While the ceremony is considered the most important part of a wedding, the reception is where the fun begins. Each reception site reflects the personality and style of the couple, as well as the trends of today’s popular wedding decor. Are your clients more comfortable in black-tie events surrounded by glittering china and crystal? Or does a more casual, family-friendly atmosphere fit the bill? From classic venues teeming with elegance to more relaxed reception sites that will let attendees kick up their heels in style—today’s hottest wedding decor is keeping the tenting industry on its toes.
In with the old
There is a reason why so many wedding receptions turn into cookie-cutter productions. There are people to please and placate, funds to be allocated, guest lists to be trimmed and complex rules of etiquette to be followed. It is no wonder that so many people end up with the same event they have attended a dozen times before.
Luckily, today’s wedding decor options offer tent and party rental professionals unique avenues to create distinctive atmospheres that can help their customers’ celebrations stand out from the crowd.
According to Robby Puckett, territory sales manager at McCourt Manufacturing, a manufacturer of stackable folding chairs, stackable stationary chairs and plywood folding tables in Fort Smith, Ark., the traditional look of folding chairs and plain linens is simply outdated within the wedding industry.
“Traditional folding chairs and banquet tables will always be needed and are a staple in any rental company, however, chair covers and linens with patterns are dressing up the traditional look of banquet environments,” Puckett says. In addition, unique furniture accoutrements, including lounge seating, rustic tables and seating, and luminescent bars and pedestals are extremely popular.
“Tolix® metal bistro chairs that originated in the mid-20th century are trending big right now,” Puckett says. “Also, we have a new color in our aluminum Chiavari seating called Champagne, and it is a hot selling item.”
With a distinctive distressed finish, McCourt Manufacturing’s Tolix Rustic Metal Chairs come in a variety of colors and add a midcentury modern flair to wedding settings—from modern industrial venues to old country bars to elegant ballrooms. As Puckett explains, this style of chair has been in use since 1934, when the first Tolix Metal A Frame was introduced as an inexpensive and easily mass-produced product in the aftermath of World War I.
“It is a little surprising that the rustic look is still in as strongly as it is, but we like it because we sell a lot of furniture for this trend,” Puckett says.
Danielle Benevour, client services manager at Choice Party Linens in Glenolden, Pa., says the current “it” wedding decor pays homage to Pantone’s color of the year: Greenery. Event spaces are full of woodland themes and ethereal accents such as raw wood chargers and natural branch centerpieces with mossy rocks. Dance floors are matte and natural and farmhouse tables are featured with gorgeous Chiavari chairs.
“In linen rentals, we are seeing an upswing in rentals of our Cascade collection, which mimics a leafy texture, and our Panama collection, which is a faux linen material that is similar in feel to faux burlap,” Benevour says. “Designers and consumers alike are looking for enchantment and whimsy, so the rest of the decor follows suit.”
Dan Hooks, chief executive officer at Party Reflections in Charlotte, N.C., is seeing an upswing in the trends of custom draping, custom bars, faux wood finish flooring, texture in linen and mixed seating using round and square tables at cafe and bar height.
“We are also seeing custom chandeliers with Edison light bulbs featuring wood and metal elements in various sizes,” Hooks says.
Maurisa Beaver, creative director at Party Reflections adds that the trend, quite simply, is what your client is willing to pay for.
“If a client wants Mason jars for their reception or has been dreaming of blush satin linens, then it doesn’t matter if the industry says it is going out of fashion,” Beaver says.
That said, Benevour stresses that over-the-top gaudy themes are on their way out.
“As an industry, we are moving away from cluttered up tables with zero negative space,” Benevour says. “The overcrowded look has given way to more a more understated and streamlined aesthetic. The overtly glam elements are giving way to vintage counterparts. For example, this means less glitzy chandeliers and more candelabras with a patina.”
For lighting, Jacqueline Klene, event designer at Exclusive Events Inc. in Earth City, Mo., is seeing a lot of patterned lights and chandeliers at wedding functions.
“Being in the Midwest, we’ve seen a lot of rustic looks in tents the past few years, but clients are getting more adventurous and seeking more modern looks now,” Klene says. “Instead of crystal chandeliers that used to be so popular, geometric metallic chandeliers with Edison bulbs are getting to be very prominent.”
