We had one main criteria in the buy versus rent debate: Cost. First we looked into how much it would cost to rent linens. We ignored for a moment that we'd have to pick up the linens ourselves if we wanted to avoid a surcharge for a Sunday rental or a special delivery fee for a Sunday as well as the additional fee for the 22 steps between the door of the venue and the reception hall (there's no elevator at our venue). To rent floor length linens, would run about $400 ($397.50 to be exact). Sticker shock. Okay what if we went with less formal linens, those that only come to your lap? To rent linens with a 15" (or 12") drop, it's slightly less expensive at about $300 ($307.50 to be exact). Maybe linens are really expensive - kinda like eco-friendly invitations and that's why the rental cost seems high?
Google Search immediately came to our rescue offering up a couple of online stores that sold linens in bulk (in order of cost): TablesclothFactory.com, LinenTablecloth.com, and CustomLinenService.com. NOTE: We ruled out eBay almost immediately - shipping was cost prohibitive and we weren't sure the Ivory colors we found would match. After looking at each online store, we were originally going to purchase a mix of floor length and lap length tablecloths. Thanks to a coupon via Twitter, we were able to get all floor length tablecloths (a length that's easier to share/resell as well).
Here's the cost breakdown across the three stores:
- TablesclothFactory.com was about the same price as renting. With a flat $6.95 shipping free, the cost with 9.75% tax for linens with uniform 15" drop was $300.58 (almost $7 less expensive than renting!).
- LinenTablecloth.com had two specials - free shipping in the US on orders $50 or more and a Twitter follower coupon good for 20% off the total order - a savings of almost $77. With the specials, we were able to get floor length tablecloths and 132 - 17" x 17" Cocktail Napkins for ... drum roll please... $311.09 - only $3.59 more expensive than renting a mix of 15" and 12" lap length linens and only $10.51 more expensive than purchasing a uniform 15" lap length linens from TablesclothFactory.com.
- CustomLinenService.com was a little more expensive (but not much) than renting. Without shipping, the cost with 8.25% tax for linens with uniform 15" drop was $359.53.
After our wedding we'll wash the linens and post for sale on Craigslist (at 76 pounds it seems like something someone might want to pick up locally rather than have shipped), BrideShare, or WeddingBee. Reselling or sharing our linens will further reduce the cost of our linens.