Friday, September 27, 2013

Rent linens, dishes, flatware and glasses? Or purchase disposables? Read on for even more options


Today's topic from Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions

Should I rent linens, dishes, flatware and glasses, or purchase disposables?

This question arises as a result of two issues; financial considerations and aesthetics.

Financially it is more prudent to purchase disposables.
Aesthetically it is nicer to rent the real thing.

Which leads to the next question........

Is it possible to have an aesthetically pleasing table without spending a fortune?  Absolutely!  By combining some rental pieces with disposables you can achieve an atmosphere of formality suitable to your occasion, while not blowing the budget.
Cloth tablecloths will add the most formal tone to your function.  I have coordinated too many receptions to count and definitely feel that table clothes add color, texture and depth to the room that cannot be achieved in any other way.


And, now with the availability of gently used wedding items on line, you have more options. 

Visit, - select Reception in the drop down for Category and type in table - then compare the prices of gently used linens to rentals (don't forget to figure in the cost of having the items shipped to you)...and then factor in the amount your can recoup by reselling the linens after you use them.  There are also a wide variety of chair covers,  table overlays and runners available. 
Also check (select Catering Supplies and make sure to check out the vintage china for rent in the LA area) is another site with gently used wedding items.  And of course check eBay, Amazon and Craig's List for things you might be able to use.  Just pay close attention to where the seller is located.

One option to achieve a balance between formal and casual

Consider renting linens and flatware but purchase rigid plastic dinner plates and clear plastic glasses for drinks.  Set the tables with the linens and flatware.  The disposables will be placed at the bar and buffet and will not be noticeably different.  By the time the guests get to the tables with their full plates, the food and drink will disguise the disposables.

A second option

Rent linens, champagne flutes and wine glasses.  Place them on the tables with a favor for each guest.  Disposable plates and flatware can be placed on the buffet, again not detracting from the table.  By the time the guests sit down to eat they will not notice the disposables. 



                                                      Yes, these are disposable


There are a wide variety of on-line sources with wonderful selections of reasonably priced disposable linens, napkins, serving pieces, plates, glasses and flatware.
I like the variety of prices and colors available at; in addition to the fact that they sell in quantities to fit every need, they also provide a phone number and names for personal contact is you want to talk to someone. offers a great selection of colored paper or plastic tablecloths with coordinating serving pieces.  There are PC stores in cities all over the country, if there is one near you it is definitely worth a trip just to check out what is available. 
Of course the box stores also are a  good source for disposables but sometimes the quantities are excessive  and the design lacking.  Another source is restaurant supply stores that sell sundries.  These stores can also be an excellent source for bulk purchases of food products.   Look in your yellow pages and online to locate one in your area.

How much should I budget for renting dishes, flatware, glasses?

There are different levels of quality for rental dinnerware and flatware but the glasses seem to be fairly standardized.  The rental facilities in my area offer three levels of quality and I have used the medium range to price the reception with one hundred guests.  The cost for renting tablecloths, napkins, plates, dinner flatware, water glasses, champagne flutes, cake plates, cake forks and coffee cups was over $1,100.00.  This did not include chafing dishes or any serving dishes for the buffet.

The cost for purchasing disposables will run over $100.00; depending on how many serving dishes you order, the quality of items you order, etc.  Of course everything can go into the garbage, although many of the items are sturdy enough to wash and re-use.  If you decide to use disposables plates spend the extra money to purchase a sturdy plate; it will pay off in the long run.  Also, if you order online allow time before your event to sort and wrap the disposable flat will probably arrive in a box all mixed together. 

Besides cost, what is the most negative aspect of renting dishes, flatware, etc.?

Two factors affect dealing with rental goods.  They are more time consuming and awkward to deal with; due to the weight and the fact that everything is usually wrapped individually in plastic for protection.  So, allow more set-up time if you are using rentals because it takes time to get all that plastic off of everything.  The other issue is the fact that everything must be returned relatively clean.  That means all the food rinsed off.  And again, it takes time to rinse 100 dinner plates, 200 glasses and 300 pieces of flatware.  If you do use rental goods please watch my blog for future articles regarding hiring helpers for the day of your event.  When we have helped clients who rented dishes this has been the most arduous task....and everyone is already getting tired by the time the dished need to be packed up.  If the dishes are returned with any food particles on them the rental companies tend to add a fairly substantial surcharge to your bill.  And if anything is broken, you will purchase that item at a highly inflated price.


If I rent dishes, how many will I need?

What kind of serving pieces do I need?

Should we have rental goods delivered?


Tips from the Frugally Fabulous Kitchen 


1)  Several of the FF recipes use brown sugar.  If your brown sugar has turned into a block, use the following trick to soften the sugar.

Put the brown sugar on a glass pie plate or small bowl, place a small piece of waxed paper on the sugar, place a piece of bread on the waxed paper and then cover the container with plastic.  Microwave for approximately 30 seconds.  The sugar will be soft.  If you don't have any wax paper try with just the slice of bread.  I have even softened the sugar just using a medium heat setting on the microwave.  But it does work better with the bread, due to the extra moisture pulled from the bread.

2)  If you are serving a small bowl of dip on a platter with chips, or veggies, it can be secured so that it doesn't slide around.  Turn the bowl upside down and dab creamed honey on the bottom of the bowl.   Place the bowl right side up on the plate, fill with dip and arrange the food around it. 


 Planning a DIY wedding reception? 

Order your copy of Frugally Fabulous Wedding Receptions and have all the information you need at your fingertips.


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