Planning a wedding can definitely feel overwhelming during the early stages. As a bride-to-be, it’s probably the first time you’ve ever had to organise a big event, let alone your very own wedding - a.k.a one of the most important days of your whole entire life (no pressure or anything!).
So when it comes to tasks like hiring furniture for your wedding - well, without having any previous experience, then where the heck do you even begin?!
We speak with hundreds of brides every year, usually at the very beginning of the planning process. And we've noticed that there can be an initial sense of overwhelm and confusion with knowing exactly what to hire, how much to hire, when to start booking things in, and just generally making sure it's all going to come together on the day.
Something we hear often with our couples is "I have no idea where to start!", closely followed by "I feel like I've forgotten something." Any of this sounding familiar? If so, it’s totally understandable to be feeling confused.
Luckily, we have a never-ending wealth of knowledge and information when it comes to hiring furniture for your wedding - in fact, it’s exactly what we’re here for!
So, we thought we would go through some checklists to outline the furniture you might need to hire, some tips and tricks to keep in mind, and answers to our frequently asked questions. Hopefully these guidelines will help you tick “furniture hire” off your list of things to do, and you can focus on other more important things. You know, like getting married ;)
Keep reading as we explain how to determine your hire requirements for each area of your day, from your ceremony right through to your reception.
Image via Figtree Pictures
FIGURING OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED
First things first, lets talk about the functional side of things: figuring out exactly what you need (and making sure you don't forget anything!!)
The easiest way to go about this is to run through your wedding from the beginning of your ceremony right through to the end of the night, and create a list of your potential requirements for each area. This can be a little tricky without any previous experience, so we've put together some checklists below which go through the most common furniture and decor items you may need for each aspect of your wedding.
Depending on your venue, your overall "vision" for the day and the style of your wedding, they might not all apply to you. But go ahead and highlight the ones that are relevant - this way, you'll have a helpful checklist of furniture requirements that you can refer back to and tick off once organised.
Ps. These lists are based on furniture and decor hire requirements only. Don't forget about any other practical items you may need to hire in like heaters, PA equipment or a generator.
Image via Figtree Pictures
Whether you're planning a garden ceremony or a chapel wedding, here are some furniture and decor items you may require for your ceremony:
- Ceremony arbour or backdrop
- Ceremony chairs or bench seats for guests
- Signing table and signing chairs ← (this is a very popular last minute addition and always seems to be forgotten! Sometimes your celebrant may provide this, but it might not fit the look you have in mind, so make sure you check this prior to the day)
- Directional or welcome signage
- An easel or stand to display your signage
- An occasional table to hold your programs, rose cones, etc
- A basket or vessel to hold your programs, rose cones, etc
- A vase for your signing table arrangement
- A floor rug for the bride and groom to stand on
- An occasional table or service bar with drink tubs and glassware for post-ceremony refreshments
- Umbrellas for shade
Images via Figtree Pictures
COCKTAIL HOUR (OR COCKTAIL RECEPTION)
Whether its an hour or two for your guests to mingle after the ceremony or a full blown stand-up reception, here are some furniture and decor items you may require for a cocktail setting:
- A mix of cocktail seating. This could include lounge settings and sofa packages, cafe tables and chairs, dry bars and stools, picnic rugs + coffee tables. (Not sure how much furniture you'll need? You can check out our cocktail furniture tips and tricks here)
- A service bar for drinks (for over 80 guests, we recommend at least 2 bars)
- Glassware for drinks (Ask your caterer for the most appropriate quantity of glassware to order for your guest numbers. This will depend on the alcohol you are serving, the drink preferences of your guests, and if there are facilities to be washing and re-stocking glassware during this time)
- Drink tubs
- Chalkboards/signage for your drinks menu
- Chalkboards/signage for other miscellaneous things like lawn games, restrooms, etc
- A grazing table for antipasto platters or other food service
- Plates, cutlery and napkins for food
- Umbrellas for shade
- Cushions, rugs and textiles for lounge furniture
- Tealights or candle holders for dry bars and coffee tables
- Vases for any floral arrangements
Here are some furniture and decor items you may need to hire for your sit down reception:
- Dining tables (not sure how many you need for your guests? We explain it in detail here) Another thing to consider here is the style of your menu, and if you want a feasting table that is a little bit wider to allow extra room on the table. We have both options here (though they do book out quickly!)
