Happily Ever After

Tea Party To Go Serves a Wedding or Shower Well

Feb 22, 2019

Adding a touch of traditional elegance, Tea Party To Go provides tea party catering and tea event planning, fine china rentals and tablescaping to a wedding event or bridal shower. Founders Natercia Clanton and her husband, Bill, combine their complementary talents in this company that is unique to the LBI region.

They are skilled at bringing the sophistication of an afternoon tea party to a segment of the wedding weekend. A client’s guests can enjoy savory tea sandwiches and sweet homemade scones with fresh clotted cream and jam while sipping tea from a delicate cup, while a pianist accompanies in the background. All sorts of variations on Victorian themes can be catered to the client’s tastes.

Some need only to rent the china for their own party; one hostess at a christening wanted the food catered but didn’t need the dishes. Others have the couple and their staff come in and set up and present a whole catered occasion.

Bill and Natercia each already ran successful businesses – WBNJ-FM radio, and Natty Cleans – before they started this enterprise, which they run together for fun. The venture started when a friend of Natercia wanted to borrow from her collection of teapots and cups and saucers to embellish a party. The second time she asked became “a light bulb moment,” as Bill recalled with a laugh – they could expand this into a business.

They researched and brought their love of tea and fine china together. And soon Bill’s extraordinary dessert baking skill found a professional outlet as well. Also, vintage props and party décor are the newest division, rented under a branch called The Vintage Valise.

Searched out and sourced from “treasure hunts,” their tea service, plates, crystal stemware and accessories can serve from 16 to 150 guests. The Tea Party To Go collection includes rare and antique pieces from such names as Wedgwood, Schwarzburg, Keystone, Crown Dorset and Wawel, to name a few.

“Tea Party To Go is prepared to bring your next event to the next level with all the etiquette and tradition of an English tea,” introduces the website. “Our parties are designed to be a throwback to a time when a piping hot cup of tea in some of the finest china was celebrated.”

Talk to them about what you’re looking for, and Tea Party To Go can customize. Active members of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, they have a booth at the upcoming Wedding Road Show and Party Planning Tour.

“Consultation and communication is probably the most important aspect of what we do” Bill Clanton said, “because not every tea party is the same. We’re not going to cookie-cutter it.”

Added Natercia Clanton, “Our goal, what makes us so different, is the feeling that you have when you see the things that are vintage and are beautiful and well made.” Natercia is from Portugal, where tea time is a welcome ritual.

Here, memories are made by the special occasion of a tea party. Consider the example of clients Jessica and Nicholas Zsoldos. On the morning of their wedding, Tea Party To Go set the mood for the special occasion.

“To the surprise of the bride and bride’s maids, they awoke to find a delicious bridal breakfast tea party prepared by Tea Party To Go,” describes the blog on the company website. “This special tea was set to the backdrop of our collection of fine china and delicious treats. Like a page from a fairy tale or a scene out of ‘Downton Abbey,’ this one-of-a-kind experience really made not only the bride, but the bride’s maids also feel special.

“The menu featured Harney & Sons ‘Wedding’ and ‘Paris’ teas, mini-quiche, hazelnut chocolate pancake bites, traditional English scones, blueberry and pumpkin scones, lemon/lavender shortbread cookies, and the Portuguese sponge cake centerpiece with fresh whipped cream and peach preserves.

“The entire bridal party was able to enjoy these treats both before and after the ceremony.”

The delicacies mentioned are among Bill Clanton’s specialties. French macarons, the ingredients weighed on a scale rather than measured by volume, are another. A perfectionist, Bill confided that learning the advanced art of making macarons took patience. “You don’t know how many batches ended up in my trash can.” But now he’s got the process perfected, and in fact made the macarons that accompanied a recent wine tasting and movie screening.

Authentic Devonshire, England-style clotted cream and jam add a mouthwatering finish to his fresh-made scones. That, too, is a find for which you’d have to look far and wide.

“It’s one ingredient to make it: cream, that’s it,” as Bill summarized the procedure. “Because we make it from scratch, it becomes about an 18-hour process. Ten of those hours are spent in the oven, and eight of the hours are in the refrigerator.”

Baked slowly at a low temperature, the cream forms a clot that is skimmed off before refrigeration. Just before it’s about to be served, it is whipped so it will spread more easily than even smooth butter. The whey that is left when the clotted cream is skimmed is used instead of milk in the scone recipe “That gives our scones our signature flavor,” Bill advised.

No sugar is necessary in clotted cream. “The cream has a little bit of a nutty flavor and has the natural sweetness of the cream itself, and with a dollop of jam on top of it there’s your sweet flavor. The two together are heavenly,” Bill and Natercia finished each other’s descriptive phrases. “and when you’re cooking anything that’s creamy, it kind of caramelizes.”

It’s easy to see how conversation flows around all of the elements of a Tea Party To Go catered event. A hostess at a private party can be satisfied that guests are captivated and engaged.

Once in a while, an occasion becomes memorable in the Clantons’ experience for how they were able to fill an unexpected gap. Bill related, “We did a big bridal shower back in September that was fantastic.” He added, “At the very last minute the maid of honor comes to me and says, ‘Something went wrong; we don’t have the sheet cake that we ordered.’”

They had been contracted for only minimal desserts to go with the cake, which was to be supplied by another vendor. But they had brought extra supplies just in case, and they had the use of a kitchen onsite. They had no problem helping the clients out; it just took some creative hustle.

“So there I was in the kitchen whipping up the desserts. I brought enough ingredients with me to whip up enough desserts to where we filled a nice Viennese table filled with everything from little strawberry shortcakes with the Portuguese pound cake that we make as a base, to shortbread cookies, to other cakes, and mousse and others.”

Background music can be provided, by either digital means or live keyboard performance. Son William Clanton Jr. has been a talented pianist since a young age, and Dennis Linde has had keyboard engagements all over Long Beach Island for years. “Music sets the mood; it’s so important. It’s all about the experience,” Bill noted.

Enter The Vintage Valise for more mood-setting items that make up the experience. It’s a new, separate offering through the parent company, Natty’s Events and Catering.

See the website vintagevalise.com for rentals of china and tablescaping décor, serving equipment, and vintage Victorian or Bohemian props for, say, a photo booth activity at the party.

“So, if we want to set the stage for an event with that vintage flair, we’re able to set up the furniture; we’re able to able to bring in different pieces like an antique radio,” Bill said. Ambience can complete the experience. “Some of the vintage items that we have are able to create that, a step back in time.”

For more information call 609-891-0512 or see the website teapartytogo.com.

“The unique thing is we’re the only company providing this type of service in the LBI region.”

— Maria Scandale

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