The Barn at High Point Farms

wedding rings while holding hands

Wedding day is all about the bride and groom and their ceremony, right?  Yes and no.  It is certainly the priority of wedding day, but the logistics of all of the details and decisions require balancing priorities and budgets when it comes to decisions like whether you should use plastic or real dinnerware for your reception.

The pros to using plasticware

  1. Cheapest Option:  This is obviously the best reason to consider using plasticware for your reception.  Fortunately, nowadays, there are many beautiful options for some eye-appealing plastic plates specifically.  Whether with scallops or trimmed in gold, these plates will help the budget.
  2. Convenient:  Order online, have them delivered, and easy to transport. 
  3. No Maintenance Required:  No special delivery required or extra staff needed after the reception.  Just toss the dirty plates in the garbage can afterwards.
  4. No Breakage or Damage Risk:  If a plate is dropped, no need to fret about breakage and incurring damage fees. If you are using plasticwar outside for appetizers, it may be more practical to use plasticware.

Cons to Using Plasticware

  1. Flimsy Support:  Face it.  We have all experienced disasters when plasticware plates just did not hold up to the weight of a pile of food.  You can usually find decent quality plastic plates but it seems to be a challenge to find substantial plastic forks and knives.  If your meal choices will require your guests to actually cut their food, plasticware can become a frustrating process to just consuming their food.
  2. Presentation:  Many people are content with using plasticware but just not at a wedding.  While plasticware might pass acceptance for Cocktail Hour outside, it isn’t ideal in many circles for the actual wedding reception.
  3. Not Environmentally Friendly:  All of the plastic waste from a typical wedding is quite large and consumes many bags of garbage headed to the landfill.
real lates and glassware

The Pros to Using Real dinnware

  1. Presentation:  Real plates, silverware, and glassware will upgrade the level of your event no matter what decor you have added to the tables.  Face it.  You and likely all of your guests are dressed to the hilt so using plasticware on such a special occasion would feel like dressing up for a special date only to end up eating off of paper plates and a picnic table.  
  2. Substantial to Hold Up:  No matter what is on your menu and what amount of food is loaded onto a real plate, it will hold it with ease.  Real silverware will allow you to easily cut through any of your protein groups without breakage.
  3.  Adds to your Decor Vibe:  Using specialized plates like vintage dinnerware automatically becomes part of your decor vibe because it stirs interest in all of the unique styles.  Adding vintage goblets only exhaults further the stunning presentation of all of the glassware.  Real napkins can also be the icing on the cake not only by using a complimenting color but in the way that you fold the napkin.  Brass forks might blend in wonderfully with other brass accents decorated on  your tablescapes.
  4.  Environtmentally Friendly:  Real plates, silverware, and glassware can all be washed and reused again and leaves virtually no environmental impact. This is an asset that can last way beyond your wedding day that you can feel good about.
  5.  I am pretty sure that some guests will just state that wine tastes much better out of a real glassware of any sort whether a mason jar, glass tumbler, or vintage golblet.  
napkins twisted on china plates

The Cons of Using Real Dinnerware

  1. Most Expensive Option:  To rent real plates of any kind will be pricey due to the general expensive of the rental, the need to pack and transport both ways, and staff to distribute them and retrieve them.  Using real dishes typically requires at least returning them in a rinsed state.  On-site renting will have the washing expense factored into the pricing. 
  2. Requires More Time: The logistics of hauling in and setting out plates (retreiving, washing, packing, and re-loading) requires extra time. Typical staff cannot carry 30 plates like they could a stack of 30 plastic plates. Same goes for retrieving them. With weddings on a strict timeline, this needs to be factored in.
  3. There is some degree of risk of a damage fee for plates or glassware that gets broken. This is not typical on a large scale so the risk seems minimal but it is declared on the fine print of your rental agreement.


Ultimately, there are more than two choices for you.  Everything doesn’t have to be full one option or the other.  Here are some thoughts to ponder:

  • If you use plastic dinnerware and you are worried about the presentation factor, just stack the plates on the food table and guests won’t notice them as easily.
  • If you use plasticware then camoflauge them a bit by using a real napkin on top instead of a paper napkin. Another idea would be to place the folded paper napkin atop the plate but add a sprig of greenery (rosemary is a favorite) to the top of the plate to add a bit of pizzazz.
  • If you use plasticware plates then consider renting real silverware so that you can eliminate the embarrassment of broken plastic forks while cutting into the meat.
  • Use plasticware for Appetizer Hour but real plates for the reception.
simplicity lanterns

Final Comments:

Each bride has a different budget and a set of priorities as to where she wants to spend that money. This is reality.  If you just cannot afford real dinnerware, then this is your reality.  Make the best of it by purchasing better quality plastic plates, nicer creased paper napkins, and higher quality plastic forks.  Offset it maybe by one of the ideas above.   But, if you can afford the splurge, then it will be an asset from all angles; presentation will be amazing, guests will be pleased and impressed, rest assured there will not be snafoos with spilled food and broken plastics, the photos will be amazing, and you will help to save the planet.

tables with greenery
goblets and floating candles
inside reception

 ~ Margie

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