I started visiting thrift shops weekly, from Los Angeles to San Diego, for the stuff I wanted. First, it was important to have the plan and know what I was looking for. I decided to collect white coffee cups, flatware, white and cream napkins, tablecloths, punch bowls (to use as salad bowls,) barware, small bottles (to use for vases,) glass carafes (for water,) white plates and clear glass candlesticks (to create pedestals for the cakes,) cookie plates and so on. The hunt was very fun, since I love thrift shopping, and sometimes I had company which made it even more productive since I had extra eyes to find the goods.
This was very labor intensive and I would not recommend doing it if you do
not have help. Not only did I have to wash everything once when it came home from the thrifts, but then again after the wedding. The flatware was the worst, as you can imagine. Especially since I let the pieces sit in a bucket of water for days and days!
We purchased new metal trash cans with lids to use to transport the items, and to use for trash cans at the wedding, and then to store everything again afterwards.
The bride and groom's table. I found the pretty flower-shaped green plates, bowls, glasses and napkins just for their table. They used family heirloom gold-plated flatware.
The overview of the table set-up. Two long tables stretch the length of the green belt, with two smaller tables for the wedding party and their guests. The bride and groom have their own table complete with hand-crafted letters on their chairs and a vintage bed spread used as a table cover. The guest chairs were used for the ceremony and then carried over to the tables.
We made the pedestals with different sized white plates glued (not just plain glue) onto clear glass candlesticks. They have been so great to have around (I think I made fourteen of them!) and only one has broken in a couple of years. Use an epoxy and be sure your plate has a flat bottom and the candlesticks have a nice flat top that will be substantial enough to hold the plate. The key is finding the center point on the plate and then placing the candlestick centered over it - draw around the candlestick and place the glue there. Let dry overnight. I found several domes that came with cheese boards (which we used for the cheese and fruit spread) and love to use them in the kitchen when I bake.
I love little bottles. Some of these were vases, some were oil and vinegar carafes, but most were little bottles. All collected while thrifting. I used them all over the tables with flowers and fresh sprigs of herbs.
Gerbera's and herbs in the little jars. We also had small jelly jars of jelly beans for guests to take home. The runner is vintage 60s wallpaper was stashed in grandma's attic (I remember it hanging in her bathroom.) I cut it into long, narrow pieces to use down the center of the tables.
The punch bowls came with cups that I didn't really plan to use. Then I realized they would be perfect to hold the votive candles. We used unscented soy votives and they melt, so the cups were a great option. We also used the punch cups for salt on the tables. Pepper grinders were also placed with each salt cup.
White coffee mugs are in great supply in thrift stores and I had no problem finding enough in time for the wedding. I selected large cups or mugs that didn't need a saucer.
We stacked them up on the hot beverage bar. Instead of preparing coffee, we had several large urns with hot water. Coffee (Starbucks Via packets), tea bags, and hot cocoa were sure available.