Creating a layout and starting a rental order for outdoor weddings
Get cozy, guys. This post is a bit longer than normal. But trust me, it’s informative enough that I think you’ll be okay with the extra length!
Figuring out your wedding layout and rental needs can be one of the more challenging parts of planning your wedding. It is probably only second to understanding how to break down your wedding budget (at least that is what I’ve observed over the years). Luckily for you, LLW has developed a great system to help you bring your vision to reality without missing anything important!
The first step in figuring out your wedding layout is getting a blank venue space schematic, which the venue or a good rental company familiar with your venue can typically provide. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re working with… you’ll know how large each space of your venue is, where any large trees may be (can’t pitch a tent over a tree!), where any existing buildings are, etc.
Once you have a blank layout, you need to determine what the most natural flow of your day will be. Think about where your guests will be parking and entering the space. From there, think about where you want your ceremony in relation to the registration table. After the ceremony, where will your guests congregate for cocktail hour before moving to the reception area. And where does it make the most sense to place your food stations and dance floor?
Once you have the general areas plotted out, you’ll start to fill in the fun details. You’ll need to note where the welcome sign will be placed and where the ceremony arch should be set up. You’ll also need to consider what is in the background of the ceremony- is it photogenic? If not, maybe you need to move the ceremony site a bit to get that picture perfect shot!
Other things to consider... where is the bar and what direction will guests approach it from? What is in the background of the sweetheart table? Will you and your new spouse have your back to any of the guests? How do you want lights hung throughout the space?
The easiest way to make sure you cover all the bases is to do a mental walk through of your wedding day. Imagine yourself walking through the entire event, starting from parking. During your mental walk through, be thinking, “Do I need a sign here? Should there be tables here? Does this path make sense? Is this too long to walk to get a drink?”
Approaching your layout this way will help make sure you are checking all the necessary boxes.
Now that you have your layout all finished, it’s time to figure out what you will need to rent to fill the space.
The two main things you need to potentially rent for your ceremony is an arch and chairs.
In terms of your ceremony arch, were you wanting a two-post or a four-post arch? Or maybe something completely unique? Did you a certain material or color of draping in mind? Maybe a copper, natural wood, dark wood, bamboo structure? Or maybe you always thought your dream wedding would incorporate a circle or hexagon arch! These are all the things that need to be considered.
And how about all the chairs that will be set up in front of the alter? What type of chairs are you interested in? How many and set up in what configuration? Will the ceremony chairs be repurposed for the reception seating?
Later on you can consider the little details that will make it even more special, but for now, that is about all you need to consider for ceremony rentals.
Tent…and Related Rentals
Next, you need to note what type and size (please note…each 10X10 square foot will fit a guest table of 10) of tent you’re looking for- clear top, white top, sail cloth, or maybe even dining canopies? And once you have that decided, you’re probably thinking, “Well that was easy, moving on!”
Except that’s not it. Do you want drapes to cover the poles? How about sidewalls to enclose the tent in case of wind or rain? What about water barrels if you aren’t able to peg into the ground the tent is set on?
And maybe most importantly, let’s chat about lights. What kind of lighting do you want in your tent? String lights, lanterns or chandeliers? How about the configuration of the lights? Do you want the tent to be more dim or a bit more lit up?
All of these questions can be discussed over the phone with your rental company. You may even be able to find some good examples of their inventory on their website or Instagram. A good example photo of your vision is a great start!
So now you have the lighting pegged down within your tent, but what about any lighting needs outside your tent?
If your dance floor is outside your tent, I imagine you’ll want a bit of light over that area. Pro tip: don’t have too, too much light or your guests may not feel quite as comfortable getting their moves on once the music starts playing.
How about lighting over the bar and the food stations or buffet? Or what about uplighting on any existing trees or structures just to give the space a bit of wow?
Tables can get a bit confusing, I totally get it! To make your life easier, here is a little key:
6’ Tables: typically fit 6 people (3 on each side)
8’ Tables: typically fit 8 people (4 on each side)
66” Round Tables: typically fit 8-10 people
72” Round Tables: typically fit 10-12 people
Cocktail Tables: typically used for standing guests near bar
So from here, make a list of all of the tables you will need throughout your reception. Taking a look at that layout you created is the best way to help remember everything you will need. You wont want to forget a cake table, DJ table, bar, buffet tables, registration table, cocktail tables, a table for your photo booth props and any other tables your vendors request.
At this point, you will also want to note what color of linen you will want for each table. Your rental company will have a swatch book you can reference for inspiration. From there, they will be able to match the correct linen size to each table.
Here’s where you can get more into the nitty gritty decor details- aka, every little thing you need to set on top of your table!
Let’s start with plates- you need to determine the style and type of plates you’ll need. You know you’ll need dinner plates, but will you need plates for appetizers? What about salad plates? And will you need plates at your dessert table?
And how about flatware… most place settings typically have a salad fork, a dinner fork, a dinner knife, and a teaspoon. However, not all menus include food that require spoons, so maybe you can get by without these! But maybe you need to add on steak knives or dessert forks to pull out later. You will also want to consider the style of flatware. These days, you can get vintage gold, modern black matte, rose gold…the list goes on. Lastly, you will want to order about 5-10% more than your expected guest count just to be on the safe side.
Then there’s the glassware. You will most likely need water goblets, champagne flutes, and wine glasses set on your table. Depending on the drinks you’re serving, you will potentially need wine glasses, champagne glasses and cocktail glasses behind the bar. However, it’s important to note there are different kinds of cocktail glasses- you could get highball, zombie, martini, etc. You can find examples of these glass options on most rental company’s websites. Your bartender can help you determine the correct amount of each glass type.
Now let’s chat about decor. You should’ve already noted the color of table linens you want, but you also need to determine what color of napkins you’d like at each place setting. And are you wanting to place a charger at each place setting? Or maybe you were envisioning a table runner down the center of each table?
These are all things that your rental company should be able to provide, so it’s all important to mention!
There’s not too much to consider when it comes to renting your dance floor. You mostly need to determine how large you want the floor to be and what color. Dance floors usually come in 3X4 foot panels. 12X12, 15X16, etc are popular dimensions. You will just want to consider how many people you anticipate getting up on the dance floor. In terms of style, typically, you can choose from white, black, wood toned, or black and white checkered.
There’s a few rentals that don’t fit into the above categories, such as furniture for a potential lounge, wind clips for your linens, prep tent for the caterers, etc. If you think you might want or need them, you will want to include them in the rental inquiry as well!
Once you have your rentals list all written out, shoot the rental company a quick email with your layout and rental requests. And while we think you’ll have a pretty comprehensive list pulled together at this point, it’s always a good idea to ask them to let you know if you are forgetting anything obvious. After all, they are the professionals!
The last and most important thing to remember is that this is just the starting point! Most rental companies allow you to make several revisions to your rental order up until two weeks before your wedding date.