Most weddings will require rentals in one way or another. It is very imprtant to vet your rental company no matter if you are renting everything from generators to restrooms or just a few decor pieces. Follow this guide to feel confident with your rental company selection!
THINGS TO KNOW AND CONSIDER
Some venue have requirements of which company can be hired. Certain venues are particular about what rental companies can work on their property meaning that you will likely have to go with their preferred vendor no matter what. Some venues may have a "preferred" vendor but allow for the client to use an alternative company, but charge can additional fee. Depending on the rates of their preferred company and additional fee amount, you may still be able to save money by going with an outside company even considering the additional fee. On rare occassions the preferred vendor will have limited rental options and not offer items that work with your desired look. In this case, and if your budget allows, an outside company may still be worth the additional fees.
Some venues have requirements of certain specific equipment that you will need to rent. Venues want to protect their property, and for good reason! The quality of their venue is the foundation of their income. This means they may require certain protective elements be rented in order to keep their space safe. Common items include ground coverings to go beneath the caterer, fire extinguishers, adequate trash receptacles, and display equipment so no permanent measures are taken to display decor or lighting (i.e poles, stand alone wall displays, scaffolding, etc.)
Venues often have specific rental drop off and pick up windows. Venues typically have a set beginning and ending time that vendors will have access to a space. The initial access time varies significantly from venue to venue, but the time that a vendor is required to be out by is usually 60-90 minutes after the reception concludes. When discussing arrangements with a rental company make sure that they can guarantee their drop off and pick up falls within this window so you are not stuck with a hefty fine at the end of the night. Be sure to inquire about additional fees for tighter windows!
Consider the rentals significance and relevance to all other set ups when deciding on a rental drop off time. If you are renting al dinner and accent tables, ceremony and reception chairs, kitchen equipment, physical bar, power sources, lighting, bathrooms, etc., the rentals will need to be dropped off and setup before any other vendor or design element since they are essential to everything else. Make sure that you schedule the drop off with plenty of time leftover for the rest of your vendors to properly set up.
Think through all aspects of the wedding and plan for function first. Think about the space you have chosen to host your ceremony and reception. Before considering aesthetics consider the fundamental elements necessary to keep everyone safe and comfortable. There are some basic functional features you will need to check for and rent if they are missing from your venue space:
Is there power? Is it adequate to run everything from lighting, A/V equipment for the DJ or Band?
Are there restrooms? *Bridal Tip: A good rule of thumb is to have at least one bathroom per every 100 guests.
Do the restrooms have light and a handwashing station? Will the restrooms be stocked with toiletry items (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, soap)?
Is the path to the restrooms adequately lit?
Is there adequate lighting at each vendor's station?
Is there adequate lighting for guests in the dinner area?
Is there a source of drinking water?
Is there a kitchen or prep station? Does it have a handwashing station?
Are there tables for a buffet display?
Are there tables for your appetizers?
Is there a large dumpster where full trash bags can be disposed of? Will the venue supply trash bags?
Are there one or more fire extinguishers present?
Is there plenty of seating provided for guests in the ceremony area?
Are there tables and chairs for guests to eat their meal?
Is there any climate contraol (i.e. shade, heaters, shelter from rain, etc.)
6. Some vendors will need supplies from the rental company. Typically vendors that require equipment and/or supplies from the rental company will communicate this with you. However, some vendors may forgt or assume that accommodations will have been made for them. Ask your DJ or band if they will need a table and chair. Ask your caterer if they need any equipment (i.e. full kitchen, prep space, shade- no one wants a sweaty chef!), chafers or serving dishes, serving spoons, serving trays, buffet tables, dinner plates, silverware, cups, water pitchers, etc.) Ask you bartender if they need any supplies (i.e. shakers, bar spill mats, bar back tabl, cups, etc.) Be sure to ask every single vendor if they need anything, just in case!
7. Stlyes, quality and pricing vary significantly between rental copanies. Once you have thought through the absolute necessities, consider aesthetics and quality when comparing prces. The main pricing and style differences you will find are between specialty/boutique companies and larger, full service companies. There are pros and cons to both types!
