A Day in the Life … For The Love Of Vintage: styling an English Summer Fete wedding in the Lake District
Today we have a lovely guest post from Sharon who runs a vintage crockery company For The Love Of Vintage. For our ‘A Day in the Life’ feature Sharon is taking us along to find out what it’s like to be involved with one particular summer Lake District wedding.
Over to Sharon…
Apart from my life long obsession with crockery and getting to play tea parties every day, the two things I love most about my job are the variety (as no two vintage weddings are ever the same) and the people I meet.
I have styled weddings in all sorts of venues but was especially excited when Kimberly and Tim contacted me to discuss their big day. We met over a year before the wedding, eating cake, drinking tea and talking about the wonderfully creative ideas they had and our mutual love of Cocker Spaniels!
One of the things I loved most about the ideas for the day was Kimberley and Tim’s determination to use artisan crafts people, local suppliers and really bring their treasured Lake District as a theme into the whole day. I just knew from the start this was going to be a very special wedding.
After a year of planning and preparation July 6th was almost upon us. It’s hard to squeeze an event like this into just one day but here is my story of a perfect wedding day!
July 5th 2013
On what would turn out to be the first of many very hot days in July, we packed up the china and hit the M6, destination Bank Ground Farm, Lake Coniston. Perhaps the first time I’ve been to the Lakes for about 10 years when it hasn’t rained. Our bride and groom were blessed!
The farm which was the venue for a weekend-long celebration (and the setting for Arthur Ransom’s book Swallows & Amazons), sits on a hill above Coniston Water. The wedding reception was being held in a wonderful teepee complete with fire pits and chill out zone and placed at the water’s edge with stunning views across the lake. What could be more perfect!
So our first job after unpacking all the boxes of china, was to set lay out all the tablecloths. Kimberley and Tim’s vision was for a rustic English Summer Fete style and they loved the idea of striped tablecloth. Most of the cloths available were a little too twee, so with the help of my family, we made these simple white and grey cloths which really effective at showing off the china and suited the tepee perfectly.
I usually provide china for afternoon tea but on this occasion a little more was needed to cater for a 3 course meal – luckily I have a large collection of plates but was missing the essential cutlery which I spent a whole year sourcing. Good quality vintage cutlery isn’t easy to find. I wanted it to be just as Kimberly had envisaged as this was an important detail to her. Once the cloths were laid we set about placing all the cutlery and boy did it take some polishing!
My simple white linen napkins which were tied with Kimberley’s ‘to have and to hold’ ribbon and decorated with handmade origami cranes – handmade by the bride, all 55 of them! Now that’s impressive DIY skills!
The next job was to dress the tables with all of Kimberley’s special touches, farm animal toys for place settings, wine flags, old penguin books, pin wheels, badges, mini Rubik’s cubes for the kids, and a selection of cameras of all ages for guest to snap their special moment from the day.
The Lakes are a very special place the Kimberley and Tim, so it was only fitting that the tables were named after famous peaks and tarns of the area and copies of Lake District vintage advertising prints used to decorate.
This all took about 4 hours so it was time to check into our B&B, take an evening stroll and enjoy dinner in a local pub then off to bed for an early night ready for the big day and final preparations.
July 6th 2013 – The Big Day!
I arrived back at the farm before breakfast to start setting up the china and to an overwhelming sight created by the florist. Briefed to bring the countryside inside, I think it’s fair to say that the inside of the teepee resembled a combination of English country garden and Lake District hedgerow.
The tables were simply dotted with small vases of blooms but the whole mixture of flowers made it feel as if you truly were in the midst of the countryside, complete with bumble bees who followed the nectar into the tepee and must have thought all their birthdays had come at once!
I don’t usually hire out my old milk churn as it belonged to my Gran, but where else would it ever look so perfect than on a farm! And my Gran would have loved to have seen her old milk churn welcoming guests into the tepee.
So with all the flowers and favours in place the tables were ready for the china, each guest had a matching teacup and saucer and bread plate! Normally at this stage I would be placing all the china on the table, teapots, cake stands etc, but as this was a 3 course meal all of the plates and teapots were in the kitchen tent ready for the caterers to serve directly onto. A selection of our handmade 3 tier cake stands were used to serve guest canapés after the ceremony.
One of my favourite cups! With groom Tim being a HUGE Newcastle United fan there was really only one cup for him!
Ta-dah! All set and ready for guests!
Once the tables were all set it was time to focus on the dessert table. Along with our good pals at And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon we created a mouth-watering dessert table with all the bride and grooms favourite puds. A rustic table dressed with wooden crates, old suitcases and vintage kitchenalia – and the most delicious selection of desserts.
All that remained was the final check – making sure that everyone had exactly the china they needed and each place setting was neat. A quick last check that there were no stray boxes or bubble wrap (which I swear has legs!) and all was ready.
It was now 2.30pm so it was off for a long pub lunch and a lazy afternoon sat by a stream watching the world go by – and by that I mean the swallows darting across the sky, the Dippers – well dipping, and birds of prey soaring high above the skyline – just a perfect way to unwind after a very busy morning.
The sounds from the wedding band and DJ could be heard across the Lake at our B&B and what was so wonderful was it sounded like one hell of a good ‘do,’ so I was pleased that all sounded as if it was going well.
July 7th 2013 – The Aftermath
Don’t worry there are no images of dirty plates about to pop up. But there is no way to dress up this part of my job, it’s messy and takes a considerable time to clear down the china. Plates need to be scraped, teapots emptied and everything needs to be wrapped and packed again for the journey home. Luckily for me the wonderful team of caterers had packed much of the china away for me so turned a 4 hour job into a 2 hour job – what a treat!
However once I’m home it all needs to be washed. Luckily for me I like washing up, but this is not the glamorous part of my job. A wedding for 100 can take 2-3 days to wash, dry and re-pack.
However, clearing down does have its upside: many guests were popping into the teepee to collect left handbags, shoes and snaffle some remaining cake, so to hear their account of how wonderful the day had been always makes the washing up seem that bit easier to face. Kimberley and Tim had their perfect wedding day and that was all that mattered to me.
A dream wedding for me, not just because the bride and groom were so wonderful to work with , an amazing venue, so many fantastic ideas and such an eye for the details, but because everyone I met who was involved with the day be it guest or supplier were just such friendly or professional people.
A perfect day (or three), happy clients, sore feet and lots of washing up. I love my job.
And a huge thank you to the wonderful team I had the pleasure of meeting and working with: Brackens of Bowness (flowers); Karen Rhodes (catering); And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon (dessert table); Bank Ground Farm (venue); PapaKåta (teepee); Blackberry Cottage Bakery (wedding cake); Emma Case Photography and Debs Ivelja Photography (wedding photographers); and Garry Lomas Photography (my wonderfully patient husband, driver, un-packer and taker of blog images).
Images: Garry Lomas