I am the founder and CEO of RENT MY WEDDING, the nation’s largest online event rental company. Rentals include event lighting, photo booths, drape backdrops, canopies, and more. All rentals are designed for quick and easy do-it-yourself setup. Clients order online, and rentals are delivered directly to their door. Shipping is free both ways nationwide. RENT MY WEDDING has a track record of success with the most 5-star reviews in the industry.
Over the past 9 years, I have expanded the business beyond rentals. Current subsidiaries and media divisions of RENT MY WEDDING LLC include:
- RENT MY VENDOR, an online vendor directory and marketplace.
- RENT MY PHOTOBOOTH, a photo booth manufacturer and rental company.
- GOBOS TODAY, a gobo disc supplier.
- RENT MY WEDDING Magazine, a print and digital wedding magazine featuring top tastemakers in the events industry. Expert columnists include celebrity wedding planner Preston Bailey, TV cake artist Ron Ben-Israel, and The Budget Savvy Bride.
- TRANSFORM YOUR WEDDING Podcast , an audio and video podcast broadcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube. The show focuses on wedding décor and details, with advice from experts including celebrity planner David Tutera.
RENT MY WEDDING has grown from home-based side hustle to the largest online event rental company in the U.S.!
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I am originally from Appleton, Wisconsin and now reside in Miami, Florida. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree with majors in Marketing and Management at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. Afterward, I completed a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Maryland School of Law, and am a member of the Florida Bar.
Only start a business if you are ready to put in the hard work and make sacrifices to (maybe) achieve success.
I started RENT MY WEDDING nearly 10 years ago while planning my own wedding. I was frustrated with the fact that there were no online shopping options for wedding rentals. And I was also disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to have wedding lighting for my reception because the high cost of full-service lighting vendors didn’t fit in the budget. Determined to find a way to get wedding lighting, I decided to purchase my own professional event lighting. At the time, there was no information about what equipment to use or how to operate it. After extensive research and testing, I finally figured out the “secret recipe” for wedding lighting. To recoup my costs on purchasing the equipment, I started posting classified ads on Weddingbee, offering to loan out the lighting along with instructions on how to use it. The response was overwhelming, and soon I was buying even more lighting than I needed for my own wedding! Initially, I ran the business out of my apartment. It finally reached a point where there was not enough space in the apartment or time in the day to keep up with all the orders. Having recently completed law school and passed the bar exam, I knew that pursuing a career as an attorney would be the safe bet. But I took the plunge and started my own company! I couldn’t be happier with that decision. The company has now become the largest online event rental company in the U.S., with the most 5-star reviews of any company in the industry. I have truly found her passion for helping others create the weddings and events of their dreams.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
When I first started the company, it was really just a side-hustle. I was going to school full-time and working part-time at a law firm. Renting out my wedding lighting was a way to start paying off my student loans as quickly as possible. Initially, I did everything myself, from processing orders to packing boxes. As things got busier, my fiance (now husband) would help me out after work. We would often be up until 3 AM just to finish all the orders! I had to move from my studio loft to a 2-bedroom apartment to fit all the products and boxes. Determined to maximize sales, I would take last minute orders and rush home between class to ship. I didn’t have a car at the time, so I would ride the bus to FedEx. I’ll never forget waiting at the bus stop with my handcart, and loading all the boxes onto empty bus seats!
As the business continued to grow, it was no longer possible to do everything myself or work out of my apartment. I decided to take the plunge and run the business full-time. I leased space and hired my first two employees. The rest is history!
During the first few years of running the business, I focused on perfecting the process. I wanted to make sure I could guarantee a flawless rental experience for every single client. This included things like finding the perfect packaging that would withstand boxes being thrown or left out in the rain -- which was particularly challenging since I was shipping fragile lighting products. I also developed a robust custom rental system that handles everything from inventory to shipment monitoring to quality inspections. Once the rental and return process was perfected, I turned to product quality. We developed a system for testing and inspecting all products to ensure all shipments arrive in perfect working condition. It was also necessary to establish an in-house repair department. This allowed us to fix items as needed rather than outsourcing repairs or replacing items unnecessarily.
Once the business was established, I started focusing on new product development. My goal was to find affordable DIY solutions for expensive technical wedding items. Since my first product - uplighting - was so successful, I decided to pursue other wedding lighting products. We added custom monogram lights, pinspots, texture lights, string lights, and special effects like starry night lighting and water effect lighting. Typically this type of lighting requires a professional, but we tweaked the products so that anyone could set them up - no experience required. Next, we moved on to photo booths. At the time, photo booths required a photographer to bring in a large booth with the camera. It was very expensive due to the professional’s time and equipment involved. We were the first company to manufacture a portable photo booth system. It features a compact design and automated software, so there’s no need for a setup crew or attendant! Our next big product was backdrops. At the time, pipe and drape backdrops were done using heavy steel equipment that could not be shipped due to size and weight. It typically required professional installers and lift trucks for setup. We developed the first tripod-based system, which allowed backdrops to be shipped and easily set up by anyone without ladders or special equipment.
