Your bridal shower party could be your one good excuse to indulge. For just a few hours, take a break from fast-paced, efficient, practical modern life—and host a romantic Victorian-inspired tea party! Transport your guests back to that more genteel time and place that came to bear the Queen’s name, England in the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
The prospect may seem overwhelming. But remember that a shower party is usually for an intimate group of 8 to 10. So you can decorate even a cozy nook in your home with Victorian touches, prepare light party fare and lovely guest favors—and you’re ready to be a proper tea party hostess.
Romantic Table Décor with a Victorian Inspiration
It all begins with a table display that immediately evokes an air of romance, the Victorian way. This means lace elements and floral patterns rendered in delicate hues, such as dusty blue and powder pink, set against white. But beyond simply frilly and feminine, the aim is to elevate this look to Victorian-era elegance. And the key to achieving this is the use of period elements and accents. (Hint: You can always borrow items from family members and friends, or chance upon great finds at a flea market!)
Choose a tablecloth in an antique-look fabric, like blue and gold damask. Set out dinnerware with a lacy trim and traditional sterling silver cutlery. For the tea service itself, prepare dainty porcelain ware with pink floral patterns, accompanied by a sterling silver teapot and matching creamer and sugar bowl.
Special Victorian-style finishing touches would be lace liners for the table napkins, lovely fresh roses in crystal vases, and—for a truly stunning statement—a pair of ornate silver candelabra draped with faux pearl strands and satin ribbons.
A Light and Savory Tea Party Menu
Victorian tea party fare is traditionally light, and as pretty to look at as it is delicious! To do justice to your teatime treats, then, continue the frilly and lacy look to the food presentation. Use attractive serving containers like this silver cookie basket with delicate cutwork or doily-lined plates atop antique style urns.
As for the food itself, tea party fare includes a range from savory finger sandwiches to petite pastries and sweets. Treat your guests to a little of both types:
Bite-size tea sandwiches - Prepare light and delicately flavored fillings such as smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg salad, liver paté, watercress, curried chicken salad, and tuna with dill mayonnaise. Serve these in white or wheat bread with the crusts trimmed off and, for a special touch, cut into dainty shapes using a cookie cutter.
Mini cakes, pastries, and cookies – Take your pick from Victorian tea party mainstays, such as scones served with clotted crème and jam, and Jubilee Cake made with Cherries Jubilee (originally used to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1897). Add other irresistible treats like meringue cookies called Victorian Kisses, jam-filled pastries, macaron de Paris, frosted lemon cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, crème puffs, éclairs, and savory tea cookies such as pecan shortbread cookies.
Hint: Don’t hesitate to combine traditional tea party fare with modern menu items. Just keep in mind the key qualities: light, delicately flavored, pretty to look at!
Proper English Teas - and More
Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Black Tea—the names alone almost recreate the distinct flavors and aromas of these fine English teas. To suit every taste, set out a selection of these and other varieties in tea bags, with sugar cubes, cream, and lemon wedges on the side. Have piping hot water ready in an elegant sterling silver teapot, and guests can then choose and brew their own individual cups of tea.
Should you have avid coffee drinkers among your guests, a pot of freshly brewed coffee would be a thoughtful gesture as well. Great choices would be a bold French Roast or a flavorful Italian Roast. And for a special surprise: a small bottle of bubbly champagne to toast the bride-to-be!
Guest Favors that Recall Another Era
It’s only fitting that your guests also come away from this tea party with gifts reminiscent of Victorian England. Beautiful pomander bags or mini tulle purses are some elegant choices. Fill these with fragrant potpourri to serve as stylish drawer or closet sachets at home. Or fill them with nostalgic sweets such as buttermint candies. Another lovely favor idea would be footed porcelain boxes painted with dainty roses and trimmed with gold. Have them hold grown-up treats, like chocolate balls, Jordan almonds, or chewy nougats—irresistible even after that scrumptious tea party menu!
Recommended Books to Plan a Perfect Tea Party
Afternoon Tea Parties (Hardcover) by Susannah Blake (Author)
Scones, Muffins, and Tea Cakes: Breakfast Breads and Teatime Spreads (Hardcover) by Heidi H. Cusick (Author)
Tea with Friends (Hardcover) by Elizabeth Knight
Our suggestions above indeed prove that you can host your own romantic bridal shower tea party. Have any ideas of your own to add? We’d love to hear them!