- Dining chairs
- Dinner plates
- Entrée plates
- Cake/dessert plates
- Dinner cutlery
- Entrée cutlery
- Cake/dessert cutlery
- Charger plates
- Tealight or candle holders
- Vases for flowers
- ‘Bride and groom’ seats and/or signage
- Gift table
- Wishing well to hold cards
- Cake table or dessert station
- Cake stand or platters for desserts
- Occasional table for guestbook/guest favours/other miscellaneous items
- An easel or stand to hold your menu or seating plan
- Lectern for speeches
- Photobooth backdrop
- Bridal table backdrop
Images via Figtree Pictures
FURNITURE HIRE TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CREATING YOUR CHECKLIST:
Okay, so now you have your checklist of requirements sorted. Or do you? Make sure you take the following into consideration before finalising your list:
- Some wedding venues like private properties are total blank canvases, so you'll need to bring absolutely everything in, while other venues might have inclusions like tables and chairs. If you're relying on the venue for any items, make sure you double check exactly what's included to make sure it will suit your requirements before you tick them off your list.
For example; you might have the perfect feasting menu planned for your reception dinner which involves shared platters between your guests BUT didn’t realise until the last minute that the tables at the venue are standard trestles at 76cm wide. Make sure you check these details, and also the quality of the furniture supplied to make sure it’s in line with your vision.
- Re-using items can be a great way to save a few dollars, with things like re-purposing your signing table for a cake table, or moving some chairs from your ceremony to your reception. But if this is your plan, make sure you actually have people organised to make this happen!
If you have a wedding co-ordinator, then that's perfect. But there is so much happening on the day of your wedding, so it can be tricky if you've placed this responsibility solely on your Aunty Karen who then gets swept away for family photos and doesn't have time to move 32 chairs over to the reception!
- Individual items like dining chairs, glassware, cutlery and napkins all depend on your final guest numbers, so you might feel confused about how many to book. We recommend booking the maximum you think you will need, and then reducing the numbers closer to the date if required when your RSVP's come in (we have a reduction policy of 10% in place, eg. if you booked 100 chairs you could reduce these down to 90). You are of course welcome to add extra numbers if required, it will just depend on the availability of items, so sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry!
- It's always going to be friendlier on your budget to minimise the number of hire suppliers where possible, so that you don't double up on delivery costs. It also means less suppliers to co-ordinate with when it comes to bump in and bump out of your furniture. So try and stick with one supplier where you can to save some extra dollars and streamline the hiring process!
Image via Figtree Pictures
WHEN TO START HIRING FURNITURE FOR YOUR WEDDING
Another question we're asked frequently is, 'when do you recommend I start booking this furniture in?'
For weddings during peak season or weekends before public holidays, we do book out very quickly, so we would recommend booking your key pieces between 10-12 months out from your date - particularly if you need tables and chairs which are always the first to go. The other pieces that book out quickly are our lounges, dry bars, stools and service bars. Luckily we do have a big range so can take quite a few bookings over the same weekend, and our team can always suggest alternative options if your first choice happens to be unavailable.
There are probably going to be a few things you aren't 100% sure about in the early planning stages, like the exact colour of tea light holders you want or the perfect napkin shade to complement your tablescape. But you're much better off securing the items you definitely want first and then adding bits and pieces along the way, rather than leaving it until the month before your wedding and discovering everything is booked out!
You can check out our furniture hire timeline here for a more in-depth explanation of when to start booking in your furniture and decor.
Image via Mallory Sparkles Photo
ASK THE EXPERTS!
And finally, our number one tip. If you're feeling stuck or confused when it comes to hiring furniture for your wedding, then just ask us! Remember, this is what we do for a living, and we're always happy to answer any questions you might have. Our friendly team can chat through your ideas and help you put together the perfect furniture plan for your wedding. You can get in touch with us whenever you're ready, and don't forget to check out our FAQ's for some more helpful information.