In defense of using thrift store dishes & silverware at your wedding #Food Porn#catering#diy wedding April 1 | Guest post by Cassie Those of you who've read the Offbeat Bride book know that Ariel's guests drank out of "Muglies," used mugs from second hand stores that we then decorated with wedding stickers. For those of you who are considering going a similar second-hand route for your wedding flatware, Cassie here offers some encouragement… Photo by Ruby Sky Photography I just want to say that I am having an absolute blast finding awesome, unique, and totally, insanely cheap dishes and silverware for our wedding. Related Post Serve your beverages in mismatched ugly mugs: Muglies! This will look familiar to those of you who've read my book — one offbeat bride borrowed my Muglies idea for her recent wedding, complete... Read more Last weekend I went to a thrift store and got 40 pieces of silverware (in good condition), 10 wine glasses, and about 5 coffee cups (all attractive, in very good shape) for freaking FOUR DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS. I actually cackled on the way back to my car. Every time I make a purchase like this, I take the stuff home, wash it by hand, and then wash it in the dishwasher, too. Then I wrap it in clean towels or clean "batting" stuff, pack it away in a box and carefully label what exactly is in there. I originally thought all of this would be way too much of a hassle, but I love it. Since my wedding is still seven months out, I have plenty of time and don't feel rushed. I also thought that it would be a pain carting everything to the reception site. But you know what? If I rented stuff, I'd have to drive 25 minutes to the rental place, pick it up, and then drive it to the reception site. And then take it back the day after. So this will actually save me time when the wedding comes. I just wanted to post a quick pep talk for people who might be considering second hand dishes and/or silverware but are feeling unsure. My wedding has taught me that, as with many things, if you take the time and energy to really search and put effort in, you end up with way, way cheaper and — more importantly — more interesting results. And the fact that I'm having a blast in the process doesn't hurt. If you'd view this kind of thrift store hunting as a chore, then obviously don't do it! But if you're like me, then I suggest you give it a shot. Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Cassie PREVIOUS Sarah & Richard's Pirates of the Carribean Wedding NEXT Jess & Aaron's Funtastic Outdoor Zoo Wedding Show/Hide comments [ 83 ] I too am getting thrift store plates for my wedding! We're having a pretty small wedding (only 22 people in total) so it's not so bad..so far I've gotten 18 big plates and 22 appetizer plates, and we have 6 weeks to the wedding (I plan to make another trip later this week). We are using plastic silverware and cups probably..still debating whether to get paper plates or real plates for dessert. Another great things that most thrift stores have are mason jars, which make great candle holders for centerpieces- I put some ribbon around the rim and am holding candles in place with river rocks I picked up at a crafty store. http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/2009/03/centerpeices.html 1 agrees Reply Good for you! I love this thrifty, creative, eco-friendly, supporting-charitable-organizations way to subvert the WIC! Hurrah! Reply I've been buying vintage bone china, silver and crystal to use at our wedding. Our guests will be taking demitasse saucers home as keepsakes and are more than welcome to take the china they used for their meal as well. There will be both a tattoo artist and tarot reader/shaman during our reception. It's these little bits that make a celebration memorable. 10 agree Reply tattoo artist AND tarot reader… OMG!!! genius!!! i miiiight have to steal these ideas from you!! xo Reply my mom and i have been hunting down some amazing stuff for my "mexican fiesta lawn game" wedding.. i have at least 50 vases and ive spray painted half of them doing the mercury glass DIY i found on pintrest… then squirting some hot pink and hot orange inside of the vase (fake flowers from michaels for 80% off is what im using.. dont want to kill that many real ones! so the spray paint wont kill them!) and i have some of the most badass vases for my centerpieces EVER!!! Other random finds have been a giant tacky fake wedding cake that is a card holder (word!) i will also be spray painting and decorating that to make it tackier and more mexican fiesta-y! tons of christmas lights… lanterns… i dont even know, i have to go look in the "wedding closet" at my moms, she finds SO MUCH! oh, PINATAS! …so we have been having a BLAST calling each other constantly updating each other on our finds at yard sales, thrift stores… and wait for it… im really sorry in advance because i know a lot of you will be jealous… my fiance's parents own a freakin awesome flea market! AND everyone there knows who i am, and loves my in-laws… and want to give me things either free or super cheap because they know ill tell the in-laws they hooked me up (whatever, a deal is a deal!) … we had to postpone our wedding because the flea market actually had a huge fire a few months back, so this isnt the year for the wedding… but it just gives me longer to search for all of my awesome wedding finds… im almost glad its postponed, i didnt realize how much i loved hunting this stuff down… now i can do it an extra year!! good luck finding all of your sweet finds! i loved reading what everyone has found! 