If you're not using a typical event space, you have to bring in all the essentials, and that may include a powder room. Here are our tips on how to handle the bathroom situation with ease. Because nobody talks about it, but everybody uses it.
One stall for every 75 guests, assuming a "his" and a "hers," is the absolute minimum, according to Natalie Litera Jones, director of operations at Service Sanitation, in Gary, Indiana. "But you don't want your guests standing in line," she says. "Adding [about 50 percent] more will get them in, out, and back on the dance floor."
If guests will be driving a distance to the reception, Marina Birch, founder of Birch Design Studio, suggests adding extra toilets to avoid long lines when everyone arrives. Some rental companies have planning calculators to help you account for such details.
You'll need access to power and water sources (or portable water tanks), flat ground (pavement is preferable to dirt), and room for trucks to get in and out.
For the nicest restroom experience, skip carnival-style porta-potties. They lack running water, counter space, mirrors, and fully self-contained waste tanks—making them very quickly unpleasant. Instead, Jones suggests a restroom trailer, which provides all those accommodations, plus indoor washbasins and private stalls. Some even offer high-end bells and whistles like hardwood floors, marble counters, skylights, and flat-screen TVs—nice splurges if your budget allows.
New Vs. Used
Birch says that the newest portables are nicest. "They feel clean and bright," she says. "I prefer a brand-new restroom trailer with laminate counters to an older model with marble."
Our experts agree: Hiring a bathroom attendant—who can restock toiletries and keep counters and floors clean—is well worth the cost. A vendor-provided attendant will also be able to fix small issues with the trailer itself without much fuss, says Jones. Either way, a basket of amenities will keep your guests' comfort covered. Include items such as hand lotion, mouthwash, breath mints, hairspray, bobby pins, sanitary products, painkillers, bug spray, and a small sewing kit.
The Bottom Line
"Portable restrooms can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars," says Jones. Aside from optional features, the biggest variable is delivery. "If you rent from a company that has to drive far to get to your venue, it's going to increase your fee substantially." So find a local source if you can.