From table and chair upgrades to chocolate fountains, adding rental items to your reception space can elevate your event to the next level.

Event planning can be overwhelming, especially when you're faced with seemingly endless options alongside the essentials. That's where our reception rental guide comes in, featuring rental options from the basics to the blinged-out.

When deciding what you'll need for your reception, start with the venue. Some Central Ohio sites include in-house rentals and packages, while others are more of a blank slate. For example, the Ohio Statehouse offers a classic reception package, complete with the essentials like tables, chairs and a sound system.

"What makes us unique is the client’s ability to customize their reception package,” says Shannon Pruzinsky, specials events manager at the Statehouse. "This flexibility exemplifies our commitment to client service; we will be with you from the first email to the last dance."

Couples also have the option to supplement or upgrade the items in the Statehouse's package with rentals from other vendors that focus on custom offerings. These vendors can provide upscale furniture, décor items and more.

“We don't have packages,” says Chase Merriam, operations manager of the Newark-based Main Events Party Rental. “We tried them, but everybody wanted to tweak it a bit.” Instead, Main Events rents items á la carte from a giant inventory that spans from candles to dance floors.

The Must-Haves

What's the one rental no reception should go without? If any part of the party will be outdoors, Merriam recommends a tent. “If it's going to be 95 [degrees], even if it's not going to rain, you're still going to want shade,” he says. You'll also want to consider heating, cooling and lighting systems for the tent, depending on the season and time of day.

Other essentials include tables and chairs, as well as a dance floor if the venue doesn’t already have one. Tables and chairs come standard at most venues; for example, the Statehouse’s reception package includes traditional Tuscan-style tables for the bridal party and rounds for the guests. Chairs are included as well, which can be upgraded to Chiavari chairs through an exclusive third-party vendor. If you’re looking to mix it up, companies like Main Events offer a variety of chair and specialty table options, such as cocktail tables.

Add Some Sparkle

Now that the basics are covered, you can have some fun with the details. You can transform a room almost instantly with key lighting add-ons, like the oh-so-popular vintage Edison bulbs or café-style string lighting.

You also can dress up the tables with elegant china, chargers, cutlery, beverage servers and linens. Connie Duglin Linen is a Florida-based rental company with an office in Worthington, that offers upscale table and chair linens in a range of fabrics, textures, colors and styles. Here you'll find embroidered sequins, satin, lace, taffeta and more. Add matching napkins, chair covers, bows or table runners for a particularly polished look.

Finishing Touches

Here's where the look of the reception really starts to come together. When choosing décor, you'll want a style that complements the aesthetic of the venue and your personal taste. If your reception will be in a classic setting like the Statehouse, candelabras may be the way to go, while those aforementioned Edison bulbs would work best in a rustic setting like a barn. Dressing up a bare space? Main Events offers backdrops among its many décor options. Other finishing touches to consider include centerpieces, a cake stand, candles and guest sign-in and gift table accents.

Make it Your Own

Looking for a showstopper rental item? You can't go wrong with a unique food or beverage server. If you're hosting an elegant event, think chocolate or champagne fountains. Laidback couples might prefer a cotton candy machine or sno-cone maker.

Finally, don't forget the entertainment for guests. Photo booths have been especially popular at weddings in recent years, and outdoor receptions have seen a rise in yard games like giant Jenga blocks or cornhole.

Couples have even rented inflatables like bounce houses from Main Events for their receptions. Merriam says some particularly creative couples have asked guests for $5 or $10 to spar with them in an inflatable boxing ring, in lieu of a more common “dollar dance.”

Whether you're selecting items big or small, it's important to reserve rentals early—especially for weddings during busy seasons like early summer and fall—as supplies at many vendors are limited. “We like at least six months in advance,” Merriam says. “We always let our customers reserve for the invited guest count, and then they have until two weeks prior [to the event] to adjust.”