There’s something so charming about a cup of tea, isn’t there? I’m not much of a tea (or coffee) drinker myself on a daily basis, but I live in a country where tea is a RELIGION. (Seriously. Anytime anything happens – good news, bad news, a big storyline on Eastenders – the British reaction is to boil up a cuppa. The story goes that in the advertising break immediately following Colin Firth’s shirtless emergence from a lake in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, so many women put on the kettle that it caused a power surge.) So maybe it’s the comfort, or the prim Britishness of it, or the fact that in a Starbucks kinda world there’s something incredibly pretty and nostalgic about a porcelain cup and saucer. Or maybe it’s the sense of occasion that a tea party creates, or the way it harks back to our childhoods and to stories like Alice in Wonderland. Whatever the reason, the tea party as a theme is big news in weddings and bridal showers right now. It fits beautifully into the vintage trend, whether it be a glamorous 1920s-style high tea or a 1940s tea dance, or just a collection of lovely cups and saucers as part of the decor. An afternoon tea and cake reception can be a great way of saving money, and setting up a tea bar and serving Ritz-style finger sandwiches and scones can be a fun way to amuse guests during cocktail hour and make the most of a dessert bar. Plus, tea parties make great bridal showers. But where to start with decor? Here are some of my recent favourite images and DIYs from around the web.
Sources (clockwise from top left): Teacup with roses; white teapot vase; teapot with tulips; stacked teapot and cup; oversize teacup arrangement; soft floral teapot arrangement; stacked teacup arrangement
It has to be said, I love these arrangements. Whimsical isn’t even the word. And I love how teapots can be used just as well as teacups. For a cost-conscious or DIY bride, sourcing these pretty vessels may be time consuming but it’s sure to be budget friendly! And just think of the collection you’ll get to keep after the wedding! My favourite idea is the stacked teacups – if you do this you may want to consider stacking three or so cups and saucers and gluing them together so they don’t topple.
But the floral possibilities don’t end with teacups and pots – tea tins and caddies are the latest addition and make such pretty decor elements. The aim is definitely not to be too matchy – check out your local antique shop to see what you can find, and beg, borrow and steal from friends and family.
Let them eat cake
Where there’s tea there must be cake, and teacups make the most charming cake toppers. Fill them with fresh flowers or create a cascade of spoons (how much do I love this idea?!). Another idea I came across is the idea of serving your guests cupcake in teacups. So. Freaking. Adorable!
Table settings, escort cards and favours
Teacups also make great favours if used either as part of the place setting or as a way of escorting guests to their seat. Pop little teabags or gifts in each cup and write guests’ names on the tag – you can tie this to the handles and also write the table number on each label if you’re using them as escort cards. Again, you can have a great time sourcing the cups and saucers, and the mismatched collection would look so pretty on a shabby chic table with pretty flowers and fabrics (this works brilliantly for a shower as well). Or you could do like one shower hostess did and paint each person’s name directly on the cup.
Another gorgeous idea (and a DIY I’m dying to try!) is teacup candles:
The internet is full of tutorials, but here are two that might help you:
If you do decide to make pretty labels for teabags (or handmade teabags themselves), there have also been some pretty precedents:
I’d especially love to see South African brides get even more creative and local. Attach fun quotes to your tea favours (there are some wonderful tea quotes in the Alexander McCall Smith Number One Ladies Detective Agency novels) or give guests rooibos tea favours or homemade rusks (and if you’re talented in the rusk department, please send me some too, because I MISS THEM! ;) )
And now for something completely different…
If you’re after something a little less twee village fete and more avant garde or mad hatter, these are my favourite ideas. I’m completely in love with that tea cup tree! And how pretty is the chandelier? Incidentally, if you’re after ready-made decor like this in Cape Town, you can find it at Towerbosch (Knorhoek) and in the restaurant at La Motte.
And this roundup wouldn’t have been complete unless I’d included that pic from the amazing Simply Bloom Photography’s oversized teacup shoot! LOVE LOVE LOVE. I would seriously kill to see someone reproduce this idea!
So here’s to tea party decor and all its many possibilities. Pinkies up!