Looking for a chic and elegant way to celebrate the bride-to-be? There’s a reason tea party-themed bridal showers are such a popular and timeless choice; There's nothing quite like the clinking of teacups and the delicate aroma of freshly brewed tea to set the mood for a memorable event. It also lends itself to personalization so each one can feel fresh and unique.
In this post, we cover everything from decor to menu planning to games and activities. So, whether you're an afternoon tea regular or a novice, we'll help you think through key aspects of planning the perfect tea party-themed shower that’ll leave everyone dazzled.
Choose your tea party "genre" & send invitations
When it comes to hosting a tea party bridal shower, the first step is to choose a theme within the tea party genre that sets the tone for the event. Whether you opt for a classic English garden party or a whimsical Alice in Wonderland-inspired affair, the theme will help guide your decorations, menu, and overall ambiance. To help guide your decision, consider the bride-to-be's personal style and preferences.
Once you've settled on a theme, it's time to create the invitation which should reflect the tone and theme of the tea party. It should also convey details like whether you’d like guests to participate in the spirit of the shower by dressing up. Mentioning “tea party attire” or referencing the Bridgerton show ought to convey the message. Keep in mind that bridal shower invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the events to give guests plenty of time to RSVP and make travel arrangements.
Decide who will participate in + emcee the event
The bridal shower is a great opportunity to bring the important people in the bride’s life together. In the early stages of the planning process, consider involving the bridal party in helping to shower the bride with love. Some may be eager to offer support with decorations and set up, while others may want to give a toast or prepare a special dessert. As the host, you get to choose if you want others to take on responsibilities–but there’s no reason not to share the responsibilities with eager participants–plus, it could actually be a fun bonding experience!
Tea party-themed bridal shower décor
When it comes to setting the table and outfitting the venue for your tea party-themed bridal shower, we recommend starting with these basics and layering as you see fit:
For the table:
- Tablecloth and table runner that complements the tea party vibe you’re hoping to achieve
- Decorative napkins that can be playfully folded for an extra touch of charm
- Vintage china place settings, mis-matched or matching.
- If you have your heart set on a vintage china aesthetic, check if your rental or catering company will supply the china. If not, it’s best to start gathering and asking around well-in advance.
- Centerpieces incorporating vintage china and flowers are always a hit.
- Arranging flowers in vintage vases or repurposed teapots and teacups will further enhance the tea party theme.
- Scented teacup candles also make excellent table accents, even when they’re not burning during the event.
- Tea party-themed props like fascinators (hats), parasols, vintage books and strings of pearls draped on various items around the venue help evoke a sophisticated yet playful ambiance that’s perfect for spilling the tea among friends.
A sentimental touch: incorporating the family china into the tea party-themed shower
Add a heartwarming touch to the tea party shower by incorporating the bride’s family china into the table setting or by using pieces collected from various friends and relatives. Another idea to consider is upcycling the family china on behalf of the bride to incorporate into special serving trays or centerpieces. This can also include china from the groom/partner’’s family, which has the beautiful symbolism of blending two families. (P.S. upcycled china can totally double as a “something old, something new” for the big day!)
For more ideas on how to incorporate vintage and upcycled items into your next event, see our post 10 ideas for adding vintage decor to your wedding
Tea Party Bridal Shower Menu
Creating a scrumptious menu where everyone leaves satisfied is key to hosting any successful event. At most tea parties, there will be a selection of both savory and sweet bites to satisfy everyone’s appetite.
If you’re going for a traditional afternoon tea menu, we recommend serving the following on a classic 3-tier serving tray to artfully present the menu and distinguish between courses.
- First course of finger sandwiches, pinwheels and bite-sized savory bites.
- Second, you’d have a selection of scones with jam and clotted cream
- Finally, you’d arrange a medley of delectable sweets like petit fours and french macarons.
Based on your budget and how extravagant the menu is, plan to research and hire a local caterer at least a couple of months in advance. If you’re handling the food, do yourself a favor and plot out a timeline for when to shop for ingredients and supplies, food prep, cook, and when to plate/serve food on the day-of to ensure a smooth event. What’s great about most tea party food is that much of it can be made ahead of time. Still, it’s a lot of work and requires pre-planning to run smoothly.
