Bridal Tricks – Beautiful Wedding Linens for Practically Free

by Elin on September 21, 2010


The difference between plain-old banquet tables and tables draped in lovely linens is pretty dramatic.  In fact, you could say, it’s the difference between a bride walking down the aisle in a J.C. Penney slip, versus one in a Claire Pettibone gown that’s tailored perfectly to her figure.

To wit, these revealing pics:


Luxurious table linens warm up and personalize even a stark room, and they can make a decent banquet hall into something spectacular.

Desirable?  Clearly.  The problem is the cost.

One way to solve it: throw it at your celebrity wedding planner, who’ll head straight to Wildflower Linens and order something spectacular.  But, you say, your last name isn’t “Kardashian?”.  Don’t worry, you still have options.


Let’s look at specifics.  Here are some entry-level linens from a prominent national event company: renting a single tablecloth for one banquet table runs you $34.  A table runner is $15 and a chair cover, plus chair sash, adds up to $4.50.  This isn’t counting little details like napkins, or larger statements like overlays.  And how about more upscale linens, like brocade or pin tucked?  Needless to say, if you’re on a beer budget, these involve champagne costs that can break your heart.

Not to worry, though: smart brides (and their moms) have figured out how to get some beautiful linens for free, or nearly so.  The secret?  Buy, don’t rent.  The other secret?  Buy them used and sell them after the wedding.

Believe it or not, there are brides all over the internet dying to sell you their linens for a fraction of what they paid for them.  All you have to do is find them, and I’m going to tell you how.

Trick #1: eBay
eBay is the toughest spot to seek out used linens, but it’s always worth a look.  Instead of searching for “wedding linen” (which tends to turn up a bunch of vintage handkerchiefs and suits), look for “wedding tablecloths.”  eBay will hold your hand by suggesting related phrases like “chair covers” and “table runners.”

Once you have some results, scroll down the left used and check Condition: used.  wedding-planning

Now you have to separate the wheat from the chaff, or the real brides from retailers masquerading as brides.  “Real” used items are usually sold in a lot, not by the piece, ideally with an odd specific number.  For example, listings like “43 tablecloths for sale!” means the seller is probably a real bride who ditched the cloths that got merlot on them.

Also, real listings will typically say that they were used once or twice, and describe any stains or imperfections.  Wedding linens in specific colors tend to be the real deal; listings that say “available in any color!” are not.

Trick #2: Craigslist
You already know Craigslist can be a crack place to find a photographer on the cheap, but did you think to look for linens?  If you live near a metro area, you’re probably in luck.  A quick search near mine turned up a bride with navy & ivory pin tuck taffeta linens and satin overlays for 150 guests, not to mention a host of candy jars, silver chargers and silver frames for the table numbers.  Score!

Trick #3: Consignment Sites
Take a look at some of the more popular wedding consignment sites, which have grown into great places to turn over pretty linens.  Two great examples are Recycled Bride and Bravo Bride.  These aren’t always the cheapest place to get them, but the photos are often top-notch, giving you a great idea of what you’re getting.

Trick #4: Make Google Your … Poodle
One of the best ways to get great linens at best price is to hit Google, hard.  The secret is the magical word, “forum.”

Start by entering this phrase into Google, using your color of choice (let’s say pink):


now add the magic word, forum:


When I did this search, it turned up absolutely bona fide real brides selling pink wedding linens in sites like Super Weddings, Project Wedding, FavorIdeas, OneWed, the Knot and Pash Weddings.

How to Resell Your Linens

The secret to a successful resale is to plan it out ahead.  Here are a few quick tips:

1. Have the D.J. remind to your guests to carefully avoid smearing anyau jus or mustard on the tables (Just kidding. This is a terrible idea.  Don’t do it.)
2. Take a well-lit close up shot if your linens have any beautiful detailing, like embroidery or pin tucking.
3. Have your pro snap one or several shots of the tables right before the guests arrive, to show off your linens in action.  Believe me, this investment will pay off.
4. After the wedding, carefully wash, inspect and press your linens, taking care to address and remove any stains.  Or, have your fairy godmother do it.
5. Now, using the hot spots listed above, go forth and sell them!  You’ll be one happy bride, who had a luxe reception on the cheap and can rest assured of her brilliance.

A Few Final Money-Saving Tips


These quick tips will help you squeeze out every last penny when it comes to buying and re-selling your linens.

Brashly Negotiate.  For example, on eBay, if you see “best offer,” use it! Even if you don’t see it, you can always email a seller and see if they’re willing to knock down the price for a sure sale.

Mix and Match.  If you’re having a huge wedding and can’t quite find enough chair sashes or overlays at a rock-bottom price, have you considered combining two hues that coordinate well?  This might be easier to source, and look amazing to boot!

Wait and See.  Don’t just jump on the first set of linens that you see if recouping most of your cash is important to you.  Remember that in all transactions, your buy price typically determines how much you’ll get back when you sell.

Happy hunting!

Elin Coats writes for FavorIdeas, a great source for warm wedding advice, favors and bridal accessories.  Stop by for an appetizing selection of edible wedding favors.

Categorized In: Accessories, Decor


One Response to “Bridal Tricks – Beautiful Wedding Linens for Practically Free”
  1. sandie says:

    I am looking for 125 royal blue napkins and 125 white chair covers at a good price.

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