You may know it by the trail of crumbs, but soon, renowned caterer Ball n’ Biscuit—co-founder of the local pop-up restaurant group—will also be famous for Table of Contents, its rental company featuring utterly unique vintage pieces.
If you’re hosting a party with character, whether it’s a wedding, bridal shower or a Saturday night feast, a table set with antique dishes, silverware and all the accoutrements may be the ideal way to give your event a little extra polish. A growing trend coast to coast, vintage rentals have made it to Milwaukee, and Table of Contents (whose name we adore) is one of the main players.
“Doing the vintage rentals, people are allowed to show a great deal of their personalities through what they chose to rent from us,” says MaryBeth Kressin, the company’s day-of wedding coordinator. “It is fun to share the love and appreciation of ‘vintage’ with people who want to make their events a little more detail oriented and a little more of a statement.”
For Ball n’ Biscuit owners Maria Miller and Daniel Clines, the stars sort of aligned. Soon after couples began wishing for vintage tableware, the pair discovered that Kressin, then a catering server, had amassed a collection of 100 antique plates for her own recent wedding.
“The seed was planted,” Kressin says. She and Miller began hunting for more items at estate sales, rummage sales and thrift stores—“which is half the fun for both of us,” she explains. Add to that donations from friends, family and newlyweds who don’t need their vintage wedding settings anymore, and they’ve got quite a collection.
So, last summer, the company began renting vintage plates, Mason jars, table linens, crates and doors for weddings, photo shoots and even a children’s tea party. “The more we put it out there, the more people were interested,” says Kressin. In fact, more than half of Ball n’ Biscuit’s summer 2013 couples hope to work with Table of Contents, too.
Though the rental price list currently includes items that are in stock and ready for events, the team is always broadening their inventory, whether it’s including another china design era or different kind of furniture. “Every week and every event we expand our collection more with frames, chalkboard signs, chairs and tables, for example, depending on requests and desires,” Kressin says. “If there is something a couple wants and we don’t have it now, we will strive to get it for them and then have it in our collection.”
If you’re a vintage fan, make an appointment to meet Kressin and Miller at their studio in the Milwaukee Fortress building (100 E. Pleasant St.) where you can peruse some of Table of Contents’ offerings and brainstorm party décor ideas together. You’ll receive an estimate, and once you’ve decided on your items, made a deposit and signed the policy agreement, the pieces are yours for the event. Kressin will even help you pin down the logistics: “Maria and I know what works and what doesn’t work, and we apply that knowledge and experience not only to the vintage rentals but also helping guide brides and grooms in the direction for the smoothest and best wedding that they possibly could have,” Kressin says.
True, Table of Contents and Ball n’ Biscuit are related, but they’re flexible and you don’t need to hire both for your soiree (though you get a discount on rentals if you do). And if you like what your venue has to offer but want more vintage flair, Kressin suggests taking a look at their additional décor items, including suitcases, doors and windows, to enhance the ambience. Whatever rentals you choose, you can be sure your event will add one more layer of history to these antique treasures.
“Both Maria and I have a lot of respect for every era, history and nostalgia found in each piece that we have,” she says. “We believe that there is an energy with old items and it is great to be able to use them to their full extent time and time again.”