Make it rustic-chic, make it custom, make it classic--sometimes taking classic back in time to "vintage." These are some of the top trends in party rental now, based on the 14th edition of the Special Events 30 Top Event Rental Companies list, published in the November-December issue.

RUSTIC-CHIC RULES

A natural, rustic look is a hit with clients; "Nature-inspired items--organic, linen, wood, eco-friendly--are popular now," according to management at Chair-man Mills, "along with runners standing in for tablecloths."

The hot trend this year is "bringing the outdoors in, with [the company's] wood Descanso dining tables, garden hedges and natural fibers," management at Classic Party Rentals says. "Think 'wine country meets urban oasis.'"

Several companies offer their own rustic or "farm" tables; at Marquee Event Group, it's the "Vineyard" line, which continues to do well.

CLASSIC IS COOL

After years of silver as king, "Gold accents in glassware and cutlery" are coming back to the fore, says Chair-Man Mills.

But a simple looks takes precedence over embellishment. "Basic white or white plates with a simple gold or platinum rim, and simple glassware and flatware continue to be the choices of the day," explains management at Perfect Settings. "Clients are looking to cut costs, or they do not want to look like they are spending a whole lot of money--even if they are."

The story is similar at Select Event Rentals, where "simple china, stemware and flatware patterns" do well, management says. Also big this year: "Rosette fabrics and monochromatic patterns, and cool, vibrant hues--aqua, honeysuckle, eggplant, pewter."

VINTAGE VIBE

Altough clients still call for contemporary lounges, a trend toward an old-fashioned, vintage look is heating up.

Town & Country Event Rentals has launched a new line—"In the Vineyard"—of vintage-looking furnishings. The line offers more than 200 pieces that feature a slightly weathered look that adds a sense of warm and authenticity to events.

At Stamford Tent and Event Services, the vintage look shows up in higher end flooring. The company's custom pickled birch and English chestnut wide-plank floors do well, management notes, as do its sailcloth tents.

CALL FOR CUSTOM

Despite the sluggish economy, many clients still pony up for custom pieces.

Chair pads and cushions in custom colors are in demand at Peterson Party Center, while M&M The Special Event Co. does well with upholstered chiavaris.

This trend is driven by clients' desire to stand out without blowing out their budget. As management at PRO EM Party & Event Rentals explains, "Unconventional color palettes are on the rise as more couples are trying to creatively personalize their events on more conservative budgets."

If there is one color that reigns as king now, it still cool, quiet gray. "Clients love anything gray," says management at Pedersen's Rentals.

THE BIG, FANCY TENT

Many companies on the Special Events' list note that clients are happy to add dramatic elements—glass sides, French doors, multiple levels—to their tents.

"Glass tent walls, custom linen and fabrics, crystal chandeliers, and unique tabletop items have all proven popular with discerning clients looking to invent their setting in 2011," says management at TentLogix.

And with their tents, clients are going big.

"Large tents are increasingly popular as people recognize the creative freedom available to build a fantastic venue almost anywhere," says management at Special Event Rentals. "This year, clear-span tents were in high demand for the versatility of the interior as there are no interior poles to work around. Clear-top tents were a close second for their visual appeal."

WE'VE GOT YOU SURROUNDED

SER adds, "Especially for tented events, people want to feel surrounded by the event. It has evolved to more than just sitting at a beautiful table; our clients are looking for a full-sensory experience.”

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