Tea pairings with your bridal shower menu:
You’re hosting a tea party afterall, so you’ll want to carefully select teas that complement the flavors in your menu items. For a primer on what goes well with different types of tea, check out our blog post on food and tea pairings. Alternatively, take a peek at the above “cheat sheet" we adapted from certified tea master and author of The Tea Curator, Anna Kydd.
In addition to selecting appropriate teas to pair with your menu, you’ll want to appoint someone to be in charge of replenishing hot water in the teapots; The last thing you want is to run out of tea at a tea party! According to Sugar and Charm founder, Eden Passante, in a Brides.com article on tea party etiquette, “Keeping hot water in each kettle is a job! They need to be refilled constantly.”
Passante recommends investing in an electric tea kettle that can swiftly produce hot water in under a minute and then refilling individual kettles on the table as needed. She also advises that one person, either a friend or someone you hire, be dedicated to making sure food is replenished and another person be responsible for refilling the boiling water.
Jasmine tea cocktail in a mint green fine china teacup
Signature sips: Cocktails and mocktails
Personalize the bridal tea party celebration by choosing a specialty cocktail that reflects the bride or couple’s personality or preferences. These lively concoctions act as conversation starters and could even be used to preview the main event to come. Crafting creative names for your signature cocktails and mocktails that tie into the theme offers yet another playful touch to the event.
Teacup Stand used to serve cocktail garnishes, including limes, cherries and olives
Your choice of presentation for beverages can truly enhance the tea party theme, making it more memorable and leaving a lasting impression on your guests. Step up your game by creatively showcasing bar accessories like cocktail napkins, bottle openers, and garnishes. For instance, consider displaying garnishes or toppings in charming teacups or on a teacup stand for an extra dose of whimsy and delight.
“Guess how many kisses” bridal shower game. Special touches include a picture of the bride and her sisters as children. A unique teacup stand is used to hold pens and raffle entries.
Crowd favorites: Bridal shower games & activities
The mark of a successful bridal shower, aside from making the bride feel happy and loved, is to give guests the opportunity to connect with other important folks in the bride's life and discover something new about the couple. All the games and activities should be about getting guests excited to celebrate the couple, break the ice, and have a good time at the wedding.
If you're wondering how to get a bunch of relative strangers to connect and feel comfortable with each other in just a few hours, don't worry! We've got some ideas that everyone can get behind. Here are a few that are known to spark laughter and conversation:
Photo ℅ Sarah Berge of Top Knots and My Thoughts
1. Firsts presentation: One of our favorite bridal shower events is what’s called the presentation of “firsts” whereby each member of the bridal party presents a bottle of wine/champagne to the bride during the event. For each bottle, the bride’s loved one chooses an experience that the couple will likely encounter in their relationship, ranging from serious, silly, or sweet, from “first anniversary” to “first fight” and writes a small toast or poem. If it’s a large bridal party, consider circulating a spreadsheet for people to sign up well in advance so everyone knows who’s covering what milestone.
Bride looks surprised at their difference in opinion over a particular question.
2. Wedding shoe game: How it works–the couple sits back to back in front of the room of guests. The bride holds one of her shoes and one of her partners’ and vice versa. The host or emcee asks questions like “who’s more likely to steal the covers on a cold night?” If the bride thinks this describes her and not her partner, she raises her shoe. If the groom also thinks this describes her, he would raise her shoe. When there is disagreement is where the same gets fun and can result in a lot of laughter and impromptu storytelling by the couple.
To turn this into a game, give the guests a chance to guess the “correct” answer ahead of time. The person with the most correct answers wins.
3. “Guess her age in the photo” & “guess how many kisses”:
Let guests guess the ages of the bride in a series of pictures from the bride and couple’s past, from early childhood to recent. If you want another guessing game, a cute one that requires little prep (but a lot of chocolate kisses) is “guess how many kisses.”
