Wedding Planning for the Sustainable Couple: Lesson #2 - Decor and Rentals

I decided to break up the blog posts by lessons since I knew I had a lot to say and nowadays, attention spans can be very short. So thank you for taking the time to read this OR maybe... your welcome for helping you plan your sustainable wedding. ;)

Not sure if you knew this, but before The Consistency Project, I was pretty much a full time event planning/ project manager. Events were kinda a thing for me and to be completely transparent, still a thing for me on the side. What can I say, you gotta hustle as a female entrepreneur.

So it was only natural for me to plan my own wedding. How hard could it be right? Logistics are my strength!

Well... Lets just say planning a wedding, let alone your own is COMPLETELY different than just planning a corporate event, party or even another wedding.

Let the lessons continue.

Photo by  Praise Santos

Photo by Praise Santos

Lesson #2:

Sourcing your own decor may be budget friendly and sustainable (if secondhand), but renting should be highly considered.

For most couples planning a wedding, I think the problem with rentals tend to be:

1. They can be way too expensive. It is much cheaper to source and purchase yourself.

2. The aesthetic may not be exactly what you're looking for. Most rental companies are either super generic or they're super niche like rustic, boho chic or ethereal. And sometimes you're like me where things are extra difficult since you avoid fitting into any niche as much as possible. 

But know this. Renting is actually one of the most sustainable options out there. These rentals get to be re-used many many times & taken care of to last.

I personally jumped right into the planning assuming I'd source as many vintage or secondhand items as possible because after looking at the options in Hawaii for rentals, I wasn't quite finding what I was looking for. And for those that had rentals that could work, they were either unresponsive or couldn't rent to me due to the location of my wedding. 

But midway through planning, I was realized sourcing items that was vintage or secondhand for a destination wedding was posing to be pretty difficult. Was it really going to cost efficient? Would a bunch of one off vintage/ secondhand decor come together and feel cohesive? What does transporting all this stuff to Hawaii look like? Did I have to settle with what rentals were available? 

I started to revaluate what was important to be sourced myself vs. what could essentially just be rented. Purchasing anything new was not an option. Especially for anything that was for a one-time use.


So let me review some major areas for sourcing and rentals.

Glassware:

I knew I wanted to have vintage glassware at the wedding and I decided to source them all myself. Thrift stores, estate sales, Tradesy. You name it. It always had to be top of mind because you never knew when you'd come across an amazing vintage glassware set.

I already had a small collection so it helped justify this task, but boy oh boy did I add a lot of time to the planning. I was fortunate enough to be in Hawaii a couple of times before the wedding so made sure to do some sourcing locally. But needless to say, it took a lot of time and coordination on getting over 70 pieces of glassware to Hawaii. Pawning them off on anyone going down there. Lugging them there myself. They made it with some wounded soldiers on the way.

Now keep in mind that a wedding doesn't just require one glassware per person. You're thinking at least 3-4 depending on what your guest is drinking throughout the day & how good they are at using the same glassware throughout each portion of the wedding. Most times there isn't a dishwasher standing by to clean glasses as they are used so you end up having to rent or source at least triple your guest count.

I knew the vintage glassware couldn't be on the dance floor or roaming around from location to location as the wedding moved, so they were strictly for dinner table drinks. I still had to rent a bunch of glassware for the cocktail hour, water glasses for dinner, and glassware for the reception party.

So if you think about it, renting additional glassware meant 2 things:

1. Guests were able to have more than one type of drinks (ie. Water + Wine).

2. I didn't have to worry about taking home additional glassware (past the vintage ones) since the rental company would pick them up! Many people forget that when you provide something, you have to take it home the night of as well (dirty most times). And trust me this is the last thing you want to do. (More on this later...)

In the end, the guest just cares that they have a clean glass to drink out of. So looking back now, the vintage glassware was amazing for photos and shared a personal touch to the dinner tables, but I felt like not everyone used them. And if someone did use them, they loved it so much that they took it home! When it came down to it, I chose my battles and wanted the vintage glassware even though the cost in time was more than maybe the reward, and also maybe not as sustainable as renting, but you can pick your own battles as well.

