Portable toilets for a wedding. How many and what type do your need?

In Weddings by Joni

How many toilets do you need for a wedding?

Reckon one per 20 to 30 people for a one day event but fewer toilets for just an evening. Then decide whether you will go basic and rustic, event-style or luxury.

One toilet per 20-25 staff is the advised standard for offices in the UK and the US so this might be a good figure to bear in mind.  Yes, office staff are at work all day but they don’t all want to use the loo at the same time.

As an absolute basic, hire companies often suggest two toilets are sufficient for 100 guests at an 8 hour wedding or 4 toilets and 2 urinals for 200 guests.  But this may be a bit skimpy depending on the timetable of events, the catering and the ages of the guests. 

Calculate when the loo will be used

Consider the wedding timetable.  When the ceremony finishes and guests take a glass of champagne there’s often a bit of standing around.  A great moment to get to the loo before the eating starts. 

The meal has finished and the dancing is going to start – perfect time to freshen up. 

The evening approaches and the children are getting tired.  They’ve been drinking juice all afternoon.  Best to take them to the loo before they go home or flake out on a bench.

The problem is that for hours the toilets may hardly be used but then suddenly there are queues.

Why wedding loos get lost of users

At the office, you may not need to touch up your makeup, reposition your fascinator, check your hair or change into dancing shoes, or at least not as often as your guests will need to at the wedding. 

Plus, when photos are being taken – which is often throughout the whole day – everyone needs a (large) mirror and the loo might be the only choice.

Factor in drinking. If there’s an open bar guests will visit the loo more often.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more often.

Think about the guest list. Anyone elderly or in a wheelchair? Are you inviting young children?  Remember that the younger the child the more frequently they need the loo.  Think about where mothers will change babies too, if you are  going for a very family-oriented event. And where will they put the dirty nappies?  You may need an upgraded toilet cubicle or one designed for the disabled.

Why you need extra loos for a wedding at home

If there are other bathrooms available, inside the house for example, then you’ll need fewer extra toilets.

But you may wish to keep the bathrooms indoors for family only.  In fact you may want to keep the best bathroom with the best mirror and lighting just for the bride, groom and bridesmaids.  Then they can keep all their makeup and changes of clothes in there too.  They’ll need plenty of space.  Besides, asking a woman in a huge white gown to queue to use the loo is not really acceptable is it?

If the wedding is in a field then you will need toilets for everyone including the bridal party.  So what toilets are worth hiring?

What type of portable toilets are available?

The basic porta potty rental toilet is indeed a basic affair.  It is about 4 foot square.  That doesn’t allow much space for elegant gowns.  And as the floor will get muddy it means ladies in long dresses will need to hitch them up to enter.  This style of loo is best suited to events where everyone wears rubber boots and the lack of electric lighting in the evening is accepted as a necessity.

But fortunately portable toilets now come in lots of sizes and levels of comfort. Here’s one of my blog readers who offer a huge range of portable toilets for any occasion. They’re based in Mississippi USA.

For events several toilets and hand-basins are often grouped together as a single comfortable unit.  These units offer various fittings which can include:

  • Heating or air conditioning
  • Down-lighters
  • Long mirrors
  • Vanity areas just like in a home bathroom
  • Freshwater flush
  • Superior finishes including contemporary, classic and country
  • If you have any disabled or very elderly guests you should enquire about a larger toilet with disabled access.
  • If you have guests bringing children under two then ask about toilets with a changing area.

Top-of –the-range luxury portable loos can include:

  • A line of cubicles, plenty of space and hand basins set into one long vanity unit with large mirrors over.
  • A vacuum technology fresh-water flush
Two mobile toilets with steps up finished in dark green externally
Thanks to Allstartoilethire.co.uk for this image

Do portable toilets need a water supply?

Extra toilets for events do not need to be connected to the water system or drains.  They need a connection to an electricity supply – either in a building such as your garage – or a generator.

