China in your hand

Traditional tea sets and hand-embroidered tablecloths have helped make vintage-inspired events so popular. Sharon Dale reports

Vintage tea services

There’s nothing like a floral china tea set to give the past a lovely rose-tinted hue, even if you’re not old enough to remember sipping from a delicate Crown Devon cup in your grandma’s front room.

For me, the memories are real, yet for many of those now captivated by vintage style they are imagined but just as potent. The evidence for this strength of feeling is in the number of events that aim to capture the spirit of the 1940s and ’50s. The fashion for vintage-style weddings has been gaining momentum over the last few years and now they are all the rage.

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This has led to a big issue for brides and grooms who are struggling to source “something old”. While the trend’s front runners had no problem finding pretty tea cups and embroidered linen table cloths, couples today are struggling to find the quantities they require

Vintage tea services

The supply and demand issue has opened the door to a new Yorkshire-based business, Vintage in a Teacup.

Founded by Caroline Harrison, it supplies everything you need for your “do” along with a few clever extras. Everything is for hire and Caroline will also deliver and dress the venue for you if required. The idea started when she got married last year and staged her own vintage wedding party in a series of tipis.

“I collected everything myself and bought too much but I realised that good pieces were getting harder and harder to find.

“Brides often set out looking for their own vintage china, and I would encourage that as it’s fun, but it takes a huge amount of time. That’s where we come in. We can either supply everything you need or if you got half-way and had to give up, we can top up and supply the rest.

“Another good thing is that by hiring what you need you can get an exact cost, which helps a lot when budgeting for a wedding,” says Caroline.

She looks for British bone china in perfect condition with pretty and unusual patterns and any gilt rims completely intact.

You can tell if they’ve been put in a dishwasher as the gilt begins to fade, according to Caroline, who insists on washing the crockery herself after an event.

She’s also created some wooden table markers and has sewn her own bunting that you can hire or have designed and made bespoke.

“The table signs are made from silver birch. My parents-in-law were cutting some trees back and I saved some of the wood. It’s great because it doesn’t go green or collect mould as it doesn’t produce much sap. They are really effective.”

Her services are proving popular and not just for weddings. “People are having vintage hen dos, birthday parties and baby showers as they move away from an night out to an afternoon tea.

“I’ve also noticed a move away from hotel weddings to rustic events outside, in marquees and tipis, which teams really well with a vintage theme.”

The appeal of all things old is “is in the prettiness of it and in the nostalgia,” says Caroline.

Vintage in a Teacup, www.vintageinateacup.co.uk, tel: 07870557062