Wedding Ideas

Wedding Reception Decor: Chair Covers 101

Posted At : November 7, 2008 4:27 PM   |  Posted By : Bridal Network   |  Views: 75,082
Articles on these Topics: Wedding 101,Style & Decor,Do It Yourself (DIY)
Articles about these Services: Decorating: Decorators, Decorating: Supplies, Rentals & DIY

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Chair covers are an affordable and easy way to instantly spruce up any reception venue. Add a few extra "accents" to them, like sashes, flowers and ribbons and you can instantly take your look from simple to grand, from formal to flirty, or from understated to bold.

A wedding reception necessity

    Increasingly, brides-to-be are realising that chair covers are not just a "luxury" or an optional add-on. They are both an integral component of your decor and (surprisingly) very easy on your wedding budget. Indeed, using chair covers for your reception may actually save you money. Here 's a quick list that makes the case:

    Chair Covers complete your Wedding Decor

  • Chair covers will instantly transform the room.
  • They add elegance, formality and uniformity
  • They are great for covering unattractive chairs
  • You can colour coordinate your décor without having to worry about clashing with the colour of your venue's chairs
  • Chair covers complete the look. A room decorated without them looks unfinished.
  • They are the first thing people notice when they walk into the room. They make an instant impression and set the tone for entire night.
  • Chair Covers can reduce your Wedding Budget!

  • You can book a less expensive venue and pretty it up with chair covers, at a fraction of the cost of renting a luxury location.
  • Chair covers are actually quite affordable. Ranging in price from about $3ea to $8+ ea, there is something in everyone's price range.
  • Chair covers create such an impressive look that you can spend less in other areas of the décor without compromising the style. Really, all you need is centre-pieces..
  • The reverse, however, is not true. You could not pass on the covers and expect to have your décor make the same impact.

Much has changed in the chair cover world since the early 90's. The original tight-fitted, spandex cover has given way to many new styles and fabrics. With so many options at affordable pricing, the question is no longer "should I use chair covers" but rather "what cover is best for me?"

Chair cover options

    Cover Types

  1. Spandex fitted covers offer a sleek, modern look. These covers are made of 4 way stretchable fabric (lycra or similar) and are installed to fit over the entire chair, including the feet. Since all the fabric is stretched over the chair, there are no loose parts anywhere. The cover itself molds to whatever the chair's shape is. With all that stretchy power, they fit almost any chair (no arm chairs).

  2. Loose drop covers are excellent for stacking banquet chairs. Currently the most popular style, they can be a straight fit from top to bottom, pleated at the back or gathered at the seat for a skirted look. They are available in fabrics ranging from poly/cotton blends to pin tuck taffeta. (They even come in a high back version to fit dining room style chairs common in many Chinese restaurants.) In most cases, these covers have little or no give to them; so, size is important here. Most chair cover vendors carry the loose drop cover in varying sizes to accommodate the different sized banquet chairs in the market.

  3. Self tie covers (also known as "hugs") are an excellent choice all around because they pretty much fit anything (again no arm chairs). These covers (usually in satin) are cut in a large square piece that "hugs" the chair while being tied by its own fabric in the back. They work on stacking banquet chairs, as well as many folding and oversized chairs. They even work on those high back dining chairs at Chinese restaurants!


    While covers dress the chair, accents decorate the cover. Your options here are many as well. You could opt for sashes tied in bows, single puffs, double knots, or ascot ties. You could double a sash with a flower for added colour or try a simple spandex band around the chair back for a less fussy look. This is where you can let your creativity reign and come up with a combination that not only suits your décor but also reflects your personality.

    The most common accents are sashes in:
    • Organza
    • Satin/Silk
    • Taffeta (plain or pin tuck)

    There is no real rule of thumb for what fabric to use for the sashes. In the early 90's, taffeta was our sash fabric of choice. Then, as the chair cover industry became more popular, we began experimenting with different fabrics, like tulle at first, then organza. In recent years, many vendors are choosing to work mainly with satins and taffetas. Organzas offer a light, airy look. While the satins and taffetas, by virtue of being solid fabrics, give a heavier appearance.

Chair covers and your Wedding Budget

With so many chair cover options out there, where do you start if you're trying to stick to a budget?

  1. "Do-it-Yourself"

    A great way to save money on your wedding décor is to do some of the work yourself. Rental items, like chair covers, are an excellent example of DIY decorating. You will, of course, have to recruit some family and friends to help out but with a few extra hands, the job will be done in no time.

    Here are some time guidelines for first time chair cover "do-it-yourself-ers":
    • 100 covers/sashes – approx. 1hour with 3-4 people
    • 150 covers/sashes - approx. 1.5 hours with 3-4 people
    • 200 covers/sashes - approx. 2 hours with 3-4 people

    In most cases, your venue will allow you access to the room all day. Sometimes, you may even be able to get in the night before to do your set up. However, there are some venues which have very definite time constraints and will only allow access to the room a few hours or less before your event begins. If this is the case, pay your vendors to do the work. A professional crew will be able to do the installation faster and better in a short time period. The money you spend on the installation will be well worth the frustration you will save by rushing to get things done.

    If you still would like to save some money on the decor but don't have time to handle the installations, ask your vendors if they would give you a discount for taking down the items. Since it saves them a trip in the middle of the night to take everything down, you may just be able to negotiate a great rate!

  2. Keep it Simple

    Covers made of specialty fabrics and custom colours are often more expensive than your basic white poly/cotton option. The reason is simply, maintenance. The more expensive the fabric, the higher the cleaning and pressing costs, therefore, the higher the rental rate. Although these specialty linens are beautiful, keep in mind that your main objectives are to cover the chairs and to give the room a uniform look. Regardless of which fabric you go with, your end result will be the same.

Story by Petroula Kletas, Chairs with Flair Seat Cover Co, in Vancouver.
Since 1994, Chairs with Flair specialises in one thing: chair covers. (In fact, they were the very first chair cover company in Western Canada) Owner/operator Petroula Kletas is a regular contributor of chair cover trends, tips and etiquette in the local magazines, and also publishes her own blog at

To find chair cover rentals in your city, simply browse "Decorating: Event Rentals" in the directory.

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