1 agrees Reply this is amazing. i love this! 1 agrees Reply I am SO emailing this to my mom and my fiance, who think I'm insane for wanting to do this!! 1 agrees Reply That's adorable! I love that look! Reply We used thrift store / garage sale flatware and muglies at our wedding. It was inexpensive, typically benefitted a good cause (the thrift store), environmentally friendly, and when we were done with it, It was perfect for us. 1 agrees Reply Who washed the dishes after the evening? We are going totally DIY and I would like to minimize/eliminate any work to be done that night. Your thought and experience is greatly appreciated! 8 agree Reply My grandmother was a wedding planner, when one of my cousins got married we managed to find all the dishes we needed (for her 150+) in one day – by going to the six different thift shops in town, one flea market and four garage sales. It was a long day. No one thought about the dish washing in advance (our bad) – but two days before the wedding it dawned on them that we weren't prepared to wash that many dishes. Their answer was a bit unique so it might not work for everyone – but I come from a large family, and the reception was supposed to be 16+ – they offered three of our younger cousins (12+) that they could come – as long as they did dishes. They paid them a small fee for this, (I think 10$ each) and they could collect tips from a tip jar. The tip jar went REALLY well – with the guests all throwing in a few dollars once they realized that the girls were stuck doing dishes. The best part, they did the dishes in shifts so that they could still go and spend time doing the reception activities. There were no complaints, and even with paying the four of them 10$ each – it still cost less than if they were to rent those dishes (and many rental places want you to clean them before returning them anyways). At another wedding I attended (my grandma was the planner) – it was out in the middle of nowhere, so my grandma brought dish soap and four huge blue totes – and guests washed their own dishes. This was mandatory, because each guest got one plate, fork, knife, spoon and glass when they showed up – and they were responsible for washing their own dishes between dinner and dessert. It fit well for that wedding, because it was a rustic, DIY style theme – and my grandma set up some soap/bubble related games at the station. She found a recipe to make colored bubbles for the dish washing pits – so two of the wash bins were done in the wedding colors, and the other two were for rinsing. I don't know if any of that helps, but that's how I've seen it done in the past. Reply I'm contemplating doing this. How big was your wedding? What did you do with the dishes after they were used at the event? We're planning on around 100 ppl, doing a buffet style, but not sure what to do with the "dirties"? I'd appreciate any tips you might have. 1 agrees Reply Hell yes! I think a great thrift store find is the modern equivalent of the "hunt"… it fulfills some deep primal urge – and nothing makes me giddier Another note to the "thrift store dishes at your wedding" nay-sayers, the mix-and-match vintage look is so totally IN according the wedding style gurus. So while the box brides are paying out the nose to have that look, a resourceful offbeat bride can get hers for pennies! 5 agree Reply I think it's a great idea! I got all my centerpiece decor at thrift stores, over the last 12 months. I chose not to do the dishes b/c our wedding was quickly approaching 140 peeps and carrying, washing, storing them was too much for me (and ended up not saving much money – other than I could have resold them). I agree, though, MAKE IT FUN! If you think of it as another thing on your "To Do" list – skip it. But if it's crafty and a fun adventure – it's the LOVE that will make your wedding memorable. Reply What did you decide to do for your centerpieces? I want to, but can't find a look/ideas online that I like that is still fairly cohesive. Any ideas would be great! Reply I took the laurel leaves right out of my backyard and spray painted them with stencils and a variety of finishes. I also bought bulk feathers on line to include (I'm doing a Great Gatsby Cocktail themed wedding and feathers were very popular in 20's decor). They turned out absolutely