Flowing, colorful, contrasting linen table cloths, shiny satin toppers, chair covers and sashes… nothing sets off a wedding banquet more than this combination.
These rather basic pieces of fabric really change a dull reception into a CELEBRATION!!!
When you first choose a venue, you may be shocked by the price quoted for linens. Linen charges alone typically add hundreds of dollars to the price of the reception. But before you think that the banquet facility is ripping you off, let me explain.
The rental fees a venue receives for linens do provide some income to the venue. But, setting up the linens, steaming and ironing the linens and chair covers and tying the sashes is very labor intensive. Depending upon how many guests are invited, it can take two people 4-8 hours to perform the necessary steps! Also, cleaning linens is very expensive. So, the actual profit is minimal when you consider the purchase price, storage, inventory management, maintenance, cleaning, wastage from guests’ accidentally writing on them with an indelible marker, stains that defy removal, etc.
You will certainly entertain the thought that you can save some precious dollars using a DIY approach. But before you listen to some of the so-called experts, listen to a few stories!
One recent bride rented her linens from an internet linen-rental site. Beware! I want to warn you that the amount saved is not what it may seem like. Most of the venue’s “linen charge” goes to the labor of “set up and clean up”. Many venues will allow you to use your own linens but, if you want them on the tables and chairs with the sashes tied, and ironed and steamed to remove the inevitable wrinkles, they will insist on being reimbursed for the labor costs. And typically you are not going to be able to do the set up yourself as your day is already taken! Also, brides have told us after-the-fact that the internet rental companies charged extra for every drop of wax, every stain, every small defect… and the mailing fees were impressive! If you choose this route, read the “conditions” and your contract!
We have also had brides consider buying used linens over EBay. Great idea, but be prepared to be disappointed. It is unlikely you will be able to purchase exactly the number and size of linens the venue needs for the tables they have. Most venues have several sizes of tables that “fit” their space. They obviously take a specific size of table cover. Typically a previous user who wants to get rid of the linens they used for their wedding sells the linens as a “lot”. You will also be hard pressed to find the colors of toppers and sashes you wish to use for your wedding in the correct size and number.
Another issue is the quality of the linens. I will venture to say that most venues do not purchase linens without first purchasing a sampling of the offerings. We have found a wide variety in quality and price… usually in the same proportion!
The story goes: You can purchase linens for about the same price as the rental fee and you can then sell them on EBay and make much of your investment back. But, again, buyer beware! You may be bidding on linens that look “used” once you open the package. And remember that the bride who just used them may have been a budget minded bride who bought cheap pieces thinking they were fine. But after laundry, they do not look “fine”. Also, you will need to have them ironed, steamed and set up, or pay someone to do it for you. Then after the wedding you will need to have them transported home, laundered, put back on EBay and… who knows what price you will get. Altogether, perhaps not the best way to save a few dollars.
In addition, if your venue allows you to provide your own linens, make sure you remove them at the end of the reception. A venue cannot store them for you. They are typically wet and covered with food smears, both of which can cause mold, insects and odors. If you leave them and do not return the next business day, they may be tempted to place them outside!
One bride recently reported to us that she bought new linens from a “cheapolinens.com” type site. They were not what she expected. Also, she changed the number of tables and chairs she needed at the last minute and the venue had to pull out their linens to augment her deficiency. The colors were just a bit different, the material was slightly different and the feel was definitely different. the venue rescued her by providing theirs but it is likely that the guests felt that the venue just put out mismatched linens!
So, before you make any decisions, talk the venue. Work with them before you attempt to use “your” linens, your savings may be minimal or non-existent… and your wedding may be more stressful and more memorable, in a different kind of way!