Moral of this section? I have no regrets on sourcing my own vintage glassware but know this. There was a clear advantage to renting. It is normally 1000% easier to let another company handle logistics of delivery, pickup and cleaning. It also makes sense to rent things that are really for function. For example, simple clear, clean glassware.

Linens:

I ended up doing the same thing with linens. I sourced some and rented some. 

The ones I sourced were vintage napkins. I found cotton/natural fiber napkins and hand dyed them to a nice pale grey blue color. Originally I wanted them to be a deep dark grey blue color, but that's the risk you take when you're doing it yourself. 

Benefit to this was the beautiful uniqueness of each napkin and the ability to take unwanted used linens and make them new again. I was honestly very excited to add this personal touch to the dinner table. Although this saved me some money, these were quite time consuming.

Same benefits of renting vs. BYO. When you rent linens, the company takes care of the delivery, pick up and most importantly washing. Linens are one of the more expensive things to rent due to the nature of their function (ie. they can get stains easily from normal use) and they are heavy, amounting to lots and lots of fabrics. Oh and washing them... Just trust me, you'll want to rent them even with the higher price tag. It is worth it and sustainable. 

As tempting as buying your own linens are... 1. You won't know what to do with them later. Re-selling can be tough because you'll have to wash them/clean them for someone else. 2. You'll want to get rid of them immediately and the planet and natural resources used to make those linens for one time use shouldn't have to be wasted due to laziness.

In addition to glassware and linens, I did rent a lot of other things which looking back, I'm glad I did. 

The night of the wedding, Dylan and I, along with some of our amazing friends and family members, were packing up stuff and organizing what we needed to take home. Who could transport what, etc. Even the days after it was spend organizing everything and cleaning everything. Not the most ideal things to be worrying about after your just had the best day ever.


Here's some insight on what we rented vs. brought ourselves. This is in no way to say this was the best route to go, but I wanted to show you the areas of personal touches you can add to, as well as show how much we rented which saved so much time and stress.

Some things we brought ourselves & the post work needed:

  • Vintage Glassware - needed to be cleaned & to figure out storage/resell option

  • Hand dyed Linen Napkins - needed to be cleaned or recycled

  • Secondhand Gold Flatware - needed to be cleaned & to figure out storage/resell option

  • Secondhand Gold Table Numbers - needed to be resold

  • Secondhand Frames used for Signage - needed to recycle the paper

  • Candy/Snacks in Bulk in Candy Jars - needed to be eaten/finished then cleaned

  • Decorated Baking Trays for Desserts - needed to be cleaned

  • Disco Ball (why isn't this rentable?!) - needed to be resold

  • Beer Growlers in order to use a keg vs. individual bottles(why isn't this rentable?!) - needed to be resold

  • DIY Natural Bug Spray (we just made two larger communal bottles vs. individual ones) - needed to be saved

  • Card Box (we used a vintage magazine rack!) - needed to be saved or resold

  • Glass Water Carafes (we used recycled wine bottles) - needed to be cleaned or recycled

You get the idea... Whatever you provide and bring yourself, requires time and effort to get it back home with you or ready to be resold. Are you ready for that time and work?

Some things we rented & didn't require any time or extra work except paying the extra $$$:

  • Linens

  • Plates

  • Additional Glassware

  • Side Table

  • Drink Dispensers

  • Galvanized Tub for Drinks

  • Larger Tables

  • Benches/ Chairs

  • Coolers

  • Lighting (Tip: Optimize for more lighting than less!! Light up the desert, light up the stage. People need to see!)


In conclusion, you want to definitely think about what is priority for you in regards to what personal touches you want to add, make or bring.

The second thing to take away from rentals is budgeting. For your wedding in general, it is all about budgeting. You spend less in a different area to compensate for other areas that could alleviate time and stress. Rentals may be an area you want to spend more on.

But more on budgeting next time.

Thanks for reading!

- Natasha