Photo by: Ashley Stelzer Photography
Wedding Reception

Reception Rentals Guide

Depending on your wedding venue, you may need to supply some, if not all the rental items required to host your wedding reception and serve your guests. Here is your ultimate wedding rentals checklist. 

When you book your reception site, be sure that you understand what’s included in the rental fee. Each venue is different, so you have to clarify with the site manager which items the venue provides and which wedding rentals you must provide. (This list of questions to ask your wedding reception site will help you determine what’s included.) As always, make sure that everything you have agreed upon is put in writing. Depending on the venue – and the type of reception you’re planning - you may need to supply some, if not all the items listed below. 

Wedding Rentals Checklist

  • Tables

Here’s a breakdown of the types of tables you may need:

Guest Tables

36-inch rounds seat 4-6 guests

48-inch rounds seat 6-8 guests

60-inch rounds seats 8-10 guests

6-foot rectangle seats about 8 guests

Cake Table(s)

Appropriate size depends on size of cake, whether you’ll also have a groom’s cake, and whether you’ll display both cakes on the same or separate tables. 48-inch round usually works well.

Head Table

Seats bridal party. Often consists of rectangular tables placed end-to-end.

Sweetheart Table

In place of head table, consider a small table that seats the bride and groom while the rest of the wedding party sits at guest tables. 

Buffet Tables

If you have decided on a buffet dinner, you’ll need to arrange several food stations, such as meet carving, etc. (Buffet tables may be provided by the catering company.)

Gift Table

Size depends on the number of guests you are expecting.

Guest Book Table

A small table for your reception guest book.

  • Chairs

For a seated dinner or buffet, you will need to provide seating for all reception guests. For a buffet-style cocktail reception, you may able to get away with enough chairs for half or more of the total number of guests. You may need to rent or purchase chair covers separately. High chairs for children should be available from rental companies.

  • Linens and Chair Covers

Linens and chair covers may be included with the rented tables and chairs, or you may need to source them elsewhere. 

  • Tableware

For a formal sit-down reception, tables are usually set with complete place settings. At a buffet reception where guests serve themselves, plates and silverware may be located at the buffet table.

  • Tent

A large tent or canopy may be required for receptions held outdoors to protect you and your guests from the sun or rain.

Options: Tents and canopies come in different sizes and colors. A smaller tent (20x20 feet) will accommodate about 40 guests at a sit-down dinner, a 20x40 about 200, and a 60x100 about 500 or more. Depending on the shape of your reception area, you may need to rent several smaller canopies rather than one large one. Contact several party rental suppliers to discuss the options.

Take pictures of the site for references for your tent rental company. Although they should survey the facility themselves before they set up the tent, the pictures are a good reference for them when you first set up an appointment.

  • Heaters/Air-Conditioners

You may need to rent heaters if your reception will be held outdoors and if the temperature may drop below 65 degrees. 

There are electric and gas heaters, both of which come in different sizes. Gas heaters are more popular since they do not have unsightly and unsafe electric cords. In warmer climates, portable AC units may be rented for outdoor events. 

  • Dance Floor

The size of your dance floor will depend on how many guests you expect. They can range from 12x12 up to 20x30 or larger. Get some graph paper and make a floor plan, and bring this to you when you visit yor rental company.

Wedding Reception