Let's start out with some assumptions, shall we?
- We're going to have 175 guests (no, I don't want to think about what happens if more than 150 people show up, space-wise or budget-wise. But dang if people aren't enthusiastic about coming to this shindig. And dang if I'm not terrified of what happens if they all come. Terrified and happy, of course)
- We are not renting plates or silverware. Instead, we already bought these eco-plastic plates and I am looking into bamboo fork options (we don't need knives or spoons).
- We are willing to nix all rented glassware for eco-plastic options, if the options are truly eco-friendly and not terribly ugly.
- Our site comes with a few included items (yay!): reception chairs and reception tables that we can't bring outside for the ceremony or buffet set up (boo) and a brushed concrete floor that eliminates the need for a dance floor. It's not a lot, but every bit helps.
- We asked out caterers if they need any rentals, and they said "just two banquet tables for the buffet line." Sweet.
- We have hired a bartender and two bussers through Border Grill Truck to help with the day. Border Grill will also have five people working the actual food set up/serving line. Yes, the Border Grill Truck is still incredibly affordable, even when we hired these extra helper-staff, who are worth their weight in worry-free logistics gold.
- For drinks, we are getting a few kegs, lots of bottles of wine (kept at the bar), sangria (during cocktail hour), and we are providing pitchers of water at each table.
If we decide to go with rented glassware, we need to add this:
I read somewhere that we need three glasses (for both wine AND beer) per person, since people all get tipsy enough to set down multiple glasses and walk away. I have no idea if it's true that people can't keep track of their own glasses, but I wouldn't want to impede our ability to imbibe.
Alternatively, we could go with eco-plastic cup purchases, which would save us about $800, if my back of the envelope calculations and cost assumptions are right. Here's what we could get, while still saving $800:
The big question regarding eco-plastic options is what the second-best sustainable option is, since rentals are the greenest choice. But we're trying to be ethical and frugal, leaving us wondering whether to use compostable cups (generally corn-based, or "bagasse") or cups made from 50% recycled materials. The problem with compostable options is that many industrial composting facilities won't accept bagasse-plastics. Really. I called the City of Los Angeles' Department of Sanitation to ask about composting locations, but they explained that bagasse needs to be in the composter for a longer time than standard food scraps or green waste to properly break down. Therefore, bagasse throws off commercial composting operations and can't generally be included with standard industrial compost materials. I found a website that might be able to help me find alternative local composting options, but I need to call and check if these options really compost bagasse. If I can't find an industrial composting facility to take the corn-based cups, I refuse to buy them because I refuse to send that many cups to a landfill. Even though bagasse cups are technically biodegradable... nothing really biodegrades in a landfill. If you throw a banana peel in a modern landfill, it won't biodegrade. Organic substances need air to break down, but the trash is too tightly packed to allow air to work its biodegrading magic on landfill items.
If composting isn't an option, we can consider buying cups made out of 50% recycled material (the FDA regulates post-consumer plastics in food packaging, so it's hard to find concentrations above 50% recycled plastic.) Using recycled PET plastic saves petroleum (oil is used to make plastic as both a component and for energy) and keeps the reused plastic waste out of landfill, so I like that this option is somewhat eco-friendly(er) and very affordable. Unfortunately, PET plastic is not recyclable in most areas (plastics can't be endlessly recycled. At some point, they cannot be remade into a new product). However, Santa Monica (where I work) definitely recycles PET and I'll need to research it for Los Angeles (where I live). If you're considering these cups, you should check with your local municipality or "materials recovered facility" (MRF for short) to see if #1 PET plastic is accepted (they are labeled with a #1 inside the recycling symbol, which is the code for PET plastic).
I need your help. Did I leave anything off the rental list? And what's your honest opinion of the attractiveness of the eco-plastic glasses? The ones I posted here would be our 9 oz "wine glass" choice and we'd also order a 16 oz "beer mug" choice.
Bah to decisions. Especially decisions made as I stab blindly, in the dark, hoping I'm not making too many mistakes that won't cost too too much*
*Ha. Since we're talking about rentals with same day drop-off and pick-up, it definitely costs a lot. Like $2000+ a lot. Even without the need for tables.
If you're interested in more rental overview issues for your wedding, check out this post from Amber Events, a wise local wedding planner.