A spot of afternoon tea…

afternoon tea laceVintage crockery is all the rage currently and I fully understand why, it brings to life to your table decorations and can be the perfect foundation to a vintage or shabby chic themed wedding.  Who doesn’t love an afternoon tea? We do!  I’m not sure how much tea Adie drank before meeting me but I can safely say he has upped his game and along with my Mum’s delicious baking, loves nothing more than a brew and a cake.  Sorry Adie, the secret’s out!  We wanted to incorporate this love into the wedding but didn’t want to be tied down to ‘an afternoon tea’ and we were concerned about the times of the day and people’s grumbling stomach’s; fingers crossed we have solved this situation now, by separating our main dishes and formal tea with the speeches, but this is a whole other post on its own! [more to follow on this!]

Straight away I knew that I wanted to source the crockery myself, hiring it out saves time certainly, but collecting it was going to be the fun part! We have been busy ever since, scouring car boots, flea markets, eBay and charity shops and have had many helping hands along the way too.  My Dad took collecting the china as an opportunity to visit the market religiously and I think he may have it enjoyed it even more than me, thank you Dad! Family and friends have all chipped in with a few finds from various places and we were lucky to get all sorts from stallholders who saved items for us, as they knew we were looking.  Actually, this is the bit I have loved most about collecting the china, every Saturday we would have new gorgeous finds to go and see, and hearing the stories of where they had come from made it even more exciting!

Our vintage crockery…

They don’t match perfectly, are not all full sets and some have come alone, but I love that along with a little help, we have found them all ourselves, for a fraction of the hire cost.  What a perfect excuse to visit markets, antique stores, junk and charity shops.  My favourite places in the world! If you are considering doing it yourself then here are a few top tips to help keep you on track.

    • Plan what crockery you want as a minimum setting.  You may just want cups and saucers for each person and perhaps a few cake stands to add an extra touch or you may decide that you’d like small plates for the side.  We have actually gone the whole hog and ended up with full settings, but this is a personal preference and depends dramatically on time, budget and a willingness to search high and low.
    • Decide what you are going to do with the crockery afterwards.  You may like to keep a few items to add to a dresser at home or decide to move your items on, by charity shop, selling them or even starting your own vintage crockery hire, who knows?  If selling, whether by car boot or on eBay this will impact on your budget significantly.  Prettier sets, branded china and well known crockery or even matching groups may sell more successfully, therefore you may be willing to spend a little more to start with.

cup saucer laceThis little pink Tuscan set is my favourite out of everything! They are so pretty! We found these little gems in Lancaster’s Assembly Rooms,making them even more special. I spent a little bit more on these as they far too pretty to ever let go of!

    • Set your budget.  This part is vital! If you are anything like me or my Dad your eyes will light up at the first sign of china and there is a chance of getting carried away, either by paying too much or buying too many.  Be sensible about your overall budget and where today’s find fits into it.
    • Keep track. This is especially important if you are lucky enough to have friends and family helping, otherwise you may end up with saucers coming out of your ears but could have a serious cup shortage and we wouldn’t want that 🙂 I found it easier to keep a note on my phone and snapped quick photos to help me remember colours or patterns.
    • Quality.  This one is quite simple, a lot of the crockery you will buy is old and it will all need a good clean (or two) but don’t let that put you off, unless it is badly stained or chipped the rest will come up sparkling with a good bit of elbow grease!  If you would be happy to drink from it, buy it!
    • Storage space.  Ok, so here is where having a Dad with a good garage comes in handy, although he would probably disagree! It is important though that you consider somewhere dry where you could keep all of your lovely items.  I have packed ours with bubble wrap and newspaper and have only moved them to organise them.

2014-05-10_13997509372014-05-10_1399751115This is a perfect example of ‘mix-match’ items that share a colour or tone and I think they work really well together.

‘Mix-Match’ vs Matching.  We decided to do a take on ‘mix match’ but did put a little thought into the organisation and grouped the crockery into rough colours or pattern schemes, see above.  This was an especially helpful stage as it allowed us to clearly see what items we had and importantly what items we still need.  We now only have a few milk jugs and large dinner plates to go!mix and match lace

Below are a sneak peek of some of our lovely finds…

This set is fantastic as it will ‘mix & match’ with many pieces. It’s simplicity makes it even more beautiful!2014-05-11_1399832001Plain and simple, but a lovely shade of blue and a pretty shape.2014-05-11_1399831903I loved this orange set as soon as I saw it, it will really bring some of our pastel shades to life!2014-05-11_1399831859 Last but by no means least, our top table gems!
2014-05-11_1399831788 A final…ahhhhhhh!
I cannot wait to see it all out on the tables and people using it, it is even more satisfying knowing the journey some of us have been on sourcing and collecting it! If you are considering doing a DIY afternoon tea I hope this post has been helpful, I have enjoyed every minute of collecting it and will enjoy every minute of using it!  NellyNora x

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