rent or buy linens

Disclaimer:  There’s no wrong way to wedding.  Should you rent or buy linens?  Well, it’s up to you, of course!  In general, advice blogs from wedding pros that tell brides how they should “wedding” turn me off.  Take this as it is, an opinion from a former venue manager with no skin in the game.  Whether you rent or buy linens is 100% your call, but here’s how I would personally do it and why. 

This question came up in our SPRINGS Brides & Pros Facebook group.  Real brides and pros gave advice and we batted around opinions.

As an admin of the group at THE SPRINGS, I thought I’d weigh in, too.

Rent or Buy Linens?

If you thought this was going to be a PRO / CON list and we were going to debate the topic, I’m terribly sorry to disappoint.  

We’re not.  There’s few wedding things I feel more strongly about than linens.

Rent or Buy Linens

Why do I recommend renting linens instead of buying them?  

The short version: Sweat Equity & Laziness

“But they’re cheaper if I buy them!”  

Yes. Yes, they are.

Generally, basic poly-blend linens will run you $10-12 to rent and $6-8 online to buy.

You’ll never be able to rent linens cheaper than you can buy linens.

But here’s why renting is more expensive.  It’s not because the vendors who are renting them want to make a big ‘o profit off you.

Nope.

It’s because of all the work that goes into linens.

“We’ve been in the linen rental business for 12 years.  Poly-cotton is the most basic, most cost-effective material.  A linen professional should be able to provide a wide array of colors (we have 50 at $12/ each) as well as a wide selection of fabrics up to sequins, rosette, shantung, etc.  Linens should be professionally cleaned & pressed after every event and delivered on heavy-duty hangers and individually bagged.  Meet with your linen professional for a consultation to discuss linen options and check the quality of linens before you make the decision between renting or buying.”
-Yoli Roy, Fine Event Linens

rent or buy linens
Can you tell if this linen was purchased or rented? Nope.

Here’s why buying linens is not something I would choose.  

I fully admit that buying *might* be cheaper for the super-savvy that have time for all the shenanigans that come with buying, but in the long run, it’s just not for me.
In my experience, the total cost after all is said and done is about even and it comes out in the wash – I had to. (linen puns!)

And I may just be lazy, and I’m okay with that, too.

Step 1: Buying the Linens

If you buy used linens… maybe at a garage sale or from a former bride?

Laundry.  

There’s only one thing I hate more in this world than laundry.

And, that’s coat hangers.  (Those are coming.  Hang tight.)

If you buy linens online?

Quality uncertainty.  

Before you hit “confirm purchase”, you’ll want to read reviews and do your homework.

Buying things online can be risky.

And once Fed Ex has dropped them off, now you need to “uncrinkle” the box wrinkles.

“A linen company knows exactly what size linen you need for every type of table that you’ll have, they’ll be professionally washed and laundered, they’ll be able to help you select the right type of linen to achieve your specific look, and most of the time still be just as affordable as purchasing your own.

A basic polyester linen should rent between $10-12 a linen.”
-Mandy Blissit, Blume Haus Events

Rent or Buy LinensLets talk about “box wrinkles”

There’s a big difference between…

rent or buy linens

Sigh.  

I used to keep an iron and an ironing board in my office at the venue for this very reason.  

I also had a portable steamer.  

Box wrinkles make brides sad.

rent or buy linensBut, let’s get back to that box of inexpensive linens –

…now that the fed ex guy has delivered your linens to your home, it’s not over.

No, gentle bride, now there’s the ironing.  

Lots and lots of ironing.

And folding oddly shaped round items over a wire hanger. (grrr!)

Finding a place for storage: you now have 40-60 linens at your house.

Getting them to the venue…those goofy coat hangers again. They just never nest nicely.

And while they do make an impact on the room colors and feel of the event,
no guest ever got in their car after a wedding and said,
“Wow!  Did you see those linens??  OMG.  #BestWeddingEver!!”

But, I can sell my linens afterwards.

Yes, you can.

But, here’s a thought – why not buy items that are easier to sell (i.e. don’t require laundry & coat hangers?)

Like:  lanterns, centerpieces, cake toppers, vases, signs, frames… anything but linens!

  • Truth – Linens are the dirtiest part of the event.  
  • Think- cake, bbq stains, beer & wine, butter, mystery sauce, and candle wax

And at the end of the night, these mucky linens get thrown into a bag.

If you rent, you get to focus on happily ever after.  The linen pros will take that bag-o’ dirty linens & make ’em perfect for the next bride.  

Rent or Buy Linens

If you bought them, now you need to work some magic to make them “new” again to recoup those funds.  Taking them to a dry cleaner to get them in re-sell condition would defeat the whole purpose of saving – those pro laundering services would run you well over the initial $6 from buying online and take you to linen rental prices in the first place.

You or mom need to get thee to a washing machine, stat.

And it must be done quickly… leftover linens put the ‘ew’ in mildEW!!

“To resell them, you have to get them cleaned and that costs about $8 each at the cleaners.  A big part of our business is doing our own tablecloth laundry and laundry for about 50 other companies in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. When someone in the laundry business (dry cleaners, etc.) finds out we ONLY do tablecloths they crack up laughing and then express their condolences. ”
-April Hamm, AM Linen Rental

Want to sell them?

Wash ’em

Like, serious washing- the next bride wants them to be just as perfect as you did.  

Ironing

Folding

Hanging

Those dad-gum coat hangers!!

Storage

And now you’re in the linen business, ’cause you need to find yourself a buyer.

The perfect buyer – you will want to sell them in a set, of course, instead of piecing together special orders.  

And, you’ll want to find a local buyer; otherwise, you’ll have shipping costs to add to your list.  

And remember, she wants a deal just like you did.

So, all that work you just put into them?  

You’ll be hard pressed to recover that sweat equity, because she wants to pay $6, too.

Otherwise, why not just rent them for $10-12?

Nah, I’ll just pay the extra $4 per linen and rent.

Happy Wedding!

Thank you to all of the wedding professionals who helped with this article.  Your love for weddings and ability to put up with coat hangers every day is admirable!  I appreciate your advice and willingness to let me quote you here!

Yoli Roy – Fine Event Linens
Mandy Blissit – Blume Haus Events
April Hamm – AM Linen Rental

THE SPRINGS Event Venues' contact information

Written by Audrey Nelson

Audrey Nelson

Audrey is our VP of Marketing at THE SPRINGS. She was formerly the Venue Manager at THE SPRINGS in New Braunfels and has hosted hundreds of weddings.

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