Specialty/boutique rental companies: Companies that provide a more specific and speciality items typically are very particular about their quality of their pieces. Specialty or boutique rental companies are likely to have higher prices to acount for rental item upkeep and to accommodate for their typically smaller amount of business. These companies usually have a more limited inventory so they are more likely to be flexible with drop off and pick up times. This also means they may not have enough items to accommodate a larger wedding. Supporting smaller companies is awesome and having unique furnishings is a great way to individualize your wedding design. However, these companies typically don't offer all of the functional equipment (i.e. bartending supplies, kitchen supplies, lighting, dance floors, trash receptacles, etc.), so you may still need to source those items from a seperate rental company.
Larger full service companies: Most large companies will offer items in a wide range of styles and price points. They typically offer basic items at relatively low rates, but also offer trendier items to match a variety of design aesthetics. Large companies tend to do a lot of business which means they are likely to operate as a very well oled machine. They typically fulfull orders accurately, are on time to dop off items, efficienctly set everything up, and are on tiime to pick up their property. A lot of larger companies offer similar items to one another, but the pricing and quality can vary. Since these companies have a vast inventory they typically. will move equipment quickly from one event to the next, which does not necessarily allow time to carefully inspect for minor damage or stains. They are, however, way more likely to be a one-stop-shop for all of your rental needs. They usually have everything you need right down to power sources. The only item commonly left out of full service rental company inventory is typcially restrooms. Due to the unique nature and specific cleaning requirements, those usually come from companies that specialize in these servcies. Visit the showroom or warehouse to test out the items to amke sure they are comfortable and there isn't a lot of damage.
8. You may need to source rental items from multiple companies. It is fairly common to source rental items from more than one company, especially if you are working with a blank slate venue or a space that isn't typically utilized for event (i.e. private residence). Be sure to consider the logistics of multiple companies simultaneously dropping off and picking up items and factor the additional delivery fees and security deposits into your overall budget. You are also more likely to need to source rentals from multiple companies if you have a specific vision that requires speciality pieces (i.e. vintage furniture, boho aesthetic, peacock chairs, etc.), since some of these items may only be available through a boutique company. Sourcing rentals from multiple companies is not a bad thing, necessarily. If you have the room in your budget, it makes sense logistically, and it will have a drastic impact on the overall cohesiveness of your design, then sourcing items from multiple companies is a terrific option!
9. Compare rates and reviews of rental companies to ensure you are getting the best value. After thinking through the functionality and design elements you are likking for in your rentals, thoroughly research any companies you are interested in. Make sure there aren't consistent complaints about quality, orer fulfillment issues, or puntuality. If you find that companies offer very similar services at significantly different prices, be sure to figure out why!!! Some companies really do provide the same quality of rentals and service at more competitive prices to increase their overall business, but there is almost always a deeper reason for significant price variation than "this company really cares about my budget."
10. Some rental items require some assembly upon drop off. For furniture, assembly is almost always included in the price and done by the rental company staff. The rental company may or may not include set up for lighting displays, overhead hanging installments, furniture placement, table linen placement, kitchen assembly, etc. They may offer this service at an additional cost, but one way or another you will need to make sure someone is designated to take care of the assembly and placement of your rental prices. Keep in mind, this is almost never a 1-2 person task and thes items must be assembled and placed before most other decorating and vendor set up can take place.
11. Some venues love their existing furniture and have limitations on outside rentals replacing their pieces. Most venues are happy to allow outside rentals in their space. Some venues will not remove their existing furniture. This may be because they don't have a space to store their existing furnishings or because they don't want to risk damaging their property. If you want to add additional furnishings to complement the existing pieces in the venue, they may or may not allow this. Again it is not common practice, but some venues are concerned with outside companies moving furniture into thei space and potentially damaging their property. Either way, this is something to consider and discuss with your venue prior to reserving a rental company.
Questions To Ask A Rental Company Prior To Booking
Are you available on my date?
Can you work within my budget?
Do you require a deposit? How much?
Can I make changes to the rental after paying the deposit?
When is the balance due?
What is your preferred method of payment?
What is your cancellation policy if I cancel?
What is your rescheduling policy if I need to change my date?
What is the backup plan if you are personally unable to fulfill your contract due to a last minute conflict?
Are there any additional fees such as travel fees, deliery fees, etc., that are not included in the package price?