In most recent years, we have started expanding the business beyond rentals. Thanks to my amazing team handling our core business, I have had the opportunity to get back to my passion for entrepreneurship and startups! This has resulted in several new subsidiaries and media divisions.
The first new startup is RENT MY VENDOR. We work with so many couples across the U.S. who are always asking us for referrals for other vendors, like planners and photographers. This sparked the launch of RENT MY VENDOR, an online vendor directory and marketplace. Vendors can list their business for free online, and our rental clients have access to a comprehensive directory of professionals!
Another subsidiary was launched as a result of components we use in our rental business. We developed a proprietary manufacturing process to create custom gobo discs for use in our monogram light rentals. Many clients would contact us requesting to order just the disc because they already owned their own monogram light. In response, we launched GOBOS TODAY, which supplies gobo discs nationwide.
We also provide free resources for the wedding industry. RENT MY WEDDING Magazine is a print and digital wedding magazine featuring top tastemakers in the events industry. Expert columnists include celebrity wedding planner Preston Bailey, TV cake artist Ron Ben-Israel, and The Budget Savvy Bride. Anyone can read the magazine for free on our website, or purchase a print issue on Amazon.com. TRANSFORM YOUR WEDDING Podcast is an audio and video podcast broadcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube. The show focuses on wedding décor and details, with advice from experts including celebrity planner David Tutera.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are very fortunate that RENT MY WEDDING has grown to become the largest online event rental company in the U.S.! WeddingWire has recognized RENT MY WEDDING as receiving the most 5-star reviews of any company in the events industry. Our social media has grown significantly, with more than 30 million views annually on Pinterest alone.
We are excited for the future of RENT MY WEDDING. Our goal is to continue adding more rental products and pursue our mission of being a one-stop rental shop!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the biggest lessons I learned is that HR is the single most important (and difficult!) aspect of the business. Having the right team will make or break your business. I am very fortunate to have worked with so many amazing and talented individuals who have all made RENT MY WEDDING what it is today.
As an entrepreneur, it’s very difficult to let go and delegate. I struggled with this for years. When I finally started delegating, I would micro-manage. Over time, I am learning how to give employees more autonomy. I’ve found that giving employees a sense of ownership in their work and the latitude to run with their ideas produces results even greater than I initially imagined. It’s honestly so scary to relinquish control like that -- and sometimes it does backfire -- but in the big picture you come out so far ahead.
The key to this all is hiring the right employees. Don’t be in a rush to fill a position. Develop an interview process that will help you really get to know a candidate. For example, we do an initial phone interview, several in-person interviews, and test logic and writing skills. Our customer service employees do mock customer calls as part of the interview process. This helps us see how a candidate will really perform on the job, not just how well they handle a job interview.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Canva is a great tool for social media design.
Mailchimp works well for our email campaigns.
FedEx has great developer resources that allow you to integrate many tools into your own websites, such as rate estimators, label generators, and tracking.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My #1 favorite resource for motivation is a podcast called Greatest Motivational and Inspirational Speeches Ever. It’s a compilation of clips from inspiring leaders. Every Monday morning I listen to one of these while I go for a run. It really gets me motivated for the week!
A few of my favorite books include:
Good to Great by Jim Collins
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Franklin Covey
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge! Starting your own business can feel like a huge risk. But as Steve Harvey once said, the only way to soar is to jump!
Be realistic. Many people start a business because it seems like it would be “fun” or better than working a 9-5. The truth is that being a business owner means putting in even more work than you normally would at a job. And you can pretty much forget sleeping during your startup years! Only start a business if you are ready to put in the hard work and make sacrifices to (maybe) achieve success.
Be passionate about what you do. The only way to get through the hard days and sleepless nights is if you really love what you do. Make sure you choose a product or industry in which you have some interest.
Failure is OK. Keep trying! My first business in 2008 was an online Christmas tree delivery service. I was so excited after I printed up business cards, created a fancy website, and landed a front-page article in the local newspaper. Guess how many trees I sold? Two. My next endeavor was a marketing firm. I created brochures, cold-called every business in town, and landed my first client. After 6 months, the client decided to take over the social media accounts I had set up, and do it all on their own. That was my first and last client for the marketing firm. Rather than looking at these businesses as failures, I think of them as stepping stones. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I never took a risk or tried something new!
Where can we go to learn more?
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.
Companies using Klaviyo see a 95x ROI (yes, 95x)
Use Klaviyo to turn hard-earned customer data into hard-working emails and texts.
Try the platform that 265,000 brands use to grow their business.
Try it now (it's free) ➜