Using vintage mis-matched china is a popular trend for weddings these days and is one of the options that Agua Linda offers our clients. Our china is beautiful, fine and varied.
Annie and Jamie's wedding on the farm with mis-matched china, Sarah Neyhart Photography
I began collecting china dishes long before I was in the wedding business. It started, really, when I was a little girl. My sisters and I LOVED having tea parties and our most treasured dishes were partial sets that my older sister found in a dump - literally!
We had moved from Maine to Nogales, Arizona in the late 70’s and our first home was a fantastic old ranch house built in the 1860’s - what a fabulous way to be introduced to the area! The rambling adobe house had been a museum in more recent years and relics from the past were everywhere - old wagons, metates, and more. Our imaginations ran wild when we discovered the old family cemetery that bordered the front yard but only Kristin had the nerve to venture in and beyond where she found the discarded remnants of what had been the family dump - she rummaged through old bottles and rusted metal pieces and unearthed lovely demitasse cups, saucers and mini serving pieces. For young girls, it was like she had found gold! Erika and I were terribly jealous and wanted to scrounge for our own - but not enough to brave through the terrifying graveyard in search of our own lucky finds (Kristin reinforced our fears with tales of ghosts and un-buried body parts!).
One of the miniature patterns found in the "dump" at Pete Kitchen's old ranch house. I'm not ready to let my toddler grandchildren play with these but have already begun collecting tin, enamelware and plastic sets for them to play with.
We had tea parties with that china for years thereafter. We wore Mom’s white gloves, hats and lipstick and often invited Honey Bear, my dog and childhood best friend, to be a guest. We would flutter fans and gossip with our best English accents and dine on peanut butter sandwiches cut in small squares with Bear sitting up to a chair at the dining table with us.
As an adult, I had amassed a fairly large quantity of dishes that I found at thrift stores and yard sales and was having difficulty defending my sanity to Stewart until, Yay!, my wedding clients started asking about renting them! My obsession had purpose! Ha! - my purchases were even a business tax right-off!
The collecting has continued and I now have enough dinner plates for 150 guests with almost as much dessert plates and cups and saucers. Each piece is hand washed, so it is a chore when they are used, but I enjoy being reunited with each one as I lovingly clean them the day after a wedding. Each is my new favorite for a moment - until I wash the next, of course. I am proud that my collection is finer than what I have seen other caterers offer my clients. Though I have slowly amassed such beautiful dishes, I have spent only a couple dollars a piece at the most. I found a set yesterday, in fact. It was $15 at a thrift store for a total of 52 pieces! See it in the photo below - who could resist?
My most recent addition to the collection - LOVE!!
When I get home with a new find, I turn a plate over and get the brand and design information off the back then look them up online to find their value at Replacements.com or Ebay. I tell myself that their actual dollar value doesn't matter - if I love the piece than it is perfect and welcome to join the collection, but recently, for example, I bought 8 plates for a dollar each and discovered that they are worth $49 a piece! Very satisfying.
They look so beautiful set on the table at a wedding or tea party - plain old white china can’t compare! Some brides try to collect their own, but with usually only a year to gather, they are not likely to stumble upon so many quality pieces without spending ALOT of money. At only $1 each to rent, I share my dishes at a bargain!
This is one of my plates used in a style shoot with Soiree Girls
This next spring I am planning on having a “Great Gatsby” inspired croquet and tea party with friends. I will bust out my china and we will all wear white and giggle and gossip and drink tea - I can't wait to show off my dishes!