Ahh, the chair. For those of you who don’t plan events for a living, you may be thinking, what’s the big deal about chairs? But for many events – parties, galas, weddings, even (and sometimes especially) conferences – chairs are the unsung heroes of the event. They provide needed seating and respite for guests. But they are also an opportunity to wow guests when tied into the event decor.
Since chairs are such an important part of events, I’ve decided to do a two part post on chairs. Today, we’ll talk about the different kinds of chairs you can use at events, and the pros and cons, and when it actually makes sense to use a chair cover. Tomorrow we’ll talk about ways to decorate and embellish your chairs.
To begin, let’s talk about the chairs you will likely run into when planning indoor events at a hotel or banquet hall. Most hotels stock banquet chairs. They are stackable and usually have some modest padding on the seat and the back. They may be designed so they can lock together. They usually look something like this:
Many banquet and catering halls also use banquet chairs, or they may stock chiavari chairs. These chairs come in a variety of colors and usually are sold with a chair pad. They look like this:
Some banquet halls may just offer folding chairs, hopefully with a pad, like this:
Banquet chairs are probably the most comfortable, but there’s also the most variety and therefore the most risk. There are some absolutely exquisite banquet chairs out there. And then there are some… not so exquisite ones. Most of the time this has to do with the age of the chair. If the chairs have been around a long time there is a higher chance that they might be stained or the fabric might be ripped in places on some chairs. The type of fabric used varies – many facilities use a scotch guarded cotton/poly blend that repels some stains, but in some older venues I’ve seen vinyl and a faux leather look too. Color can vary as well – the trend now is neutral colors that work with the decor of the rooms they are used in, but I’ve also seen some funky colors.
When visiting a venue for a site visit, always be sure to ask to see the chairs and inspect them to check their condition.
So now that you know which chairs you’ll have on hand, if they are ugly, what do you do? There is always the chair cover, but I hate chair covers. This image is the stuff my nightmares are made of:
Seriously, traditional chair covers are awful and baggy and almost always white – why!?!?! They aren’t comfortable to sit on. And when it comes to cost, sometimes it’s around the same cost to just rent new chairs entirely.
Of course there are chair covers that are more tailored and look better – think more along the lines of “chair sleeve” or “chair glove” than “chair cover.” If you do choose to rent chair covers make sure you know which kind you’re getting.
The most important part of choosing a chair is making sure it’s comfortable for your guests. If you are asking your guests to sit for long periods of time, you’ll want to ensure there is some padding on the seat. Beyond that, the sky is the limit if you have the budget for all new chairs. In the Washington, DC area you can rent Chiavaris for a few dollars each on up to $10 or more, your market may be more or less expensive. You are certainly not limited to banquet chairs or chiavari chairs, these are just the most common chairs you’ll find in most venues.
If you do choose to rent chairs, it is easier and often more cost effective to go through another vendor, such as your caterer or florist. These vendors have existing relationships with rental companies that lead to bulk pricing discounts, and the vendors may be able to pass those savings along to you. They will also be able to schedule the delivery, set up and pick up for your chairs.
When pricing out chair rentals, be sure to keep in mind delivery fees, which can add up. If you’re trying to decide between chair covers and new chairs, if the venue owns the chair covers, they will likely just charge you a rental fee per chair cover, but not a set up fee (since all they are doing is slipping a cover on a chair), or a delivery fee since they own the covers.
Check back tomorrow when we’ll discuss the different ways you can take your chairs and embellish them for weddings and events!