The date’s been set, the venue’s been booked, and the weeks are flying by as the big day approaches. You’re planning the social event of the year, and from concept to completion, you need everything to be just right. As you figure out a theme, a headcount and a general sense of what you want the occasion to look, sound, taste and feel like, it’s time to hire the services of a company–or group of companies–to fill the space with tables, chairs, furniture, decor, bites, sips, barware, music and more. So, is a “one stop shop” event rental partner right for you, or would a boutique event rental company be more your stride? Read on for insights into the pros and cons of each type.

What’s What

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When it comes to planning an event, there are almost always more details to take care of than anyone imagines at the outset. For an occasion with a sit-down dinner, tables and chairs are just the beginning: there’s still the entrance lounge, post-meal mingling spaces and exterior elements to consider; for an awards ceremony, it’s as much about the audience as the stage; for an outdoor event, a plan B (and maybe even a plan C) is always critical in the event of inclement weather. And those are just the basics to ensure every attendee has a place to sit, a glass to drink from and a fork to eat with. Decor and ambiance are another important layer to blend into the mix from the get-go. So, in theory, it might make sense to work with a full-service event rentals company who can write up one big contract for everything from the tables, chairs and lighting to every last cocktail toothpick. Right?

Well, maybe, maybe not. Scratch the surface and, depending on how particular your needs might be, a one-stop shop may be a bigger exercise in compromise than you ever expected. Their business model is one that depends on wholesale deals and bulk orders, which can limit the array of choices they offer for any given object. And since it’s all about the bottom line, they might still try to eke out the last bit of profit from furnishings and decorative elements that were on trend a few years ago, but not so much any more.

That’s part of the reason boutique event rental companies are beginning to stake a claim alongside their larger, older counterparts, and also why they’re rising in popularity. In the end, their purpose is to deliver a truly boutique experience, catering specifically to each client’s every need and making sure they deliver precisely what’s been requested of them–not just a cheap approximation of it.

Who’s Who

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At first glance, it might seem like working with a boutique agency (or, in some cases, an array of them) would double or triple the amount of work when it comes to planning an event. After all, it’s that many more contracts, deposits, emails and phone calls, right? Not to mention the amount of shopping around that has to be done for every last element? Well, actually, that’s not necessarily the case.

As the boutique event rentals market grows, so do its internal connections, to the point where connecting with the right decor company can actually score you an inside deal on tent rentals, caterers, entertainers and more. While small businesses like these are certainly built on client service, they’re also creative by nature, and inherent in that type of business is a collaborative way of working with fellow enterprises. Often, the place where you order your vintage lounge furniture and fine china is the connective force that puts the right florist, DJ, chef or marketing company onto your radar screen and gives your event that extra push it needs to be truly memorable. Since the event planning industry is built on relationships, those connections can pay off in spades if you cultivate the right ones for yourself as your event approaches.

Which Is Better?

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Ultimately, the main difference between big-box, full-service event rental companies and smaller, boutique brands comes down to quality and variety. One-stop shops may be able to deliver all the material objects you need to check off your list, but you’ll likely be compromising on style and quality in some cases. If you approach the right boutique company, on the other hand, you’ll be able to bring your vision to life without settling for less than what you want, and you might open the door to other dream partners as well.

For events with a strict budget and a distinct aesthetic goal, a mix of companies could bring the occasion together both looking great and costing exactly what you can afford — for example, working with a large rental partner for foundational items like dining tables, tablecloths and flatware while hiring a boutique consultant for more highly visible elements like chairs, lounge furnishings, and decor can help you cut corners on some line items while maintaining your desired level of elegance on others.

Ready to start weighing your options and pulling your event together to make it pop? Feast your eyes on the contemporary lounge furniture of the Kennedy Collection, for starters, and let your imagination run wild. Ready to see some in person? Drop us a line and let’s make a date!