I love all things vintage so it wasn’t a huge leap of the imagination when we decided to have a vintage inspired wedding reception!  The main issue was which era to go for. I love the elegance of the 1920s, the beautiful clean lines of Art Deco and sumptuous fabrics used in decoration and fashion.

The thing is, I also love the glamour of the 30s/40s and the exuberance of the 1950s. Even the 60s was appealing, imagine a cute mini shift dress and Mary Janes!

With far too many influences to pick from I decided to have elements of them all…

The one thing I was certain about was that my partner and I wanted a garden fete style reception after the ceremony. Guests were greeted with a glass of Pimms as they walked into the garden and our venue provided local Somerset cider and ale barrels around which we placed hay bales covered with blankets for a comfy drinking area.  Bunting to decorate the marquee was a must!  We decided on a BBQ wedding breakfast which was cooked outside and served to the tables on platters, followed by wonderful desserts such as French apple tart and white chocolate cheesecake served with strawberries.

The piste de resistance for me was serving tea in my wonderful bone china teacups and all the desserts were served on vintage side plates that I had lovingly collected while we were engaged. Now, 80 odd teacups and side plates is a lot of crockery to be lying around the house! Luckily we have a cellar so I was able to use this as a storage area until needed, but not everyone is going to have the space.

A good alternative is to use a vintage china hire company. With the popularity in all things ‘vintage’ growing,  so too have companies that can supply all that you may need for your special day. The boom in china hire has grown quickly, while  I was searching for inspiration for my wedding reception two years ago I came across one or two suppliers in this area. Looking now there is a vast amount of competition,  although they are all very similar in pricing. TIP!  Be sure to read the small print, the difference between each may be down to how much they charge for delivery and collection, cleaning and breakages. Most even offer a styling and set up service at your venue.

Idyllic Days was the first company I came across while sourcing for my own wedding. They have been going since 2005 so are now highly experienced in this field. Offering   complete decoration of your chosen venue, they can supply not only tea cups but dinner plates, furniture and accessories such as bunting and vintage ephemera. Another bonus for the busy bride to be is that they can also recommend suppliers of flowers and other designers to work alongside them in a team to create the perfect setting for your wedding. More hands-on brides may feel a bit perturbed at letting someone else take over the decoration (myself included) but you will have a full consultation with the design team beforehand and will be in total control of how it all looks.

Eclectic Bliss is another hire company but with the added bonus of having their own shop, so you don’t have to give everything back! They sell cake stands made from vintage plates in one, two or three tiers. You can even design your own, if you have some sentimental pieces of china passed down through your family this could be the perfect keepsake and reminder of your wedding day (and maybe Grandma’s?).

Be sure to double check where they can deliver to as some are restricted to their specific  areas and be sure that they have enough crockery to supply your size of wedding party. Idyllic days can go up to 500 guests, but be sure to book early to avoid disappointment, hire companies advertise their service for birthdays and hen parties too so there may be something already booked on your day!

The majority of companies seemed to be based in the South of England but one company, Vintage Teas & RSVPs (great name) are based in Northamptonshire. This would be a better company to go for if you are having your nuptials further North as you should consider delivery and collection costs. They can provide an afternoon tea service from 2 to 300 guests, or if you would like them to provide a dinner service they can cater for up to 150 guests.

This list is a mere drop in the ocean of companies that can provide beautiful china for that elegant touch. Be sure to shop around and read the small print to compare prices. Or if you are a DIY bride like myself you can do what I did and trawl the charity shops and vintage markets to find some bargains. Just remember you’ll be washing them up yourselves!!