In defense of using thrift store dishes & silverware at your wedding

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…

Patrick & Hayley-muglies, shamelessly idea-ganked

I just want to say that I am having an absolute blast finding awesome, unique, and totally, insanely cheap thrift store dishes and silverware for our wedding.

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.

Comments on In defense of using thrift store dishes & silverware at your wedding

  1. 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 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.

  2. Good for you! I love this thrifty, creative, eco-friendly, supporting-charitable-organizations way to subvert the WIC! Hurrah!

  3. 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.

    • tattoo artist AND tarot reader… OMG!!! genius!!! i miiiight have to steal these ideas from you!! xo

    • 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!

  4. I am SO emailing this to my mom and my fiance, who think I’m insane for wanting to do this!!

  5. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

    • 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!

  8. Where are these thrift stores that give such ridiculously good deals? All the ones around here are much more expensive…

    • 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!

    • 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.

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