For both games, have guests write down their guesses and place the paper with their responses into a bowl. Whoever guesses the most correctly wins. Make things intersting with a fun, tea party-themed prize.
4. Favorite date night activities:
Get all the guests involved in the shower – leave out date night cards for them to write down their favorite activities and experiences with their plus ones.
Visit The Knot or Brides.com for more bridal shower games and entertainment ideas.
Opening gifts at the bridal shower
The ritual of opening gifts at a bridal shower followed by someone fabricating a hat/bridal bouquet out of the bows and ribbons used to be the norm. With the rise of online registries, where the couple already knows what was purchased for them, it’s become less customary.
We recommend asking the bride what she’d like to do–if she’s not interested or ambivalent about opening gifts with her guests, skip it! If she is, make sure to set aside a chunk of time from the event that can be dedicated to unboxing/unwrapping–and make sure the libations are flowing in advance!
Our two cents? Watching someone open gifts isn’t that fun, can put the bride in an awkward spot and can take a lot of time away from the party, especially when there's a large group. We recommend using the time to mix and mingle or extend the length of your shower games!
Flower arrangements in vintage teacups and teacup stands can double as table decor and favors for guests to take home!
Tea party-themed bridal shower favors
Party favors that are thoughtfully chosen to echo the shower theme are a lovely way to express gratitude for your guests' attendance. Here are a few favor-ite keepsakes to add a final layer of thoughtfulness and appreciation to your tea party event:
- Vintage teacups and saucers
- Vintage teacup planters
- Personalized tea bags w custom hang tags
- Tea infusers with loose leaf tea
- Tea towels
- Decorated tea party-themed sugar cookies
- Jars of honey or jam
- Petite boxes of french macarons
- Artisanal sugar cubes (that come in shapes like hearts & butterflies)
These tokens of appreciation will leave a lasting impression, ensuring that your guests will enjoy the memories from your event long after the last sip of tea has been savored.
Finishing flourishes for your tea party themed bridal shower:
It's often the finishing touches that transform a gathering into an unforgettable experience. As you wrap-up preparations for hosting your tea party-themed bridal shower, here are four additional ideas to add extra oomph and personality to your event:
1. Tea party-themed photo backdrop: Enhance the theme for your guests with a captivating event backdrop, such as a charming flower wall or a festive tea party-themed banner. This serves as the ideal spot for taking memorable photos with the bride. It can also double as a photobooth-style area for photo-worthy shenanigans.
To add an extra dose of whimsy, provide themed props like fascinator hats, lace parasols, tea cups, elegant white gloves, and strands of pearl necklaces. Consider acquiring a polaroid camera and writing a little sign prompting guests to to strike a pose and the leave the pics behind for the bride to enjoy after the event.
2. Teacup napkin bows: Picture this: dainty teacups, each adorned with a unique personality, poised to charm your guests. Now, take it up a notch by using a napkin to tie an elegant bow around the handle of each teacup. This simple yet enchanting detail not only adds an extra layer of sophistication but also ensures that every guest feels like royalty before they sit down for tea.
3. Create face confetti featuring the bride and groom, then playfully scatter it across the bar, gift table, or any spot you want to add extra excitement. This whimsical touch provides a playful contrast to the standard prim and proper tea party decor, that's for sure.
Antique, silver-plated spoons with decorative handles
℅ BlueRhinoCo shop on Etsy
4. Vintage spoons: Lastly, consider adding a timeless touch to your dessert/coffee station with antique, silver-plated spoons. You can find them easily and inexpensively on marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay. Display them in an antique cream pitcher or large sugar bowl for an added flourish to your tea party theme.
Planning a tea party bridal shower can be overwhelming, but it can also be rewarding and enjoyable with preparation, creativity, and support from the bridal party. My best advice is to start with the basics and focus on what matters most to the bride. Then, build on those ideas. With these suggestions in mind, anticipate an afternoon filled with laughter and conversation over tea and delightful treats. I hope your event is a wild success, creating many moments for the bride and your guests to cherish for years to come.