sandwich display from jenloveskev
champagne/dessert spread from project wedding
We covered a buffet table with a simple white tablecloth and stocked it with champagne and sweet treats. To keep the look cohesive, we chose food with a similar color palette (pink, gold, and green). Goodies like chocolate, shortbread cookies, fruit, tarts, and small pastries are easy for guests to eat using only a cocktail napkin, so silverware and plates are optional.
We're meeting with a potential caterer on Saturday who I think will help us do a rough estimate on rentals, but if that doesn't work out, I do like the patterned Ikea paper napkins and disposable bamboo plates/silverware that Shannon posted.
I also had an idea of making up fabric napkins from thrifted fabrics for everyone monogrammed with their initials, used to signify seating arrangements (before the more mingling, cocktail style) that they'd use and then take home as favors. However, for people who aren't into it already, the idea of reusable hankies or napkins for every day (not just as restaurants, I mean) probably is too much of a stretch and so it'd be a lot of work for not too much payoff. I can't figure out darning on my sewing machine yet, so embroidery/monogramming is still farther off.
I also seem to remember reading somewhere (I think on 2000 Dollar Wedding?) that in certain cases it's cheaper to just buy tableware and linens, either through thrifting or at restaurant stores instead of renting them. The problem of course is then the clean up. I think linens might not be too bad, and from the above I think I shall definitely keep an eye out for interesting plates (superglue a support to the bottom and you've got a stand!), cake platters and dessert stands. My thrifting afficionado friends, you are hereby on notice to keep an eye out for me as well (this means you, Emily of Florida with the amazing thrift stores).