I’m in much the same boat as you. We’re renting dinner plates, but buying the following:
linens: making some (90″ unhemmed squares for 5′ round tables), and the rest came from linentablecloth.com (google for coupon codes)
napkins: I was ok with paper but mom wanted cloth–these are from cvlinens.com (hemmed edges)
The quality on both of the above is pretty good. The fabric is a little cheaper–it looks nice but does feel a little nylon-ish. I’m still happy with them, and plan to resell after the wedding to make some money back.
silverware: we may rent, or buy from sam’s club. The stuff from sam’s club is cheaper, but my mom doesn’t think it’s nice enough (its standard cafeteria stuff, and I’d roll it in the napkin, so i think it’s fine). we’re also just doing knife and fork since thats all thats actually needed.
cake/appetizer plates/napkins/forks: all disposable here, clear plates and forks
bar glasses: again, disposable, but nicer looking clear ones. wine glasses will be the short, squat 9 oz tumblers rather than stemware
water glasses on tables: boxes of 12 pint glasses are 6.97 at walmart–we’re doing that and will then have spare glasses for us, parents, siblings, etc. to use at home. here, the cost was about the same as renting, but we don’t have to worry about washing and returning, and we can use them later.
I also found rental prices varied alot. I did alot of internet searching and made spreadsheets to compare prices. The tent, tables, and chairs are cheapest from a company that didn’t have online prices, so it can be worth calling too!