental, obviously).
However, the main question to ask is will you use the item after the wedding’s over? If your answer is “no,” or “maybe, years down the line,” renting is your best bet. This way, you get the most out of using the item and don’t have to worry about whether or not it will come in handy in the future. Of course, things of sentimental value such as your attire or accessories are different. You might want to have them as keepsakes through the decades.
Photo Credit // Rae Marshall Photography
What do people normally rent for their wedding?
Every wedding is different, but there are a few staples that many opt to rent instead of buy for their ceremony and/or reception.
Tented weddings are absolutely gorgeous. And, while you’re often not paying the regularly high fee for a traditional venue space, the costs still add up. In fact, purchasing a wedding tent can be upwards of $4,000—and, remember that’s not including catering, entertainment, lighting, etc. A great option instead is to rent a tent big enough for your big day. Many tents that accommodate a hundred or so people cost between $500 to $1,500 to rent for the day.
Renting a wedding tent can also be a great back-up plan for an outdoor wedding. If it rains, you’ll most certainly want to have a plan B, and a wedding tent is just that. Consider making these arrangements early in the planning process to ensure the availability of the correct size tent for your wedding day. Planning in advance also ensures that you’ve alloted for the cost in your budget. In addition to size, don’t forget to consider the right tent shape—be it square or round—that will make the most sense for the flow of your wedding day.
Tables and Chairs
Of course, there’s no reason to purchase dozens of wedding tables and chairs for your wedding day. Renting is most certainly a more sensible option. But it’s important to plan ahead and be smart about your rental agreement because this can also become costly quickly.
The typical wedding chair rental will cost you somewhere between $2-$10 per chair, depending on the material and type of chair. If you’re looking to go the standard ballroom route, with a padded back and cushion included, you can expect to pay about $8 per chair.
When negotiating the fee, be sure to discuss delivery and pick-up. Oftentimes this is an added cost, but you may be able to get one or both services waived if you negotiate ahead of time. Before signing the dotted line, ask to see the inventory so you know what to expect. This not only ensures that the chairs and tables are in good condition but also assures you that the company is organized and well-stocked.
Next to tables and chairs, linens (napkins, table cloths) are one of the most common things to rent for your big day. Many times your venue or catering company will provide you with the option to rent linens from them. If not, you may have to seek an outside company.
When selecting linens, you want to consider your theme, color scheme, and overall aesthetic. The first choice you’ll likely make is fabric—and you can expect the cost of the rental to vary based on what you choose. Satin, for example, is a popular and inexpensive fabric choice for your wedding-day linens, costing between $35-$45 on average. Damask and Brocade patterns tend to be heavier and more costly, running from between $40-$100. Other styles of linen include organza, taffeta, velvet, cotton, and polyester.
Most linen vendors have a booklet of samples so that you can browse through each of their offerings and choose the one best suited for your wedding day and budget. You’ll also want to consider the size and shape of your linens so that they are large enough for the tables at your venue. The size will also impact the cost, so it’s important to keep that in mind when creating your budget.
While your wedding guests can pretty much dance on any surface, most brides and grooms opt to rent an actual oak plank- or wood parquet-clad floor that’s designed specifically for entertaining large crowds. Most wedding venues have a dedicated dance floor, but not all. Also, tent rentals usually don’t come with a dance floor, so you’ll have to rent one under these circumstances. Your venue may actually require a dance floor rental if it’s an older space (or another reason) in order to preserve the existing floors.
You can expect to pay per section of the dance floor, so the cost will vary depending on the size. If you’re looking to rent a dance floor big enough for a party of 100 guests, a wood parquet dance floor generally costs between $200 and $300 to rent. An oak plank dance floor is a bit more expensive, costing between $300-$350. Vinyl is another option. It’s ideal for an indoor wedding and costs around the same price as an oak plank dance floor. When negotiating, be sure to discuss all the details with the company—delivery, installation, breakdown, pickup, etc. It’s also a smart decision to ask to see a sample of their work so you know what to expect on your big day.
Photo Credit // Shira Marie Photography
Even if you think your venue provides all the necessary essentials for your big day, be sure to double-check the lighting situation. It can truly make or break the mood and feel of your main event. Lighting sets the tone of your celebration and support whatever style you’re going for, be it boho and garden-inspired dim lighting or a bright ballroom aesthetic.
Uplighting is the most common type of lighting to rent for your wedding day. It adds ambiance to the room. You can choose certain colors that match your wedding theme and even opt to have strobe-like designs. The standard cost for uplighting is about $100-$200, depending on the amount you need based on the size of your wedding. Many times your entertainment vendor (DJ or band) will sell an uplighting package, which is certainly worth looking into.
Calling all outdoor wedding couples! Unless your wedding venue has an outdoor bathroom situation, you can expect to have to rent bathrooms for your ceremony. Luckily, there are more options than your average porta-potty for wedding-day restroom rentals.
There are individual porta-cabins that are similar, but a step up in terms of quality and experience. (They’re more spacious and have sinks, for example.) These tend to cost about $200-$400 per unit for a one-day rental. You can also opt to rent a trailer that contains multiple restrooms. If you go this route, you’ll want to rent more than one, depending on the size of your wedding. We recommend allocating 5-7 stalls per 100 guests. These trailer restrooms tend to have the works—running water, lighting, climate control (which really comes in handy for summer and winter weddings), mirrors, and enough space for more than one person to be in the unit at the same time. These, of course, are pricier, ranging anywhere between $2,500 to $15,000 per unit.
Depending on what your venue provides (or doesn’t), you may want to consider renting additional wedding-day garb such as barware, serving platters, upgraded decor elements, and more. Be sure to sit down with each and every vendor to go over exactly what they do provide and what they recommend that you rent in addition to their services.
When it comes to your wedding day, some things are best rented than bought. Be sure to read vet your vendors and read your contracts thoroughly for a seamless wedding rental experience.