Are you licensed?
Are you insured? Does the insurance cover all of your staff and property?
Is your full inventory pictured online or do you have additional pieces available?
Can I see the furniture pieces in person before committing to them?
What are the fees for lost or damaged items?
How often are your rental pieces inspected for minor damage?
Are you planning on adding any additional items to your inventory between my wedding? If so, will I be notified as these items are made available?
Can I add or remove items from my order prior to my wedding? *Bridal Tip: Guest count may change, weather may impose new rental needs, new vendors may require items from the rental company, you may find additonal design inspiration and want to add some pieces to your order, or you may decide to save some money and cut some rental piecs out completely.
Am I obligated to pay a percentage of the initial order amount if I decide to decrease my overall order?
Have you worked at my venue before? *Bridal Tip: A rental company's familiarity with a venue will impact the efficiency of drop off and pick up. A rental company that regularly provides services to a certain venue will also be able to provide valuable insight into what equipment is required or necessary to make the space functional. They will also be able to provide guidance on what pieces will look best in the spcae.)
When do I need to have my rental order finalized?
Will you visit the site for a venue walk through prior to my wedding date to measure the space and make a plan for delivery?
When will you deliver and pick up the rental equipment?
How long does it typically take to deliver and set up teh rental equipment?
What amount of setup of the rental equipment does yor staff take care of? (i.e. will they drop everything off for someone else to place, will they place some of your rentals or all of the furniture personally, will they install your lighting, etc.?
What is the delivery fee?
Are there additional fees if I would like any alternative delivery and pickup dates or times from the ones suggested?
Ways To Maximize Your Rental Company's Services
If the rental agreement includes a venue walkthrough take them up on this! Not all companies will offer this service, but if yours does it is a great service to take them up on! Arrange a time for you and a representative from the rental company to attend a venue walkthrough to measure the space and think through logistics. If a company frequently works in a space they may not find it necessary to visit the venue for spacing purposes. However, if they aren't familiar with the venue or you are planning to utilize the space in a way that is not typical, have a representative from the rental company come to measure and offer their expert opinion of how sizing and placement of items will be most aesthetically pleasing while maintaining functionality.
Visit their showroom or warehouse to view and test equipment in person prior to finalizing your order. Even after confirming rental services with a company, be srue to test out the items you intend to rent and check the quality in person. Pretty chairs may not be comfortable. Certain items may be damaged and you might want to swap them out for a different, more durable type of furnishing.
Book extra items. Sometimes a vendor will need a table, shade, and/or power source, but not mention their need beforehand. Oftentimes, an extra table is needed to diplay items, store items, or for any other number of uses. Add an additional table (or two) and table linen (if necessary) for vendors or displays just in case. The additional tables you plan don't need to be full dinner tables. Typically the extra tables are 4', 6' or 8' tables, depending on the space you are working with and the design you have planned.
Make a backup plan for inclimate weather. Things happen, so be prepared! Before weather even has a chance to become an issue, ask what supplies the comapny has available to accommodate the climate (i.e. tents, umbrellas, heaters, blankets, fans, etc.) Be sure to inquire about the latest date you can add these accommodations to your order and the availability and stock of these items. Larger companies will have a lot of supplies which makes them more likely to have something available last minute. Small companies tha only take on one or two events a day are also likely to have these ready to go, since they are only providing a service to a few clients on a certain day. The medium size companies tend to be a little trickier and their stock of climate control items will quickly dwindle.
Be sure to get the name and contact information for the person dropping off, picking up and/or setting up your rental items. The rental company's office may be closed at the time that you realize that they forgot a much needed table or set of chairs. This will leave you with not having any point of contact with your rental vendor to assist you.
Ask always be sure to read your contract. It cannot be stressed enough. For every vendor you hire there should be a contract that you both agree upon and sign. Even the baker (who you have gone to church with forever and would "just love to do your cake"). If there is any exchange of money for services rendered Get a Contract, Read that Contract, Re-read that Contract, Ask A Many Quetions As You Have before Signing and Exchanging Money. As a client it is your responsibility to read and understand contracts and agreements that yoiu sign. (It's a hard lesson learned for those who don't heed this warning).