Doug Patberg knows how to keep several plates spinning at once — enough to put on a gathering for 250 people to be exact. The event and wedding coordinator began collecting vintage china to use for corporate and private functions about 15 years ago.
“It’s just becoming really popular again with the shabby chic barn weddings,” he says. “They all like that type of look.”
Patberg coordinates charity and corporate events, galas, and weddings all over the state and country in Evansville; Indianapolis; Bloomington; Nashville, Tennessee; New York; and Connecticut. His most recent function in Evansville was for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Partners’ annual Butterfly Tea, but the largest gathering he has coordinated was a wedding for more than 500 guests.
Many of the vintage dishes are well-known brands like Limoges, Haviland, Royal Doulton, and Noritake found everywhere from yards sales to antique stores, with the majority of pieces in his collection dating back to the early 1900s.
“Before then some of them were hand painted, so it’s a little bit harder to use those,” says Patberg.
His vintage china collection was inspired by a bride who was planning a wedding in shades of pink and said she would love to use vintage plates, says Patberg. The collection has continued to grow from there. While pink and white designs still are the most popular color palette for bridal couples choosing their china, Patberg’s favorites are blue and white English transferware. In his personal collection, not including the place settings used for events, he has more than 300 pieces.
“People know I collect them now, so they call me on the phone saying, ‘OK, I have these dishes.’ It’s kind of funny,” says Patberg. “I think some of them look more like a fancy dining room versus ones you would use every day, so that’s how the cut goes. We want ones that look fancy because it’s a wedding, it’s a party.”