Your Ultimate Wedding Rentals and Lighting Checklist

Here's a rundown of equipment to order for your wedding.
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
kim forrest the knot
Kim Forrest
Senior Editor
  • Kim writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in etiquette and planning advice
  • Kim manages freelance writers for The Knot Worldwide
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Kim was Associate Bridal Editor at Washingtonian magazine and Associate Fashion Editor at Conde Nast’s Brides Local magazines
Updated May 26, 2022

Your reception venue or caterer may not provide all the essentials, like tables, chairs and linens, or you might want to upgrade the style and add a few extra pieces to the space (did someone say after-party lounge?). That's where a full-service event rental company comes in. These pros will ensure you have everything from tents to forks in the proper quantities. You'll likely visit their showroom in the months leading up to your special event to pick out all of your event rentals, and maybe even see a mock up of your reception tablescapes (your wedding planner and florist will play a role in this as well). Use this comprehensive checklist to take inventory of everything you need to rent for your big day.

In this article:

Rentals You May Need for Your Venue

If you're getting married outside or in a raw space, like a loft or barn, you may need to bring in some amenities to fill out and furnish the space. This is particularly true for backyard weddings, where most everything


Many couples plan to host a tented wedding, while others reserve a tent in case rain is forecasted for their big day. Either way, a tent rental company can help you choose the best type of tent for your space and event size. There are lots of options, from sailcloth tents to clear top tents, pole tents, marquee tents and more.

In order to choose the right tent size, multiply your guest list number by 15 for the optimum amount of square feet you'll need. Your guest list multiplied by 13 is the absolute minimum that will realistically keep your guests covered without being overly crowded. So if you're having 50 guests (x 15), you should get a 750-square-foot tent.

Dance Floor

Some venues have dance floors already installed, but for others, you'll need to rent a dance floor and have it installed. In terms of sizing, we recommend at least three square feet of dance floor for every two guests.

Band Stage

If you're having a wedding band play during your reception, you'll need a stage or designated area for the performers. Talk to your venue coordinator, wedding planner and wedding rentals company about where that space would be and what is needed.

Portable Toilets

If you're hosting your wedding in a large outdoor space or backyard, you may need to bring in portable toilets or restroom trailers so guests can easily access bathrooms and won't crowd the restrooms in your home. A good rule of thumb is one toilet for every 50 guests.

Portable Kitchen

There are some situations when your caterer will need a portable kitchen—particularly for larger backyard weddings. Your catering company and rentals company can work together to figure out what equipment is needed and where everything should go.

Power Source

With all of this equipment running at the same time, you'll likely need some additional electricity. A generator or other power source may be necessary to fuel all of your wedding needs.

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Depending on your wedding venue, you might need to hire a lighting company to give your ceremony and reception a glow up. There are different types of event lighting, from pin spot to color wash to uplighting, gobos and more.

Rentals You May Need for Your Ceremony

Ceremony decor is usually pretty simple, but there may be certain items you'll need to rent for this special occasion. Your florist will likely play an important role with these rentals.


A ceremony altar is the area where you'll say "I do", and can come in different forms—some of which will have to be rented from a rental company or your florist. A ceremony arch is the most common backdrop, often decorated with florals. Certain religious and cultural weddings require specific types of ceremony structures, including chuppahs at Jewish weddings and mandaps at Hindu or Jain weddings.


You'll want to ensure that your guests have a place to sit during your ceremony, if your venue doesn't have them already. This may come in the form of chairs, benches or pews. If you decide to go the bench route, we recommend having a few rows of chairs with backs for your older guests.

Aisle Runner

Depending on your ceremony setting, you may need to rent or purchase an aisle runner, a long piece of fabric that stretches from the entryway of your ceremony space to the altar. Aisle runners can be simple or elaborate to fit your wedding style and budget.

Rentals You May Need for Your Reception

Your venue or caterer should have the essentials for hosting a meal. But if they don't, you'll need to reserve a few basic rental items.

Dining Tables

Tables are among the most important rentals you'll need for your reception—and there are quite a few options to choose from. Your reception venue may be able to accommodate square, round or long tables (or a mix of several styles), which are available in different sizes and can fit varying numbers of guests. The newlyweds can also sit at a smaller sweetheart table, or with their wedding party or family members at a head table.


There are so many types of chairs to choose from, depending on your wedding style and budget—modern Ghost chairs, rustic crossback chairs, classic Chiavari chairs and more. More basic chairs will require chair covers and/or chair sashes as well.


If your venue doesn't have a built-in bar, you'll need to rent a bar setup. Bars come in a variety of sizes and styles, so work with your rentals company and caterer to find the best one for your big day.

Serving Tables

You're likely working closely with your caterer to figure out your wedding menu and serving style—buffet, plated dinner, family style or cocktail style are the most common options. Now it's time to work with your rentals company to figure out the number and types of tables needed for meal service—tables for cocktail hour stations, tables for your buffet and more.

Cake Table

A wedding cake is often the centerpiece for a reception, so it certainly deserves its own table. Your cake baker can provide information on your cake's size so you can rent the right table.

Cocktail Tables

Cocktail hour is all about mingling, drinking and eating—and cocktail tables give your guests an opportunity to rest their drinks and plates and sit for a bit while enjoying the event. These tables tend to be smaller and seat fewer guests than reception tables, and you'll need about one cocktail table per 10 guests.


When it's time to eat, your guests will need everything from plates to spoons—and your wedding rentals company has got you covered! For each guest's place setting, you'll need chargers, plates, bowls (if your menu requires them) and flatware (plus extras!). And don't forget serving pieces for everything from bread to family-style dishes. Again, your caterer will work with your rentals company to ensure they have the pieces they need.


Whether your guests will be enjoying cocktails or mocktails, you'll need glassware for all of those drinks! Water glasses, red and white wine glasses, champagne flutes and bar glasses are all musts to ensure everyone can imbibe their beverage of choice.


Linens can infuse your wedding style into your tabletops. The main linens you'll need to focus on are tablecloths, table runners, and/or overlays for cocktail and reception tables, as well as napkins. There are hundreds of styles at a variety of price points, so you'll certainly be able to find linens that suit your event.

Rentals You May Need for Your Lounge

Wedding lounge areas not only look pretty, but they provide an intimate space for guests to mix and mingle during your special day. Party rental companies can provide a variety of unique furniture that fits your wedding style.


Comfy seating is a must for any wedding lounge. Whether you're going for a modern, minimalist vibe or a shabby chic feel, there are a variety of cozy couches to choose from.


Side chairs provide an alternative to couch seating and can add a unique feature to your lounge setup.


Guests shouldn't be shy about putting their feet up in the lounge, so ottomans can make a great addition.

Coffee and Side Tables

Tables not only provide an important function (a place for guests to put their drinks and plates), they can also display floral arrangements and other decor.

Pillows, Rugs, and More

Just like in your home, pillows, rugs and other accessories can add a pop of color and style to really bring your wedding style to your lounge area.

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