Retail Therapy: Wedding aids

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MARRIAGE may be regarded as an outdated institution, but weddings certainly are not. A rise in customer inquiries has prompted Fortnum & Mason to launch a Wedding Service. In classic Fortnum's style, initial discussions with customers will be held over tea rather than in the stockroom. Fortnum's has an 'essentials' wedding list - a guide to items no home should be without. Included on the list are place-card holders, a silver crumb-sweeper, caviare sets and grape scissors.

For those who want something a bit less run-of-the-mill, Fortnum's suggests its specially designed picnic baskets - the two-person basket costing pounds 130 or the six-person luxury basket at pounds 825.

Other suggestions include colourful Laure Japy china (Fortnum's stocks about the most varied range in London) at prices ranging from pounds 33 for a breakfast cup and saucer to pounds 105 for a coffee pot, and, from the antiques department, a needlework cushion costing about pounds 55 or an 18th-century inlaid table for pounds 3,350.

The Wedding Service extends to help with hairdressing, make-up (both of which can be done in the home in central London), stationery printing, cakes, flowers and wines and champagne. The customer can choose to take any part of the service or the whole thing.

According to Sue Lancaster, who runs the service, response has been good. 'Our customers are most likely to be the daughters and nieces of old account customers or people with a family association with Fortnum and Mason, but we also expect to attract young professionals who want something different from Peter Jones or Harrods.'

Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER (071-734 8040, ask for Sue Lancaster).

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