The Low Down on Drapery

The Low Down on Drapery

We get calls and emails DAILY for drapery. Usually those conversations start off like this:

CLIENT: I am interested in some drapery for my wedding.

ME: Great! Do you have a particular look in mind? Are you thinking of doing it in certain areas of the room, the perimeter walls, entry?

CLIENT: It is going to be in a big room and the room is ugly, so I want to cover the walls and the ceiling.

ME: OK – which venue location is it exactly? Do you happen to know the dimensions of the room or the height of the ceiling?

CLIENT: It is [INSERT VENUE HERE]. I don’t know the dimensions, but it is 4,000sq ft and the ceilings are tall.

ME: (SIGH). Ok, well I am not familiar with this particular venue and in order to properly quote you on drapery I would need to get a little more information. (Google image search to find venue website). In looking at it online, it looks like the room is pretty large. The walls are plain white, are those the ones you are looking to cover? Also, judging from the photo the ceilings look to be about 18-20ft tall and I cannot tell from the photo whether there are any viable hang points, but I can tell that it would require a power lift.

CLIENT: Yes, how much will that cost?

Ok, so this conversation could take a while. Here’s the reality – we need to know the dimensions of the room in order to properly quote you. Most companies price drapery by the linear foot, which means the distance spanning horizontally across a room or area. We have to know those dimensions in order to determine how much equipment and drapery panels are needed.

Now ceiling drape…..that is a whole other ball game. Most people just assume that drapery just magically sticks to the ceiling and is easy peasy. The reality is that without proper hang points, it is just going to look awkward and be super complicated for those installing it. I am VERY picky about what venues we will actually do ceiling drapery in because I know that 9 times out of 10, in a venue that is not suitable for it, it is just going to look bad.

Want to add twinkle lights to that? Hmm, well is there access to power in the ceiling? No. Ok, we that means that we are going to have to run power from the wall up the ceiling. In some cases this can easily be hidden an achievable, but in many others it is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

Don’t get me wrong, in the right type of venue ceiling drapery can look really beautiful, but in a venue that is not suited for it, but honest opinion is spend your money on something else. Spend your money on the areas you WANT people to look at, not trying to cover up areas you don’t want them to look at.

So how do you know if your venue is suitable for ceiling drapery? First, how tall are the ceilings? If they are 16+ feet tall, then it will likely require a power lift, so plan on extra cost there. For really large spaces you are trying to cover, expect that custom cut fabric will also have to be used, so pricing is usually high. Are there beams or hooks available in the ceiling already? If you aren’t sure, check with your venue manager. Sometimes they are there, they are just hidden. There are times where magnets can be used to attach to metal beams. This works great for hanging lanterns, balloons, etc. Not always great for fabric as depending on how much, the weight of it can sometimes get to heavy for magnets to hold. Are there chandeliers or other lighting fixtures, fans, AC units, also affixed to the ceiling that are going to be in the way?

How much does drapery cost? Most rental companies offer pipe and drape anywhere in the range of $8-$20/linear ft. I caution you here. You usually get what you pay for. Our pipe and drape tends to fall on the slightly higher end at $12-$15/linear ft, but ALL of our pipe and drape is designed with inherently flame retardant fabric. This is important as many venues require it. Even if they don’t, it is not worth taking the risk that someone’s lighting equipment or candles aren’t somehow going to get close to it and create a fire hazard. Believe me. I have seen it happen first hand. Flame retardant is important so ask your vendors before booking. It is more expensive, but worth it.

Other alternatives? One of the most common things I suggest to clients looking for ceiling drape is that they consider doing something freestanding instead. This can be done over certain areas like the head table, cake, or dance floor. Usually this ends up being more eye-catching anyway and is much more cost-effective too. Also, have you considered lighting? Lighting can do a lot to change up a room, so before you think you have to completely drape off all four walls, consider doing some ambient up-lighting instead. You will likely find that gives you more of a transformed look and is usually more cost-effective too.

So think about these factors next time you are looking into doing drapery. Be educated and know the right questions to ask. An informed consumer makes for a good client, so you will likely receive the best quality product and service by asking educated questions. Be reasonable too and open to new ideas. If your venue isn’t well suited for it, don’t lose hope. There are still hundreds of other ways to make your event fabulous!