“The primary reason couples might need to hire furniture is when they have chosen a dry-hire (empty) venue which often doesn't come with tables and chairs as standard,” explains Chenai Bukutu, founder of wedding planning company By Chenai. “Furniture is so important because, apart from the practical element, it helps create the look and feel of the day. We use furniture to create memorable, specific spaces – whether it’s a relaxing area in a marquee or to make a vast ballroom doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Thankfully, gone are the days of accepting standard pieces – there’s so much choice and opportunity now to elevate your décor.”
“Depending on the venue, there are lots of pieces worth recommending,” says Bruce Russell, planner and owner of Bruce Russell Events. “Dining chairs are crucial – they need to be comfortable but also complement your décor. Spending time and money finding an elegant tablescape is a waste if the chairs are unsightly. For marquee weddings you will need to hire absolutely everything… so consider that as part of your budget. Also, remember to think about the lighting and practical outdoor pieces like patio heaters and soft furnishings (cushions and warm throws) – as these will really elevate the day.”
“As wedding planners, we always start with chairs for the ceremony and then move onto dining chairs and tables,” says Chenai. “Make sure you’ve also considered a table for your cake and remembered to add chairs and a table for the registrar. For receptions, it's mostly about comfort for your guests, so having some places for them to rest their drinks or sit down during cocktail hour is important."
"For luxe or classic weddings, consider hiring antique-style chairs (like Louis XIV chairs),” says Bruce. “For a city chic/contemporary wedding consider perspex or ‘ghost’ style chairs. Benwood – a café-style chair – is also very popular right now. For couples who love high glamour, opt for mirror top-tables. For a more rustic wedding, there are lots of vintage-style furniture pieces available to hire – think Chesterfield-style sofas and plenty of soft furnishings. Just be warned that things like faux-leather modular furniture has had its day – unless you're having an Ibiza-style pool party! These days, it's all about a more natural look – gorgeous woods and textured fabrics – something that feels more homemade. Rattan furniture is the hot ticket at the moment – natural, classic and elegant… and no plastic in sight. Ultimately, couples should want furniture that fits with the space and their style, and makes guests feel comfortable."
"Agreed, shiny pleather furniture that was popular in the 2000s – think cheap nightclub vibes – is over,” says Chenai. "The only time furniture should be a bit more 'cocktail' is if you're creating a separate after-hours room, in which case I'd focus on jewel-toned velvets. Vintage furniture is still popular and can look good when styled well – think cabinets and drawers to house cocktails, canapés or name cards. In short, there really isn’t anything you can’t have as long as you have the budget – from fairground rides to oversized furniture, there are endless possibilities. You can also have custom pieces made as part of the production and design."
“Event hire companies such as Wedhead, The W Studio or Options Greathire have an abundant and varied level of stock for weddings and parties,” says Chenai. “Also, it’s worth checking out companies which usually do staging for show homes, as well as work in theatre and film…. you can source some excellent and unusual pieces when you expand your horizons.”
Looking for more names & places to hire from? Here's where we recommend...
If reclaimed oak tables and antique rattan chairs are what you’re looking for, Rustic Hire may be the one for you. Couples can also hire English blanket bundles for evenings spent outside.
Eco Furniture Hire specialise in outdoor furniture. From heaters to igloos and benches to parasols, they're ideal if you want options for outside.
Hire It stock modern pieces with a twist. Think gold chairs and contemporary sofas, as well as bamboo wicker chairs and mirrored bars.
If you're looking for a mix of practical furniture and hand-picked pieces, then Virginia’s Vintage Hire offers an array of beautiful, understated options.
Find almost everything you need for a dry hire venue from Richardson Event Hire – from wedding furniture to stages, dancefloors to glassware they have it all, including crockery and linen.
From banquet tables to colour-changing ice buckets and baby high-chairs, try Furniture Hire UK.
Boelle Events offer a range of pretty bohemian props and decorations. Think wisteria arches, macramé backdrops, washed linen napkins, palm tree candlesticks and Moroccan tealight holders.
Chair Hire do more than just chairs – this practical site has everything you need, including bars and tables, beanbags and red carpets.
Looking for a starlit dancefloor, impressive flowerwalls or arcade games? Decorative Events could be the answer.
Ya Hire offer accessories, furniture, linens, gazebos and even coffee tables – plus, they can set-up, de-rig and collect it all.
LED furniture, blush pink sofas, garden daybeds and velvet bar stools are all available on City Furniture Hire’s extensive site.
"Your guests will be drawn to lounge areas or furniture pieces, so be sure to place them where you want guests to be,“ says Bruce. “It's a good idea to frame the dance floor with seating areas, so guests can have a break but not venture too far, or for elderly guests who still want to feel included in the party. Often, the bar is placed with the reception in mind, which is why it's best to have two bars if there's the space and budget. The evening bar should be adjacent to the dance floor so guests don’t have to wander off to a separate space for more drinks. It's also common for couples to want to use a separate room as a relaxation space, but be warned, as this splits guests up. If there's a room or space that lends itself to this, then make that a feature – maybe as an after-hours cocktail den for a nightcap."
Chenai agrees: "Try to keep your bar as close to the dance floor as possible so people don't have to choose between the two. Remember, furniture should be laid out in the most functional way, i.e. dinner tables should allow the catering and wait staff to serve food and drink easily. Relaxation areas and bars shouldn't be too far away from the dining space, either, unless you want a clear partition for a reason."
Finally, Chenai & Bruce share their most important considerations…
“Remember to add in the price per day, and don't forget to factor in VAT.”
“When you book, try to commit as early as you can – rental companies may not hold as many numbers of items as you think.”
“If you hire larger pieces, they might need a two-man lift which again can increase the cost. Try and get help on the ground to unload and opt for curbside delivery where possible.”
“Collection might be dictated by the venue – some historical venues require you to de-rig/clear away by 2am that night, so ensure your rental company or supplier is able to provide a late collection service.”
“Consider the space you are working with. Round tables can be space eaters, and come in 5ft, 6ft and larger. This determines the number of people you can seat around them. Banquet tables – like long trestle tables – are a great way to make better use of the space, as they create clean lines and can really change a room – plus, they photograph well.”
“Seat pads are a must for making hard chairs like crossback or chiavari more comfortable. Detachable ones are great, as they can come in different colours – another way to add to or amplify your décor.”
“Try to reuse items from the ceremony for the reception if you have the time to change the room around. There’s no need to hire double quantities.”
“If you’re hiring furniture from multiple locations, do keep in mind that each one will charge you delivery and collection fees, which can add up very quickly.”
“Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully, especially where damage costs are concerned. Hiring beautiful furniture is expensive to begin with, but repairing it or replacing it can be very costly.”
“Most places will charge you a refundable deposit, which could be a large expense at the outset – even if you get it back at the end.”