I am continually asked by clients who are watching their spending plan if moving chairs from the ceremony to the reception is a good way to save money. Before we talk about the actual money part, let me give it to you from another (almost more important) angle: it is never a good idea to move chairs from the ceremony site to the reception site and here’s why: people and logistics. From the bridal party needing the ceremony site for post-ceremony photos, to guests still lingering at the ceremony site, there is nothing more awkward, less-gracious and classless than staff having to tear down chairs and make their way around guests, asking them to move, running into them, and more.
I’m also an advocate of not showing what I call the “underpants” of the event. Showing equipment of any kind being broken down in guest view is the height of distaste in my professional opinion. And this goes even for “casual” events. Let’s be honest: there is a difference between “casual” and “sloppy”. I love a good, casual event. But “sloppy” is unacceptable to me for any of my clients. But beyond all that, it’s just clumsy and awkward to have guests have to move, be bumped into, etc. and have clients and their guests witness the “behind the scenes” of an event. The only rare exception it may work is where the guests have all adjourned to a separate “holding” cocktail area (out of view of ceremony site completely) and are not present while staff are able to transfer chairs (without being seen) into the reception area , which is locked and not available to guests until later.
Now let’s talk money, which is often the number one deciding factor for many. Clients sometimes see a rental bill for ceremony chairs and then “double” that in their minds for what it would cost to rent a second set of chairs for the reception/dining. Because of this, they automatically shut down the idea of renting that second chair set because all they see is the cost being doubled. But what if you knew that the cost of the caterer having to schedule extra labor to move that first set of chairs and/or scheduling the rental company to come back to move them would cost about the same as or in fact, perhaps more than simply renting a second set of chairs to begin with.
Take this rental company invoice as an example:
75 Folding Ceremony Chairs = $281.25
Rental Company Labor to Return to Move those chairs to reception site= $360.00
The lowest bid we found was $1. 25 less than a second set of chairs to hire the rental company to come back to move that first set of chairs (so not a significant difference enough to ask your guests to endure the inconvenience of staff breaking down in front of them). So do not be “wooed” with simply seeing the price tag for one set of chairs and thinking you will save money by having the caterer or rental company move that one set for you. Trust me, you will be paying for that labor somewhere else, and you are better off having a second set of chairs from the start.
Regarding the catering company moving chairs, it is a misconception by many clients who think that because they already have staff working their event and can “just” pitch in (hint: there is no such thing as “just” when assuming something in special event production) to move things as needed. They often can, but they need to know in advance (like, by your 10 day prior guarantee deadline) and schedule extra staff to do this as well, since they only schedule enough staff to do the actual event itself- food and beverage prep, service, setting tables, and much more. Everything is meticulously scheduled and planned for, so with them having to bring in staff just for moving chairs alone, you will pay a premium, since the staff can’t be used for other parts of the event.
Do your prep work. Don’t just look at one line-item for a price quote- look at what it is costing you to not have something done properly. It most likely means you are paying for it somewhere else. Be savvy.