Certain items are actually more affordable to purchase.
dylan nathan wedding reception candles
Credit: The Jacksons

It can be tempting to rent everything for your wedding, vut budget-conscious couples may want to consider purchasing a few items, wedding planners say. "The cost of event rentals can surprise couples as they plan for their day," says Lo McShay, founder of and planner at LoLo Event Design in Boston. That's because "rental companies need to keep a high volume in inventory, and account for the cleaning and maintenance of those items in their pricing," she explains. Those costs are then passed on to you. And while some items make sense to rent—such as tables, chairs, china, flatware, and glassware—you can save money, McShay says, by purchasing a few items strategically. Here are six items you might want to buy, not rent.

Candles and Candle Holders

Many couples add candles to their tables, and while they can add up to rent, they can be inexpensive to buy in bulk. Plus, you might "find more affordable and unique candle-holder options" when you buy rather than rent, says McShay. That being said, that cost savings can turn into a time-suck, warns Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events in San Francisco. "Keep in mind you'll have to prep all of the candles, which might mean removing packaging, bubble wrap, price tags, and more," she says. "And that also means at the end of the night, someone needs to wrap up all of those candles, too. A good compromise might be to buy interesting candles and holders for your head table or other key focal areas, like cocktail hour or around lounge furniture."

Table Number Holders

Nichols says table number holders available at rental companies are lack-luster at best—and it could be worth the cost to upgrade to a more imaginative option. (That's right: You might not save money on this purchase.) "Depending on your paper style and the overall look and feel for the wedding, I personally look for interesting place card holders available at popular retailers to use to hold table numbers," she says. "Etsy can also be a fun place to find something a little more interesting or different to display your table number signs."

Vintage Furniture

Plush furniture, such as sectionals, won't be cost-effective to buy. But statement pieces, like a vintage settee for your sweetheart table or a flower cart to display escort cards, can be purchased for less than you can rent them—if you've got the time to shop, says McShay. "As an added bonus you can personalize the piece and incorporate it into your home," she says.

Lounge Pillows

While furniture rental options tend to be robust, "rental companies' selection of lounge pillows can be sort of hit or miss, and some rental companies have really large pillows—which aren't conducive to a cozy lounge," says Nichols. These are reasons why it might be smart to buy your lounge pillows. "With online retailers and inexpensive-but-stylish stores [everywhere], it is easier than ever to find cute, well-priced throw pillows in your color scheme for your picture perfect wedding lounge," Nichols explains.

Cake Stand

Your caterer or venue will have the basics for displaying the items in your dessert bar, but if you "want something a little more creative, there are so many cake stands to choose from these days—both in terms of colors and style," points out Nichols. "If you love to bake, then you might consider buying a few to give your dessert table a more stylized look." And as a bonus, you will get to take those cake stands home to use for your own personal parties.

Passing Trays

If you're looking for ways to personalize your wedding—while potentially saving money—you might want to buy serving trays to be used for passed hors d'oeuvres and drinks, says McShay. "Check what your caterer has in their inventory and if it doesn't fit your design, go shopping for them," she says. "You typically won't need more than 10, and you can usually find something that works at most home stores. I've even DIYed our own using large picture frames I line with fabric to coordinate with your event look."


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