Last Updated: Feb 10, 2017
As maid of honor, you’re eager to host a bridal shower that lives up to your best friend’s dreams. A bride-to-be who considers herself a romantic and cherishes time spent with her friends is going to be honored by a tea party bridal shower.
The tea party is so versatile a theme that it is at once timeless and whimsical – depending on the direction you take it.
“A classic tea party never goes out of style and will make all generations feel comfortable and welcome,” says luxury wedding planner Sara Fried of Fête Nashville.
Did you know that the ceremony surrounding tea dates back to ancient China? And of course the Brits made a custom of drinking tea in the 1600s. It’s these roots that make a tea party a truly classy affair.
Meanwhile, thanks to Alice and her friend the Mad Hatter, a tea party can push boundaries and make room for the host to play with fanciful details. A tea party is marked by a mix-and-match flair that marries the classic and the modern.
“There are so many variables, including the venue you choose, the color palette, and the menu, that can make the party more traditional, vintage or contemporary,” Sara says, explaining the many factors contributing to the flexibility of the tea party theme. “The most important aspects of the party are a fun group of friends and really great food and beverages!”
In this guide to hosting a tea party bridal shower, we consult with our wedding planner Sara to bring you everything you need to know about:
Food to Serve at a Tea Party
Did you know that a tea party is traditionally held in the late afternoon? But true to form, the tea party is flexible.
“If you are going to be serving elaborate food and beverages that could substitute for a meal, brunch or lunchtime is appropriate as well.”
Traditional English afternoon tea fare includes three things: sandwiches, scones and cakes or teacakes. Biscuits, or cookies as they’re called in the U.S., pastries and petit fours can also make appearances in the spread. Of course, the beauty of the tea party is that rules can be used or dismissed as needed, so don’t feel like you have to strictly adhere to tradition to have a fabulous food selection.
How many are you serving? Sara says tea parties are usually intimate and best kept at under 30 people. Of course, the guest list may be out of your hands. Regardless, expect your guests to come hungry.
“Foods are mini and bite size, from simple cucumber sandwiches and deviled eggs to elaborate petit-fours and carved out vegetables. The more choices the better, and be prepared with extras as guests will want to sample everything,” says Sara.
Sara suggests taking time to research some companies that sell locally made jams. A visit to your local farmers market is never a bad idea for fresh fruit, baked goods and florals.
“Lots of tiny savory sandwiches, fresh fruits, pickled vegetables, and tons of sweets. Warm scones, clotted cream (tastes much better than it sounds!) and homemade jams are staples and expected at a tea.”
Certainly tea will have its place at the fête.
“Traditional tea parties present mini sweets and savories on three-tiered serving pieces and have a variety of teas for tasting,” says Sara.
A well-rounded selection will include Earl Grey and English Breakfast, peppermint and herbal, chamomile and fruit teas. Sugar and milk should be made available for guests.
In warm weather, think of serving iced tea. For a boozy beverage, create a cocktail of tea infused with fresh cut fruit and mint, a dash of lemon juice, and citrus liqueur. Brew and prepare it the day before to be served over ice with slices of fresh fruit and mint sprigs.
SEO file name: pink-party-spread. Alt: meringues and cupcakes with roses. Caption: “A classic tea party color scheme would take nods from the tea sets you are using; some have patterns – blue and white are popular and of course, classic pastels with pinks, greens and blues and lots of gold trim,” says wedding planner Sara Fried of Fête Nashville.
Décor and Decorations
It’s our humble opinion that fresh flowers are a must at tea parties. Flowers everywhere, if you please, in teapots and tea saucers and in any assortment of vases and glassware.
“Our favorite centerpieces are created using mix-and-match porcelain pitchers filled with wild garden flowers in the centerpiece and fresh flowers and petals strewn around. Although a tea party can be a formal affair, the garden-inspired décor should be more like flowers found in nature — a little wild and unexpected,” Sara says.
A tea party is the occasion to mix and match old and new looks, so use traditional motifs like the teacup and saucer in creative combinations.