Chemicals in the toilet keep it sanitised.  At the end of the event it is emptied by the rental company.

The toilets arrive on a trailer just like a prefabricated building.  Once in situ they have steps up from the ground to the door of the restroom.  The towing vehicle is unhitched but the tow-bar usually remains.

How much space do you need for a portable toilet?

The most basic chemical toilet is 4 sq ft.

Luxury loos.  The trailer with, for example, 3 ladies cubicles, 1 gentleman’s cubicle, 3 urinals, 3 ladies’ hand-basins, 2 gentleman’s hand-basins, with vanity units will measure about 16 ft x 7.6 ft plus the tow-bar if present will add another 4 ft to the length.

What is the rental cost for a portable toilet for a wedding?

UK: Allstar Toilet Hire which covers most of England and Wales propose prices starting at £385 + VAT + delivery for a basic event-style WC and have useful information and diagrams for their more luxury toilet units. 

USA: Prices, depending on supplier and delivery distance, range from $100 for a basic chemical toilet, $150-$250 for a larger handicap accessible chemical toilet, up to about $375 for a flushing toilet and from $1,000 to $4,500 for a trailer with multiple WC’s of a luxury wedding standard.  These prices are for a weekend hire and include set up and delivery. For example take a look at 802 restrooms covering upstate New York.

When getting a quote for portable toilets check whether the following are included:

  • Site survey
  • Delivery and return
  • Set up the day before the wedding and take away the day after the wedding or complete weekend hire from Friday afternoon to Monday morning
  • Valet service during the event
  • Waste disposal
  • Full cleaning and more than a single emptying if booked for an event lasting more than a single day
  • Handbasins – always included for anything but a very basic model
  • Soap and towels
  • Hygenic bin for women’s toilets
  • Area for baby changing and closed bin for disposable nappies
  • Access for disabled guests
Mobile toilets in a pretty garden setting
Thankyou to 802restrooms.com for this image

How can you make a portable loo nicer to use?

If you are hiring a luxury toilet or toilet unit then you’ll have a bit more space to upgrade the user experience.

Whilst the rental company will provide soap and towels you might leave these for the guys and offer the girls better soap and perhaps individual handtowels.

Put some flowers in at least the girls’ side.  Fresh are nicest but quality silk flowers can look really good too and won’t get wrecked if they’re knocked over.

Offer a selection of fragrant hand-wash and hand creams.  You could have a matching room fragrance too to keep things fresh and floral.  Have a look at what toiletries Marks & Spencer are offering.  They often have good sales and they offer their own products and fashionable branded toiletries too. These are the sort of items you can buy in months before the big day. That’s another item checked off your list.

Why not have music?  Some luxury mobile restrooms can offer this or find a friend to sort out the best way to set this up as you have connected the room to an electricity source.

Mirrors are essential for wedding loos so make sure you offer the largest possible plus a hand mirror so guests can check the back of their hair too.  With so many updos on the day that mirror will get lost of use.  But also think about offering hair products – to both the girls and the guys.

A box or basket of emergency items will probably get used at least once during the event.  If you’re looking for a ready-made list of what to include take a look at my article Mother of the Bride Emergency Kit and start collecting the items right now then adding to them as you notice special deals online.

Finally, fun or cute sign posts should be placed at strategic points of the garden or grounds so that people don’t have to ask where the loos are.

Just a note – if you are using the portable toilets for much more than three hours it’s probably wise to ask someone to take a look in at how the facilities are faring as the day wears on.  It’s not the coolest job but you could pay a neighbour’s teen to do this – just tell them exactly what will need doing including clearing bins, checking on supplies and refilling soap dispensers etc.  And specify how often they need to do the check.  Some luxury rentals provide this service but a reliable teen may be more cost effective.

For a list of all the aspects of planning you need to cover if you organise a home or backyard wedding see my article on the 20 questions to answer.