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Terminally trending

In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, trying to keep up with the speed of trends is more challenging than ever.

Features | April 1, 2024 | By: Maura Keller

Whether a wedding is simple or extravagant, glitzy or subdued, bridal couples have a myriad of choices to make as it relates to wedding decor and accessories. And today’s tent and event rental companies need to have a finger on the proverbial pulse of all the latest trends to know what inventory to stock and to help couples make their nuptial gathering truly shine. 

Personalization is key when it comes to today’s wedding decor. Illusions’ large-format printing means couples can enjoy custom monograms on the dance floor. Photo courtesy of Illusions Rental & Designs.

“Offering unique specialty items, like selfie walls, personalized dance floors, neon signs and custom speakeasy builds, has always been a natural fit for our business,” says Laurie Ontjes, vice president of operations at Illusions Rentals and Design in San Antonio, Texas.

For 2024, Ontjes is seeing a growing demand for personalization in wedding decor and is consistently receiving requests to make clients’ events truly unique. 

“Couples want their monogram displayed everywhere possible—from bars and dance floors to napkins and lounge pillows,” Ontjes says. “Unique photo opportunities for events are in popular demand. Though we try to make every angle of our event designs ‘Instagrammable,’ we are seeing clients veer away from the traditional printed step-and-repeat or floral backdrops and move towards unique dimensional experiences with different thematic objects and decor items that make shareable moments part of the event guest experience.”

Including a statement piece like this dramatic green sofa from Aiden & Grace creates a warm, welcoming focal point for guests. Photo courtesy of Peak and Sparrow.

Karis Kemp, owner of Honeywood Rentals in Annapolis, Md., says one of the best ways to describe 2024 would be “bringing the indoors out.” And with that she means taking a gorgeous living room, dining room, restaurant or hotel and replicating those spaces under a tent. Some examples include wood or carpet flooring, manufactured bars and tables, upholstered dining chairs, full-size sofas, creative lighting and textured linens. 

“It’s all about luxury. Now more than ever, couples are looking to incorporate personal touches in their special day,” Kemp says. “We have seen an increased request for custom builds and personalized design elements. Specialty-themed escort walls and drink displays, bars with monograms, crests or patterned inlays, hand-lettered signage. That’s not to say everyone is looking for this caliber, but even on a small scale, most couples want to make a statement, design-wise, with at least one custom or high-style element.”

And while she hates to say it because Honeywood Rentals has quite the collection, the more rustic-type items such as handcrafted wood farm tables, bars, backdrops and arches are not trending as much as in previous years. 

Flashes of gold create a gorgeous contrast with the bare wood tables used in this tablescape. Photo courtesy of Honeywood Rentals.

“However, I do think there will always be somewhat of a market for this style because it lends itself beautifully to a farm or barn venue with a rich, classic warmth,” Kemp says. “Vintage rentals like mismatched china, antique furniture and accessories is another trend that comes and goes.”

One area of increased interest from bridal couples that has surprised Kemp are lounge pieces—namely, sofas, settees, side chairs, end tables, rugs and poufs. 

“The demand for lounge vignettes is more than I ever imagined. Couples want intimate areas where guests have the option to enjoy the celebrations in a comfortable space,” Kemp says. “These are popular for tented and indoor venues alike, and most clients opt to incorporate at least one or two vignettes in their design.”   

Aiden and Grace Specialty Rentals has been expanding its collection of wedding accessories and decor ever since being founded in 2016. Kate Krieger at Aiden and Grace says the company strives to stay on top of current trends and design aesthetics. One wedding accessory trend that Krieger is seeing includes custom bars and earth tones throughout all facets of the event. “Every bride is unique and we appreciate all styles. However, we are starting to see fewer inquiries for hedge walls,” Krieger says. “We also don’t offer a huge variety of little items (votives, vases, etc.). They don’t seem to be as popular as our large pieces such as couches, bars, shelving, custom walls, etc.”

Natural design aesthetics of rattan and wood elements and greenery complement a stark white tent structure. Photo courtesy of Honeywood Rentals.

Christie Botelho, chief operating officer at B&B Tent and Party Rentals in Eatontown, N.J., is receiving a lot of requests for more table decorations. “We started with lanterns and expanded into rustic backdrops and specialty items,” Botelho says. “We have a large inventory of timeless design elements, which we mix with upcoming trends.”

