By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting, Richmond, Va. 

Wedding planners from every corner of the industry understand the inevitable “rentals drill” involved when a bride books their services: confirming the venue, estimating the guest count, and proceeding with the booking of tables, chairs, and linens to complete the look.

With the advent of Pinterest and the continued popularity of wedding blogs and inspiration shoots, however, a new niche service is emerging and quickly catching the eye of design-savvy brides and their wedding planners. Unique rental companies are on the rise, boasting a variety of eclectic pieces from vintage couches and antique books to bistro lighting and funky cake pedestals.

Eye-catching pieces enhance day and impress guests
“The response has been remarkable,” says Lane’ Bigsby, owner of the Portland-based, eco-event and vintage rental company Something Borrowed. “We hear from couples that say their guests were in awe with so many personal and unique touches incorporated into their wedding décor.”

And while the reaction has continued to be positive, there is an uphill battle involving the inevitable learning curve when a new service is introduced to a sea of brides. “This is a typical challenge for any new type of industry,” says Morgan Montgomery, co-owner of Paisley & Jade, located in Richmond, Va. “We dedicate a great deal of time to educating our clients, explaining that it’s not just the cost of purchasing an item that you want to use at your wedding, it’s the time and energy spent sourcing it, restoring it, moving it, setting it up, and breaking it down.”

The relationship between wedding planners and unique rental companies are consistent with that of any two wedding professionals collaborating on the big day. Planners can expect to continue to be the driving, innovative force behind the overall wedding day vision, but are also welcome to lean on their rental counterparts for design tips and general inspiration if they choose. “We know our inventory best, and we love to play an active role in helping you reach your clients’ goals and visions,” says Bigsby.

The difference is in the inventory
So what is the biggest difference between a traditional rental company and the emerging eclectic company? In short, it’s limited inventory. Instead of a warehouse full of five-foot rounds, eclectic rental sites have limited stock because many are vintage products. Planners must be aware that any particularly distinct “must haves” need to be reserved well in advance. As Bigsby advises, “One key tip is to reserve as early as possible to secure the items you want. This gives you the chance to settle the details of the wedding and have first pick of one-of-a-kind pieces.”

Companies of this nature are also constantly on the lookout for new additions; so wedding planners are encouraged to put in request for items, even if they are not currently listed as part of the company’s inventory. “We are always in the midst of sourcing new inventory and for all you know, the perfect piece you’re looking for may be sitting in the back of my truck as we speak,” says Montgomery.

Trend-watching is key to effective use of rentals
Planners should also stay up-to-date as to the number of wedding trends on the rise, including comfortable reception seating areas, large-scale installations (think DIY looks executed by the experts), and unique lighting options taking center stage in 2013 and beyond. Vintage pieces continue to be prevalent, but continue evolving from their previous season pairing of burlap and rustic accents.

Montgomery is particularly fond of the mismatched look. “We love weddings that take on a variety of styles that encompass the same elements but are pulled together in a slightly different way,” he says. “Visually, it’s far more interesting than the exact same thing repeating itself throughout an event.” Bigsby adds that antique canning jars, suitcases, and cake pedestals continue to be highly sought after pieces in their inventory. “Additionally, we have a pair of sweetheart chairs with button-tufted details and heart shaped backs that everyone loves,” she adds.

Most importantly, the bride’s desire to personalize her wedding day from start to finish will continue to serve as the catalyst in designing the wedding of her dreams. And with the addition of unique and eclectic rental services to the marketplace, wedding planners are all but guaranteed the opportunity to do just that.

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