awesome and with teh exception of the vases that I bought (gold mosaic) and plan to sell afterwards, I only spent about $8 each on my center pieces. Plus it was really fun. Reply What did you decide to do for your centerpieces? I want to, but can't find a look/ideas online that I like that is still fairly cohesive. Any ideas would be great! Reply Where are these thrift stores that give such ridiculously good deals? All the ones around here are much more expensive… 1 agrees Reply I agree … the traditional thrift stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army) seem to be getting more expensive. My best luck seems to be at garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets, but only if the people selling them are unaware of how desirable the vintage/mismatched look is these days! Reply Many thrift stores have a 1/2 price day at least monthly or sale days on certain items throughout the week. Call around and see if this is the case in your area. Otherwise try heading out of your area. Lower cost-of-living = cheaper thrift stores. I live in a pretty low cost of living area with cheap thrift stores, about an hour away there are really nice (and expensive) thrift stores, but they all have sale days. Reply Don't forget that if you re-donate the dishes, you get a tax benefit for the donation to a charitable organization. Money to the organization from the purchase, dishes back to the organization for others, and a tax benefit for you — so much better than paying for rentals and the ultimate in eco-friendly re-use. 5 agree Reply That's a great idea. I've seen so many cute vintage plates at thrift stores in my area. Reply We must all have the same things on the brain – cheap! upcycled! – because I too thought of this idea a couple of days ago! I really like the idea of donating what you don't keep – that's the ultimate in good karma points. Great to see other peeps so into alternatives to "china service" (What is that, anyway? Is it actually real china, or just cheap chinette?) Reply Ha!! We are doing the same thing! That's great! Reply hahaha this is too funny! i just went today and picked up 101 plates for $26!! i'd been going back and forth debating weather to do it. mis matched china was the ONLY thing i was really excited about, but thought $$$$ might get in the way. 101 plates found….i only need 99 more! Reply Your wedding wouldn't happen to be over would it? Or on the East coast? I am desperately searching for someone who scored big on something like this, for me to get some help collecting the number I need. Reply Where does the term muglie come from? Reply Vera, "Muglies" is a portmanteau word that I made up to describe the ugly mugs that we were using at our wedding. Ugly + Mugs = Muglies. If you want to know the full story, it's in the book. Reply I gave vintage tea cups with a 2oz decorated bag of loose tea, all wrapped in tulle with a satin bow as my "tea party" wedding favors. It brought down the house! It was beautiful, unique, memorable; best of all it was cheap! 1 agrees Reply Kelly! Where did you find the vintage tea cups? Reply I want to do this but I've been having a hard time finding them too! Reply I've bought some dishes at yard sales…great stuff…for next to nothing…I, too, am excited about having real plates…without the hefty price tag… Reply I would totally love to do this, but I fear – who will do the dishes after?! 4 agree Reply I've wondered this too! So far, my best solution is … well, just pitch in with family the day after and clean up together. We're just going to have cute buckets out for guests to toss their dirty things in as they're done (next to trash cans). 2 agree Reply How many guests are you guys having? I have been seriously considering this for our BBQ wedding (to avoid disposables. ugh, the waste!). But I have 250 guests. Is anything doing a wedding that big? I also have reservations about the glasses. Do people only use one during the whole reception? 1 agrees Reply I am in your same boat. I hope you find something. My wedding is coming up fast! (July 31st). I wish there was a link to a site that people posted their collections of plates. That would be SO great. I would drive a couple hours to pick up a nice lot of things. 