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Renting vs Buying Decor, a pros and cons list

Any type of party that uses decorations, especially a big one for over 100 people like your wedding, will require either renting or purchasing of the design elements. For a wedding, the decor items that will either be rented or purchased could be the table linens, napkins, chargers, plates, glassware, table numbers, candles, flowers, arbors, chuppahs, vases, signage, tables, chairs, lounge furniture, lighting, and coordinating props. Whew, that’s a lot of stuff.

Typically, you will be renting all of those items. You’ll rent the vases from your florist who will fill them with flowers and then take them back at the end of the night. You’ll also rent all of the candles from your florist too. Your caterer will rent all of the plates, glassware, linens, and anything they need for service from a local rental company. The chairs are rented. Sometimes the tables are rented if your venue doesn’t keep a stock of tables.

That being said….when you see the prices of renting all of this stuff, you might consider purchasing it yourself instead. For example, a satin taffeta table linen could rent for $40 each, yet you could purchase one from an online retailer for $25 each. A savings of $15. The question is: is that $15 savings worth it??

Purchased decor is your responsibility as the client. You’ll need to store it all at your home, schlep it to the venue, set it up, and break it down. Do you want twenty, smelly, beer stained table linens sitting in a pile at your home after your wedding? Maybe not. When you rent the linens, the caterer or designer will set them up for you, steam them, and send them back after the event. Lots of less work for you!

Let’s work through your options of renting vs buying decor with a fun little pros and cons list.

Renting

Pros:

  • Less work for you.
  • Less stuff taking up space in your house.
  • You don’t have to schlep a lot of things to and from the venue.
  • Nothing for you to set-up or breakdown at the end of the night.

Cons:

  • Might be more expensive than purchasing yourself, especially with hefty delivery and trucking fees from rental companies.
  • Depending on where you live, you might have a limited selection of items when you only have large rental companies nearby to rent from. Big urban cities will have more selection from a variety of boutique rental houses.
  • Specialty and one-off items, like furniture lounges, could need to be reserved months in advance before they sell out.

Buying

Pros:

  • You have the whole internet at your fingertips. You could source pretty much any decor item you’d ever want for your wedding, no matter where you live.
  • You can to keep it after the wedding (also a con, see below). Smaller items become instant heirlooms that can be passed down to generations (like how I turned the vintage tablecloths from my wedding into a baby quilt for my son.) I also still use the milk glass containers that we used for our candy buffet. It’s nice to say, ten years later, “hey, that was at our wedding.”
  • The possibility to resell it after the wedding. Make some of your money back if you put in the effort to resell.
  • I assure you that you’ll be able to find a lot of decor items are cheaper to buy than to rent.

Cons:

  • You’ll have to store it all at your home before and after the wedding. Do you have space for all this stuff?
  • Who is going to set it up and break it down?
  • Many vendors, like florists, will not use the vases you’ve purchased or the candles you’ve ordered. For one, it cuts into our profit margin, and two, we shouldn’t set anything up that isn’t in our contract due to insurance reasons. (for example, you buy the cheapest candles you can find and they melt super fast and light the table numbers on fire. The candles you would have rented from us where twice the price, but we know that they are high quality and will last your whole reception.)
  • Purchasing a lot of decor gets overwhelming, unless you are super duper organized. PS….download the Weddings Well Designed Toolbox to help you organize all your decor, in case you absolutely have to purchase a lot yourself for your wedding.

Are you buying or purchasing decor for your wedding? I’m curious to know!

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How to Save Money on Wedding Flowers / a quick guide

The worst feeling is when you start to shop for something, say wedding flowers, and immediately feel your throat tighten up when you see that they cost a lot more than you anticipated. No one likes the feeling of sticker shock, but alas, floral decor for dinner parties of over 100 people adds up quick. I’m not here to defend the pricing ways of florists, that’s a way longer post for another day that includes mark-ups, paying staff, paying our bills, how flowers are imported, etc. Today, I’m giving you a down and dirty guide on how to save money on your wedding flowers.

There are a few tricks that I use with my clients to help them save money while still providing enough decor to fill their venues and giving the floral company (me) the correct profit margin. No one wants to say it, but yes, we make money on your wedding. That’s how I feed my kid. And pay my rent. And buy that fancy face oil. Talking about money is weird, and I get it that you might not have a gazillion dollars to spend on your wedding flowers. There are smart ways that you can lower your floral bill without compromising style or asking your florist to provide more than they are comfortable doing at a lower profit margin:

Do a mix of centerpieces

Decorate some tables with pricey tall centerpieces, some with lower floral centerpieces, and some tables simply with candles. This strategy always lowers the flower bill at least a few hundred bucks, if not more, and keeps the same aesthetic as if every single table was dripping with flowers.

