Afternoon Tea Party Wedding Reception

Your wedding reception  is likely to be the most expensive part of your wedding day so it’s important to start planning early! Popular venues and caterers will get booked quickly, particularly on Saturdays during the peak wedding months of May to September.

Depending on your budget, you can choose anything from a buffet catered for at home by friends and family to hiring outside caterers for a church or village hall or a marquee in the garden, to a formal sit-down meal at a hotel.

An Afternoon Tea Party reception is a lovely way to make your wedding day unique and stylish while fitting in with any sized budget.

If you choose this option in a hotel, sample the food that will be offered in advance. Many hotels can offer a delightful Afternoon Tea style package and although many don’t have their own vintage china, they are happy for you to hire in or bring some of your own things to make your tables look really pretty!

If you choose to book a church or village hall or marquee you will have free reign over the styling. For a pretty Afternoon Tea Party look, use vintage tablecloths and vintage china along with bunting and informal flower arrangements in jars. If you can involve friends and family, there are lots of things that can be beautifully handmade such as bunting, wedding favours, invitations, name place cards, favours and other decorations such as hanging hearts or lanterns. You can also make your own table planner / seating plan. Pinterest is a great place to find lots of inspiration and you can create your own boards to plan all your wedding ideas!

If you have friends and family who are happy to bake something and bring it along it can cut down on costs or you could ask a caterer to provide the basic items and just bake your own cupcakes to match your theme.

A sweet table / dessert table is a lovely way to make your venue look unique and pretty while keeping the budget down and not overloading the tables. You could hire or buy just enough vintage china to dress one table and fill it with sweets, cupcakes, macaroons, decorated cookies and mini meringues – all to match your wedding theme.

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Wedding Styling Ideas:

Vintage typewriter for guests to leave messages instead of a guest book;

Vintage birdcages with church candles or filled with flowers;

Vintage wire baskets for cards (with a label tied on with a ribbon);

Vintage tea tins for floral display;

Vintage jam jars with tea lights (tied with raffia or tied with jute and hung);

Vintage picture frames grouped together as a table planner (could be displayed on a set of vintage ladders);

Vintage candlesticks;

Wedding cake stand decorated with roses and pearls;

Linen napkins tied with ribbon threaded with luggage tags;

Wedding menu attached to a vintage bottle;

Flowers massed in large zinc tubs and jugs;

Wedding Favours – small lavender pillows made with ticking or vintage linen featuring a strip of tape embroidered with the initials of the bride and groom;

Named place cards with pressed flowers using the Victorian Language of flowers;

My Top Tips as featured in ‘ Your Hampshire and Dorset Wedding’ magazine :-

·        Serve a Cream Tea with home-made scones and cream;

·        Mini cupcakes in china teacups at each place setting make great wedding favours;

·        Make your own bunting from oddments of fabric;

·        Buy vintage crockery from car boot sales and sell it afterwards;

·        Display little posies of country flowers in tea cups;

·        Create your own sweet shop – sweets can be bought in large bags and displayed in jars on some painted shelving;

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Wild flowers and herbs…

are a truly romantic and fragrant alternative to shower the bridal couple and decorate tables, fill beautiful bowls with a colourful mix or give out as wedding favours. You can also sprinkle a pinch of wedding herb into bridal shower or wedding invitations and thank-you notes.

Messages for Wildflower Herbal Wedding Confetti in the Victorian Tradition of the Language of Flowers:-

Rose petals symbolize undying Love; Lavender – Devotion; Rosemary – Remembrance; Larkspur – Levity; Chamomile – Patience in Adversity; Jasmine – Confidence; Marjoram – Joy and Happiness; Pansy – Happy Thoughts; Thyme – Strength and Courage; Sage – Long Life and Good Health; Myrtle – True Love; Ivy – Fidelity, Sweet Basil – Good Wishes; Angelica – Protection; Violets – Faithfulness; Globe Amaranth – Unfading Love; Mint – Virtue.

In ancient Greece brides entwined Rosemary with Myrtle and Hawthorne to style their bridal crowns. Myrtle was the herb of the goddess of love, Venus. She used this herb’s blossoms to make crowns and garlands for her followers to wear.

The Roman bride and groom were given a bough of heart shaped ivy leaves and trailing stems of ivy during the wedding ceremony.

Marjoram was woven into the crowns and nosegays of the bride and her attendants by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Traditionally, pieces of the bridal bouquet were planted ready for the next wedding.

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An engagement ring marks the modern betrothal. From the Elizabethan period and earlier the gimmal ring, breaking into three parts – one for the woman, one for the man, one for the witness – and reunited later as the wedding ring, was well liked. Gemmed rings were not usual: gold or silver, perhaps twisted into a lovers ‘ knot, were chosen, and not until the 19th century exploitation of South African diamond deposits did white diamonds ( of apposite durability: ‘diamonds are forever’ say the jewellers: diamond comes from the Greek adamas, ‘inpenetrably hard’) become both cheap and popular. In the 18th and 19th centuries precious stones whose initial letters spelled such words as ‘dearest’ (diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, epidote, sapphire, turqoise), ‘love me’ (lapis-lazuli, opal, verd antique, emerald, moonstone, epidote) or in France ‘regard’, souvenir’ or ‘amitie’ made popular rings, still sought after in antique shops. The fiance’s birthstone is a luck bringer in an engagement ring. Birthstones vary from country to country, but common dedications are:

January – garnet, February – amethyst, March – bloodstone

April – diamond, May – emerald, June – agate, pearl

July – ruby, August – sardonyx,  September – sapphire

October – Opal, November – topaz, December – turqoise

Taken from Wedding Customs & Folklore   by Margaret Baker   1977

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For lots of lovely vintage wedding inspiration:-



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