1 agrees Reply There are eco-friendly disposables out there that don't cost an arm and a leg if real dishes don't end up working out for you. I'm getting mine from sustainableparty.com. 1 agrees Reply I too have been excited about the thriftstore thing, but have found that my local Value Village and Goodwill prices aren't better than rental prices, and I have been a bit daunted by getting enough plates for 80-90ish folks. So, I've decided to start with 3 things: small coffee cups, silverware, and mason jars for center pieces (which are all consistently priced below rental prices). Maybe when yardsale season is here I will feel up for giving plates and wine glasses a go. And if someone in the Seattle or Bellingham area was interested in combining efforts and using at each of our weddings, I'd be game (will have to post on Offbeat Bride Tribe). As for what to do with the plates afterwords, I read in Conscious Choice that a environmental org called Sustainable/Vashon has a "Trash-Free Bash Stash" of a bunch of mismatched dishware people can borrow. Brilliant! I was planning on seeing if my local GreenNeighborhood group would be interested a similar thing, and I could give it to them. 1 agrees Reply For those who mentioned prices, it's true not all thrift stores will give you a good deal. One of my local Goodwill stores prices every glass at a dollar, which is more expensive than rental prices. I happen to be lucky enough to live by a few independent thrift stores that are much cheaper. One of them does the "colored tag 1/2 off" sale, with a different color every day. Most of the coffee cups I buy are originally priced at about 30 cents, so they end up being 15 cents when I buy the right tag color. Another thrift store had a "spring cleaning" 75 percent off sale, which is where I got a lot of the stuff. But in general, these stores prices their wineglasses at about 40 cents, silverware at about a dime, and so on…so it's much cheaper. I haven't checked out garage sales yet, but I'm hoping that will be another way to rake in the inexpensive stuff. And there you can haggle! We're going to have our wedding helpers rinse everything off at the end of the wedding. My FMIL volunteered to take about half the stuff home to wash (gradually) in her dishwasher, and I'll do the other half. We are going to redonate everything. Of course, guests are welcome to take home whatever they want. Also, FYI, I'm shooting for 60-70 people at my wedding. If I had over a 100 or 200 people, I don't think I'd be doing this. It all depends on what you think you can do. Reply Like Cassie said, keep an eye out for the special deals at the thrift stores. Goodwill here has a couple of days a week where the color tag of the week is on sale, but the better deal is at Savers, where 4 days a week the color tag is 50% off, and 1 day a week the color tag is 99 cents. 50% off days are perfect for glasses and single plates (normally $1), 99 cent days are perfect for tablecloths and sets of dishes. And yes, some of the independent thrift stores are cheaper. The thing I'm finding harder is silverware, as they wait until they have a big quantity of it and then sell a tray's worth all at once. I've only found those once so far and bought 5 trays of silverware. The cashiers think I'm nuts. Reply once you take it home and wash it, it's just like all the other stuff in your cupboards: used, but clean. I really dont understand the people who are so negative "how could you use USED stuff for your ______ (wedding, party, home, whatever)" ????? for me, I started going to the flea market with Mom when I was 7. it didnt take long to realize most of the things I like are not made anymore so thrift shops, yardsales, and fleamarkets are a resource to be treasured! I would like to add that if you are collecting such things, it is worth the time to send out a general email to friends and family because they might be ready to donate those extra plates or 3 wine glasses, to the local charity, and happy, or even happier! to give them to you. 2 agree Reply We're doing the same thing too. We'll have about 100 peeps. And yes, everyone looks at me a little sideways til I explain the triple goodness (no disposable waste, no brand-new/rental truck carbon footprint, and donate back to a good cause). Then I see the light dawning on their heads. As far as used, do people think that rented plates and silverware are only used once? Really the only *beauty* there is that it all matches. 5 agree Reply Don't forget thriftstores might also have great finds for the bachelorette party as well- our local Salvation Army gets all Target clearance items and discounts them even further, so I was able to get super cute party favors for my friend's wedding that were totally brand new. . . so tell your bridesmaids Reply We are doing the same…and I love hearing that others are doing it. It makes me feel like less of a freak when people give me funny looks!! :p Reply I wanted to do this with mugs for the coffee and mason jars (not nec. used; probably from a wholesaler) for drinks. My caterer, who I have to use for the food, has discouraged this idea however. He said it would make a mess, people may get too drunk and break things, and "who do you think is going to clean up the mess?" The more I think about it the more I think my caterer is kind of a jerk. 2 agree Reply We're doing this for 70! Honestly, if you got rental plates, someone would have to wash them, wouldn't they?? And I'm planning on donating ours to a soup kitchen afterwards. So far I haven't gathered nearly enough, but I'm working on it… bag sales, half off sales, garage sales, you name it, I'm there… scrounging the internet for them. If I buy in bulk from a wholesaler or from the local thrift store, doesn't matter, we're not renting! Of course, we have no caterer, just a motley band of line cooks and a dishwasher I work with… but they're awesome people and I'd love to have them at the party anyhow. 