For clients in the tri-state area, Botelho says rustic accessories continue to be popular, and the company is receiving many requests for candy or dessert carts and tabletop displays and custom bars and shelving.

“One requested item that has surprised me the most is the interest in neon custom signs,” Botelho says. 

A regal tented structure creates both a statement and a focal point for wedding guests.

Picking winners (and losers)

Inventory management as it relates to wedding decor is part art, part science. Kemp started her company in 2017 with furniture and decor then added tents to Honeywood’s offerings a few years later. 

“We began renting specialty furniture and decor because we saw a real need for more elevated rentals. There were several tent and party rental options in our area but not many companies focusing on higher style, specialty rentals, like wood tables and bars, elevated dining chairs, lounge pieces, arches, escort walls, etc.,” Kemp says. “At the time, most options included basic folding chairs, tables and simple place settings.” 

In determining what items to stock in the company’s inventory, Kemp follows the trends, consults with planners and takes note of popular requests. If she receives multiple requests for a rental, she assumes it could be a hit, or hopefully at least pay for itself. 

“When it comes to retiring items, we can quickly run an inventory report to see what rentals aren’t requested enough to take up valuable space in our warehouse,” Kemp says. “Something that was a big revenue generator last year could fall flat this year. Trends change quickly in this industry. Those 500 specialty chairs you just invested in may not have the ‘shelf life’ you had hoped for. It can be difficult to keep up.”

Amber-colored glassware and gold-toned silverware add a unique flair to the lush floral tablescape. Photos courtesy of Illusions Rentals & Designs.

For Illusions, items that continually provide a high ROI include the company’s in-house tenting and fabrications investments. It rents a high volume of structures from 20-by-20-foot tents to triple-decker structures. The company also has an abundance of large thematic specialty items to incorporate within, such as oversized trees, Alice in Wonderland-themed 8-foot-tall teacups and 12-foot-tall cowboy boots, to name a few. 

“Other rental items with high ROI for us are various folding chairs and linen,” Ontjes says.

For Honeywood Rentals, its wooden crossback chairs have been a solid investment. They were the company’s very first purchase and have been a staple in its inventory. 

Classic white linens and accessories allow bridal couples to add color to this versatile environment via floral arrangements.

“They are a classic, versatile rental that work well as dining or ceremony seating and pair well with everything,” Kemp says. “No matter how many chair styles I purchase, the crossback remains the most popular by far.”

One rental product that didn’t pan out for Honeywood Rentals was a handful of arches and backdrops, either built or purchased, that weren’t constructed in a way that allowed them to function well as a rental. 

“They were either too heavy, cumbersome or overly complicated to assemble,” Kemp says. “We learned our lessons quickly and replaced them with more practical designs.”

Glass table tops and tablescapes exude a contemporary, industrial flair that is softened with just the right amount of fabric, florals and candleabras. Photos courtesy of B&B Tent.

Forming and maintaining strategic industry partnerships is also a vital strategy for sourcing and managing inventory. 

“We cannot all own everything,” Ontjes says. “Collaboration between key partners allows each rental company to expand in specific areas while not limiting the clients’ access to goods.” 

Maura Keller is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, Minn. 

SIDEBAR: Durable by design

Regardless of a table’s size or style, its ability to create a lasting impression hinges on its ability to last. When it comes to limiting rental wear and tear, storage and transport methods are critical. Companies continuously pursue and develop new tactics to keep tables safe while optimizing space. For example:

Palmer Snyder’s patented internal connector allows its MAXX-IC™ cocktail tables to stack up “like books on a shelf,” Lococo says. “You can store 20 tables in 10 square feet.”

CORT Party Rental makes its own covers, which have handles and are color-coded to correlate with each distinct style of table and storage cart. “Using a furniture pad and elastic, our covers essentially create a bonnet over our tables, which has saved us from damage during transport many times,” says Phil Heidt, group vice president. “So has the color-coding. It makes it much easier for takedown crews to ensure they bring the right equipment to pack and safely move the tables.” 

Look My Table also provides specially designed storage carts for each product line. And because all the company’s tables are modular, they can be stacked with or without removing the tops—which, as a bonus, are reversible, essentially doubling the life of each one.

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