When planning a wedding, caterers will often encourage the couple to rent many of the necessary items such as plates, glassware, linens, etc (when the venue does not already provide them). They typically rent those items from a third-party rental company, pad the fee with a markup, and may even receive a kick-back from the rental agency. Still, many couples choose to go this route, believing that it is always cheaper to rent than to buy. This is simply not true! For a couple willing to do some legwork, it is often possible to purchase these items wholesale, secondhand, or on clearance, then resell them and recoup some of the cost. The cost (even ignoring any proceeds from selling them afterward) can sometimes be less than renting. Here are some examples from our own wedding:
Charger plates: Purchased secondhand for $1.50 each. Quoted $8.00 to rent similar item. Will sell them afterwards for $1.50 each. Total cost: FREE.
Satin table linens: Purchased secondhand for $400 (less than the previous bride paid for the fabric she used to make them). Quoted $600 to rent similar item. Will sell them afterwards for $400. Total cost: FREE.
Tall vases for centerpieces: Will purchase on sale for $8.00 each. Quoted $24 to rent similar item. Will sell them for $5.00 each afterwards. Total savings vs. renting: $45.
If you are planning to purchase items rather than rent them, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure you have room to store them until the big day. The savings might not be worth the hassle if you have to store boxes in your shower for 8 months! Second, make sure you have a way to transport them. These items can be bulky or heavy and might also be fragile. Finally, if you are planning to resell them, it’s not a good idea to advertise them for sale until after the big day. Things can be broken or lost, or even taken home by guests. It would be unfair to promise your leftovers to another bride and then end up with less than you expected.