1 agrees Reply I hadn't even thought of donating to a soup kitchen. I think that's a wonderful idea, lots of places that could be donated to as my town has a halfway house, soup kitchen as well as churches that sponsor community meals. I hadn't thought of getting used plates at all, but I'm really loving this idea. Reply This has to be one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time. I'm impressed that Amelia is doing this for 70 people- but I can only imagine how colorful and wonderful it will be! Reply I just told my mom last week I wanted vintage plates for everyone! She jumped right on board – can you imagine how cool the set up will be with funky plates of different designs and colors? That's what our cupboard looks like now (I'm a sucker for a cool anniversary plate) so I'm just dreaming of it on a much larger scale. I guess that's why we peruse this sight though – anything too matchy matchy just doesn't have that offbeat vibe! Reply I love this idea. If I wasn't having my wedding 500 miles away, it'd be the way to go for me, cause hell, after you're done, anything left at the party is then used (at least it would be for me!) to revamp your kitchen! Reply I totally love all of the thrifting ideas! I am one of those crazy people who is doing all of the flowers for my wedding (hey, it was my job in high school, I can still do it now, right?) Instead of renting the vases from some other shop, I got them all in one trip to Goodwill for super cheap. For the many sweetheart friends and family members who helped put the while show on, they each get to take a couple home. They look lovely as centerpieces, then serve as sentimental gifts. Let's be honest, with the economy and environment in the shape they're in, thrifting couldn't be a better idea! 1 agrees Reply We did Muglies for our wedding and it was FANTASTIC. We used all sorts of interesting and eclectic glasses, mugs cups etc. Everyone loved it (a few of our close friends skipped the receiving line to run off to the reception to snag the "best" Muglies). If we had time we would have done plates and silverware too. It was a "little" pricey as we bought some stuff here in LA and had to ship it to Illinois where we were married. We also had some family scouting for us in Illinois too and that made it fun – a family affair. We did have some leftover – and now my husbands brother is doing it for his wedding and they are using those. If you have a larger wedding, you just need to get started a bit earlier or plan well. Muglies were one of the best parts of our wedding and if you can I highly suggest them. Thank you Ariel for sharing this idea!! Reply I just started thrifting for vases yesterday, to "go with" ones we already have around the house. The wedding coordinator sent me a link to ones at Michael's for $12.99 each. I got 5 for about $4.75 at America's Thrift Store – and it will be a unique and interesting combination. Next I'll start looking for linens. We only have about 3 tables we need to cover for the ceremony, why on earth would I pay to rent? Thanks for the ideas, ladies, it never would have occurred to me to let guests take things like this home with them. Then I guess whatever's leftover can go back to the thrift store – and I can write it off on my taxes next year. Yeah! Now I'm excited!!! I think I'll check freecycle.org as well. Nothing really beats FREE! Reply Totally forgot about freecycle! Joining my local group right now. Reply I'm doing this too… is there a tribe topic on this? There should be, but before I create one, wanted to check. Not only for the deals, but for after to try trade/sell/donate what we've already spent so much time putting together to other brides. On that note, I am already having a hard time thinking about parting with my oddball collection of dishes. It's been awesome for parties (i.e. Christmas) to have no worries about having enough dishes for folks. If I can find the space I might just keep them. Reply We were married in October 2008 and we purchased disposable faux china from a wholesale club & "plastic" silverware from a restaraunt supply store. We had so many people hold up the "china" and "silverware" and go "Wow! I thought this was real!" We spent less than $150 for all the dinnerware. Hats off to any couple who has creativity and does thing their own way! Reply Hi Jeannie, just wondering which restaurant supply store you went to (any links online?). I have been considering getting "elegant" disposables for my wedding but afraid that it might look cheap…. 