What does a wild bachelorette weekend in South Beach call to mind for you? How could such a line possibly begin a post on vintage flatware? For me, along with the fussy cabana boys and fun late night poolside cocktails to fete my sister-in-law-to-be, it’s going to be these beautiful pieces of vintage silverplate flatware that take me back to Miami, literally and figuratively. That, and cousin Teresa, who swooped in while we were down south last weekend and took my sister and me on a whirlwind excursion that included lunch alfresco at Joe’s Stone Crab and a vintage shopping adventure like none other.

Unforgettable meals are about fantastic company, delectable food, and ambiance—this meal had it all. We had cousin-talk and laughs and succulent salmon-pink stone crab claws with all the trimmings. The champagne and green vintage glasses were brought along in a pretty little satchel from which Teresa kept pulling delights for us like Mary Poppins herself. This girl could author a how-to guide on making cousins feel special.

After lunch we went to an antique fair that is a regular thing down there, every other week in season vendors come from all over with their wares. Our exploration was a feast that could compete with the lunch we’d just devoured: vintage Chanel clothes, handbags a-plenty, a silver cuff bracelet with rose quartz cabochon I wish I’d splurged on. But the best of it was the tableware, the silverplate that came so cheap it made me wonder if something was wrong, knowing how pricey the new—albeit matching—stuff is. My sister bought a couple of serving pieces at $25 each and Teresa clicked her tongue as she moved us along to other vendors selling similar stuff for $1, $4 per piece. You barely needed to sort through it to grab beauties.

Sometimes you don’t want everything to be all matchy-matchy, and that same sentiment can hold true at the table. Mixed media can be so lovely. Try a day antiquing somewhere to see what you can find; I’m just sorry you won’t have Teresa with you. She knew the primo vendors and took us directly to them, no dilly-dallying at lesser stalls. The antiquing runs deep in the family, with many of my aunts on both sides of the family with stellar credentials, and of course my mother too.

You can also buy vintage flatware online. I like it by the pound here, where they remind you that you can cheaply outfit a gorgeous table for a big party without going plastic.

Some cousins, upon reading this, will think me a braggart of the whole situation, and they will be quite right about that.

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