Italian string lighting also has remained a constant over the years with wedding events. It is the perfect lighting option for tents because it gives you just the amount of light you need, is dimmable and creates a classic look while staying modern.
Colors that wow
Some of the biggest trends for wedding decor this year are bold colors and distinctive designs. And it appears that green is the hottest color for 2017.
Deep brown, metallic, amber lighting and greenery with florals are the color trends of the moment.
“Clients are still enjoying the natural feel that tents often provide but they want to modernize it with bold colors and shapes,” Klene says.
“The colors seem to be teal and blush or peach combinations, and we are selling our clear Chiavari chairs more than we have in the past few years,” Puckett says. That said, industry experts agree that everyone still seems to be requesting the rustic, “farm table” look, including shabby chic decor, vintage charm and venues that are in the country (or look as if they are).
Hooks at Party Reflections says that metallic colors, including copper, gold and silver are very popular, as are neutral colors, such as champagne, ivory and gray tones.
“There also is a trend in mixing textures,” Hooks says. “This means mixing and matching within the same color family but including a different texture with each linen.”
“We have seen a lot of lace used with the rustic look for the brides,” Puckett says. “This trend even seems to be more popular in the Northeast than it has ever been. On the West Coast, the use of bright colors and all black/white themes have been requested by our customers that purchase our dance floors that we manufacture here in the U.S.”
And as for themes, the rustic barn look is still popular. “Interestingly, bourbon also is growing tremendously outside of its origin of Kentucky,” Puckett says. “Coming back from a recent show in California, I saw a lot of bourbon barrels and Tolix chairs incorporated with the rustic bar theme.”
Industry experts agree that trends on the East and West coasts are always a bit more progressive. The standout combinations for 2017 weddings on the schedule for Choice Party Linens include rich greens with natural accents and black paired with gold and pops of mint.
“As for the Midwest, naturals are as popular as ever,” Benevour says. “We seem to never have enough panama or burlap. It makes for such a great foundation. These themes are spurned by Pinterest, no doubt.”
As wedding and event patrons crave variety and demand a wider range of decor options, tenting and party rental businesses need to pay close attention to the trends.
Puckett and the team at McCourt Manufacturing stay on top of the wedding industry trends by following customers’ social media accounts, customer web sites and blogs and by talking to them about how they are using the furniture and equipment they purchase from McCourt.
To stay on top of the latest industry trends, Hooks and his team read and subscribe to a variety of industry related publications. They also attend local, regional and national conventions as well as industry association meetings such as NACE, ILEA, and MPI.
“Overall, we listen to our clients and what they want to rent or have us source or build for their clients,” Hooks says.
And paying attention to the nuances that are popular in various regions of the U.S. also is vital for any event company’s success. For instance, Klene notes the unique attributes that each region has to offer and designs an event accordingly.
“For example, the Midwest is very lucky in that we have some pretty flat land, so it is not always necessary to do flooring, which helps create that natural atmosphere in the summer,” she says. “West Coast and East Coast bridal and events magazines are always very telling about what is to come. But first and foremost, the Internet is a great way to see what is going to get popular the next year. About a year ago, terrarium centerpieces started to spring up and now we are doing guest tables that are shadowbox tables filled with foliage. It is so exciting to see how one element can influence the other.”
Benevour is pleasantly surprised to see that more wedding events are taking a less traditional route.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the formal dress and guestbook with the seating chart. But I am falling in love with the idea that event planners are embracing clients’ desires to be less formal and have more fun,” Benevour says. “Events are starting to incorporate more lounge areas and extend the idea of family style from just weddings into corporate events. I don’t think traditional formality will ever die out, but it’s nice to see the dynamic shift.”
Based in Plymouth, Minn., Maura Keller frequently writes about applications of specialty fabrics.
Dan Hooks says he believes in building Party Reflections’ inventory with items that are sure to rent in the future. “If we feel it is more fad than trend, we will probably try to source it from someone else,” Hooks says. “We would rather purchase especially if we can charge full replacement as a rental charge.”
And for Jacqueline Klene at Exclusive Events, keeping most of their decor items in inventory even after they have gone out of fashion is paramount. “As a designer, one of the most exciting things is to repurpose old decor items and reimagine them in a new way so that they can live to see another event,” Klene says.