Try creating towers with an upside-down teacup base, a saucer and a right-side up teacup, secured together with museum wax. Perch flowers on saucer edges. In the open cup at the top, alternate between flowers and tea candles. A collection of three of these teacup towers at various heights will make a beautiful centerpiece vignette. Intersperse towers between the madeleine cookies and finger sandwiches to add visual interest to the spread.
Where can you get teacups? Check flea markets, second-hand stores and rental companies, or how special if the bride’s family (and soon-to-be in-laws) can loan you pieces for the party? While you’re looking for teacups, keep an eye out for handkerchiefs in eye-catching patterns and colors. Use these as an accent in table settings or placed side by side instead of a table runner for a quilt-work design. Look online for how to make paper doily garlands to drape — so easy to make and yet so shabby-chic.
Party favors are an opportunity to add your signature to the party. We’ve seen hosts present guests with mix-your-own sachets of tea to take home.
Sara suggests centerpieces made of individual bud vases with singular flowers or small bunches that double as favors for the guests.
Another beautiful idea from Fête Nashville: “We love to have fresh floral garland head pieces for all the guests to wear!” Talk about romantic.
As for what to give to the guest of honor? Take note of our tips for what to write in a special note to the bride-to-be. The loving attention and time you present by planning and hosting the bridal shower will be felt by your friend, and a warm card is your opportunity to say what you feel in your heart.
Tea Party Bridal Shower Invitations
The invitation you choose will introduce the tea party theme, along with the design and mood. With input from Sara Fried, luxury wedding planner at Fête Nashville, here’s a showcase of our favorite bridal shower tea party invitations.
Perfect Floral Bridal Shower Invitation
Part whimsical, part feminine, Perfect Floral is a classic tea party invite that lovingly features a photo of the guest of honor. Sara suggests including photos throughout party decorations. “It’s fun to incorporate photos of the bride (baby pics!) and photos with her fiancé as well at the party in frames that match the décor.” One of the advantages to this invitation is that it lends itself to a range of design motifs — casual, light and a touch rustic with its natural textures.
Welcome guests to a lovely garden tea party with Perfect Floral.
Blooming Hydrangea Bridal Shower Invitation
Full-blooming blue and white hydrangeas are the ultimate in romance. Featured in this invitation design by Éclair Paper Company, dramatic hydrangeas hold enduring, classic elegance and set a beautiful stage for the affair to come.
Order Blooming Hydrangea if a timeless tea party bridal shower invitation is a match for your beloved bride-to-be.
Watercolor Perfection Bridal Shower Invitation
The bride-to-be is the star of this delicate invitation designed by Yours Truly. A floral wreath wraps your favorite photo of her, and the scalloped edge, while not your only trim option, adds to the soft femininity of this bridal shower invitation.
Start the party with Watercolor Perfection and get ready to shower your favorite bestie bride.
Charming Teapot Bridal Shower Invitation
The name of this invitation says it all. If your guest of honor will appreciate the playful charm a tea party provides, choose this Blonde Designs teapot bridal shower invitation, available in blue and pink color schemes. We love this design for an Alice in Wonderland inspired bridal shower or shabby-chic motif.
Invite guests to your whimsical event with the Charming Teapot bridal shower invitation.
Ornamental Elegance Bridal Shower Invitation
If your tea party bridal shower is an occasion to indulge in the luxuries of being a woman, your invitation could call for formal elegance. Opt for a sophisticated invitation with script and serif on classic navy or grey by Tag & Co. Ornamental Elegance is a mature invitation that echoes the lace that will decorate your tea party tablescape — and hints at the future bride’s wedding dress.
Select Ornamental Elegance to set the table for a grown-up tea party.
Bridal Blooms Bridal Shower Invitation
As though scattered with fresh herbs and tea leaves, the bold color palette of the Bridal Blooms bridal shower invitation reminds us of spring. This stationery mixes traditional and modern as designer Tag & Co. takes a hand-crafted approach to botanical illustration. Eucalyptus, succulent and jewel-toned florals come to life.
Go with Bridal Blooms if you’re planning to decorate with the bright-colored blossoms of spring or summer at your tea party table.
Browse Bridal Shower Invitation Designs
As tea time approaches, find the perfect invitation for the bridal shower you’re planning. Browse the selection of easy-to-use, designer-made bridal shower invitation templates from Shutterfly®.