Linens are expensive. The average tablecloth will rent for $10-$15 and that really adds up if you have a lot of guests. In our case, we were looking at over $400, just for the tablecloths. I've been desperately trying to find a way around this. Perhaps renting from a Church? Or maybe a rental company in a nearby state? Both options are worth checking into.
Or consider making them. I didn't consider this initially because it seems like too much work but if there's anyone in your life who can sew then this could be a huge savings. Simple fabric is pretty inexpensive, especially if you manage to get a deal. Check out the chain craft stores like Michael's, Joann's, Hancock's, etc. that offer 40% or 50% coupons every week. Then, armed with your coupon, go buy up your fabric.
Do the math in advance. In my case, I needed 3 yards per table for rectangular tables and to cover 32 tables we needed 96 yards of fabric. I went with a simple 60" white muslin. You can find it as cheap as $1.99 a yard and with a 40% off coupon, for $1.20 a yard. It's important to look for fabric that has a selvaged edge (I recently learned that selvaged means finished). This will save you a lot of time because you'll only have to sew the ends of each tablecloth.
I'm not a crafty person and, while I've been more interested in DIY projects for this wedding, sewing is not something I want to attempt. However my grandmother can sew reasonably well and she's offered to help me with the project. You could also use bonding tape and an iron if you'd rather skip sewing altogether. It will take some time but not as much as you might think. My sister, grandmother and I can cut, sew and press them all in an afternoon.
My total costs include $118 for the fabric and about $20 in sewing materials. That's over a $300 savings for me. In addition, I have peace knowing that I didn't drop hundreds on tablecloths and have the option of selling or lending them post-wedding.
Additional sweet- you could have a seamstress add a monogram to the head tablecloth and have a keepsake from your wedding.