Collecting Vintage vs Renting Vintage for Your Wedding

Thursday, May 7, 2020 1:39 PM

You are creative.  You love vintage.  You love finding treasures and repurposing relics.  Then why should you rent vintage dishes when you are perfectly able to hit the thrift stores and garage sales on your own?  Why pay for something that you can do yourself? Here are a few things to consider...

Your Time

Hunting treasure is fun!  You'll get no argument from me. My favorite afternoons are spent losing myself for hours in thrift stores.  Just because you are renting your plates and flatware, it doesn't mean that you can't be on the hunt for a piece that you can use and then treasure.  (I had a bride that found her own cake plate and cake serving set to keep.)  So, I am in no way suggesting that you leave it all up to vintage companies if thrifting is something you enjoy.  But consider that when that engagement ring appeared, you inherited a part-time job.   If you are a DIY couple or even a creative spirit working with professionals, there are so many details that take time to coordinate.  And it's a handful to shuffle relatives and friends and fittings, while still maintaining the most important part of all - your relationship with the person to which you are joining your life.  And let's not forget that you need to rest! So even though your Saturday mornings seem to be free for yard sales, you might want to keep sleeping in as an option.


The thrill is in the find primarily because you cannot predict what will be sitting at a yard sale or on a thrift store shelf next week.  But that means that the ideal collection often takes many years to amass.  And there is a learning curve to picking up the right pieces.  I confess that the first items I picked up have been discarded from my inventory.  I confess that it took me a few bad purchases to distinguish cheap mass produced restaurant china with florals from true vintage treasures.  And if you are on a time schedule, it will be easy to settle for the not-so-great pieces.  Not to mention that you cannot predict which items will even show up for you during your shopping season.  The last thing you want is to be stressed about trying to find the last 20 salad plates one week before the wedding.


Your Aunt Grace says you can use her 30 place-setting Lenox.  I love this.  How great to put her treasures to use!  The one thing to consider is how you will feel if a piece is broken.   Will you feel her watchful eye when your tipsy friend decides to mingle around the room with her cake plate balanced on her palm? We have an inexpensive inventory protection plan that covers breakage.  For me a broken glass is a part of business.  My family heirlooms stay safe at home and the pieces I rent are getting a second life. If something is chipped or shattered, no one has hurt feelings.  

My husband calls it "dish creep", the phenomena of dishes taking over every horizontal space in our home.  When I began my business, I had dishes in every room in the house.  "Move your chair out a little, Mom.  I think I can put a shelving unit on the floor behind it!."  Thankfully I now have a beautiful studio to display and store my pretties.  With no storage plan in place, know that stacked boxes and filled tables can be troublesome. Even though they want to support your idea, your housemates will may want to scream as dishes are overtaking the landscape.

preparation and execution

If the dishes you collect are truly vintage, chances are they are not dishwasher safe.  Metal embellishments such as gold rims have to be hand washed.  And the first cleaning is often laborious.  For example, the unglazed rims at the bottoms of plates often need a scrubbing with a toothbrush.  So now that they are clean, they need to be packed and stored to remain sanitary.  Dirty newspaper is no longer an option at this point (gross). And they will need to be transported safely to your venue.  Do you have someone that is willing to take responsibility to transport and unpack the dishes?  Who will set your tables?   Will they then repack the dirty dishes?   And who will transport, wash and store the dishes while you are on your honeymoon?  You may have a great group of friends and family, but again, this will take time and energy to coordinate. Knowing the amount of work that goes into a single event, these considerations alone make it worth renting.  And I didn't even mention washing and ironing vintage linens!

now what?

What are you going to do with 150 dinner plates after the wedding is over? Dirty Dishes was conceptualized when I was looking at a national wedding blog post. A bride was trying to sell the vintage glass plates she collected for her wedding in South Carolina.    And I know of other vintage rental companies were born when brides took a look around after the wedding and didn't want to get rid of all the treasures that they spent months collecting for their big day.  Not everyone is in a position to start a vintage rental company.  And if you plan to sell them in one lot, you may be limited to someone in your area as bulk china is very expensive to pack and ship.  Alternately, if you package and ship individual sets or pieces, your time will be invested in photographing, describing, washing, packing and shipping - a process I have learned can be very time consuming from the days I operated an Etsy shop.


The choice is up to you.  But I hope that now you are able to make that choice with a clear view of what is involved.  And if renting seems to be the best answer, I am happy to do what I do!