1 agrees Reply I've started collecting plates for our wedding, too. We're inviting 250 guests (really big families). I've got around 120 plates so far. Luckily, I have a year to go before the wedding. I think searching for the plates is so much fun! My friends, family & coworkers have even started bringing me plates! It takes a lot of work, but the little details like this make all of the difference. I've also been collecting mason jars. They can be used as candle holders and flower vases. I'm going to buy new mason jars in bulk to be used for iced tea, water and lemonade. Next up…flatware! Here's a photo of some of the plates: http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntnanny/3363043519/ 1 agrees Reply You guys just gave me an idea… nice, non matchy-matchy plates… hmm… Are you planning to donate all of these when you're done with your wedding? Reply I've been collecting all of my barware for our wedding at thrift stores – everything's glass, so it creates continuity, but the shape/design of each piece is so different. It makes for a unique and interesting display! Reply I have one important question: Did you use a caterer and if so, were they willing to wash the plates and give them back to you at the end of the night? I just started wondering what to do in this situation because I feel like most brides I know had their plates provided by their caterer. Wasn't sure how supplying your own would go over with them… Anyone have experience in this realm? I really love this idea, btw! Reply My caterer is going to scrape them clean and rebox them. Then they will be disbursed to various cleaning committees at the end of the night. 1 agrees Reply That is a super good idea. I am doing this for vases for centerpieces in my outdoor wedding. Picnic tables are so big and long, I decided to group 10 or so mis-matched vases on each table. Using resources like Craigslist and Freecyle, I've recieved most of my vases for free or 25 cents each! So far I have 100. To avoid the dish washing nightmare – and still help the planet, we're getting biodegradable/compostable silverware and plates made from sugar/starch. You can do disposable wooden stuff too. They're not too expensive and you can compost them or whatever. http://www.branchhome.com/index.php?main_page=pro… http://www.branchhome.com/index.php?main_page=pro… 1 agrees Reply YES. I knew I couldn't be the only person to want to do this, my fiance looked at me sort of funny when I told him I wanted to go buy mismatched thrift store dishes. I figure staying with a consistent color scheme with the dishes will make everything "go" but still be quirky and fun. And then just drop everything off at the Salvation Army again when the wedding is over. Reply i was afraid that i was going to be too tacky with this idea but it seems plenty are also doing it …. i am having a blast… reuse recycle!!! what a wedding favor… take a dish or setting home!! Reply I've been thinking about doing this, but haven't actually gone out to look at what they have in the local thrift stores. I'm glad to know someone else was super happy with what they found though – that gives me hope!! Reply I am doing this for my centrepieces – between me and my mom, we have collected aboutb70 mismatched willow pattern bowls, cups and saucers, teapots, sugar dishes etc that are all gonna be planted up with spring flowers and put in the middle of our tables. Reply Thanks for the post! I'm also picking out mismatched drink-ware for my reception. Personally, I think it adds a splash of color and is interesting for the guests. Reply I can't say how much I dig this idea, and how it's just made me feel like things are so much more afforable and achieveable, as well a personal and lovely!!!! Reply I think this is a great idea, and honestly if you don't mind spending a little more time, I am sure you can find ones that match your "Colors" if you have them. I am planning on doing this, every party I have ever had at my house, everyone used the same glass all night anyway, So just getting plates to add doesn't seem like a bad Idea. Plus I love Thrfting… Reply Love it! We are doing something similar. We have been collecting coffee mugs for our wedding in September. We are going to do wooden strips with hooks or nails in them and hang them so people can pick whichever one they want for their coffee or tea. Some of the ones we found are really awesome too. For wine we are using jelly jars and for all other beverages (beer,iced tea,water,etc.) we are using half quart canning jars. The nice part is that between my aunt and grandfather most of the jars were donated for us to use and when we are done we can give them back and they can be reused for jelly and canning. I'm an environmentalist and the idea of bags and bags of paper and plastic cups ending up in some landfill made me a little crazy! Now we are figuring out the whole plate thing. We are doing a heavy hors d'oeurves event and want smaller plates that people can walk around with so we are thinking of renting them. Still have to figure this one out! 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