Cut unnecessary floral items

Tough talk time: saving money often means that you can’t have everything you want. Cut floral items out of the “must haves” list to save some dough. Your wedding will not miss any of these items:

Boutonnieres: I’m starting with a controversial one. The majority of weddings that I’ve designed that have a groom, they could care less about boutonnieres. All of your guests will know who the groom is, and who the dads are, and who your VIPs are, without a spray rose pinned onto their lapel.

Bathroom flowers: Sure, they are nice, but not needed.

Cocktail hour table flowers: Use a bunch of candles here instead.

Bar flowers: This one is venue dependent. Huge bars with tons of surface space under high ceilings could use a focal point of some pretty flowers. Smaller bars, movable bars, or bars where the staff uses the top surface to store the glassware won’t have space for flowers. Double check with your venue that the bar has adequate space before adding bar flowers to your floral quote.

Trust the florist that you chose

Ask your florist what changes they can make to their quote to save a few bucks. It could be as easy as using carnations instead of spray roses or subbing in lisianthus for sweet pea. They could possibly use clear glass votives instead of special ordering mercury glass ones. Tell them that you trust their vision, their expertise, and their ideas to design you some pretty wedding flowers that fall within a budget you are comfortable with.

Put the fancy flowers where they count

There is a reason why you pinned certain images to your pinterest board: they have the most beautiful, interesting, flowers that you’ve ever seen. They don’t look like the regular flowers you normally see at the grocery store – they look special. They ARE special. And in the flower world, special = expensive. The frilly flowers are often grown in Japan or Holland, have the prettiest color variations in each bloom…and the price tag to go with them. We are often talking a price tag of $15+ per stem. Those can add up QUICKLY. But – you can still have them! Ask your florist to use the most expensive blooms where guests will be able to experience them the most. This is in the centerpieces and in your bridal bouquet. You could save thousands of dollars by using standard roses on your chuppah and garden roses in your centerpieces. The bridal bouquet can be accented with Japanese ranunculus and the bridesmaids bouquets use spray roses. Put your money in the pieces that will get the most eyes and photos. Sub cheaper blooms for everything else.

There you have it! A quick guide on how to save money on your wedding flowers. This post could easily be way, way longer, and one day I’ll write that one for you. For right now, the majority of you just want to hire a florist and save a few bucks doing it (while still respecting the florist’s time and profitability).

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How to Incorporate DIY Decor into a Luxury Wedding

Today we are talking about luxury weddings. The term “luxury” wedding kind of turns me off, although it’s industry speak for any wedding where the budget is over a certain amount. That amount doesn’t really matter, because it could get you everything you’ve wanted in one town and barely anything in NYC. I like to use the term “luxury” when speaking about weddings to describe an event that certain vendors were hired that are not a necessity. Specifically, for the case of this post, event designers and wedding planners. An event designer and a wedding planner are NOT necessities when planning your wedding – therefore, they could feel like a luxurious thing to spend money on. Sort of when I pay the extra $15 for a fancy gel nail design or buy the guacamole that’s pre-made in the store. Sure, I could have done my own nails or made my own guacamole, but I was being all luxury by paying someone else to do it.

So, going forward, a luxury wedding is, to me, a wedding where money was spent on a wedding planner who offers design and/or an event designer. But, you ask, “what if I still want to DIY some decor?”, “will I be able to craft my favors simply because I want to?”

Of course you can. DIY decor definitely has a place in a fully designed wedding. Here are my favorite places to infuse some of that crafty goodness in a luxury wedding:

The place cards. I love DIY place cards because they can be made ahead of time. They are the little name cards that assign a guest to their individual seat (not to be confused with escort cards, which assign a guest to a table). You don’t need to wait until your RSVPs come in to get started on these. So what if you make a few extra for people who decide not to come. I recommend looking into doing handwriting on ceramic tiles, die cut paper on a Cricut machine, or digitally printed folded cards.

The signage. Along with the place cards, signs can be made well in advance of your wedding. Stain a big piece of wood and paint a welcome message for your guests. Sew some felt letters onto canvas to make a whimsical banner. Design coordinating signs for the bar, print onto cardstock, and display in a pretty frame.

Favors. Often given to guests on the way out, your favors are a great place to get creative with your DIY skills. Even if that means simply wrapping up treats in pretty packaging, a DIY favor is a personalized way to extend your gratitude to all of your loved ones celebrating with you.

Anywhere else. Let your event designer and planner know if you have a special DIY skill that you want to use for the wedding. Great at graphic design? Love doing woodwork? Know how to calligraph? They can help you brainstorm ideas on where you can get creative for your wedding using the skills you already have. It doesn’t matter if you spend a million dollars on your wedding, the best wedding decor are the items that have sentimental value to you, and often those are DIY projects by you or a loved one.

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