Go Shabby Chic: An Afternoon Tea Party with the Bridesmaids

Vintage tea party table setting

The vintage look for weddings seems to have evolved into a mini classic all its own! And with it, the tea party continues to be a much-loved theme. We have to admit, though, we can’t all be collectors of vintage treasures. So how do you get that charming, shabby chic look? To put it bluntly: you thrift, you borrow, or (dare we say it?) you fake it! So rummage through that family attic or china cupboard, scour neighborhood yard sales and thrift stores, visit your favorite craft supply and home ware outlets. Finally, search online. You’ll be amazed at what you can pull together to simulate your own vintage tea party scene with these basic elements—both real and faux:

Vintage tea party table setting

1. Feminine and frilly linens – It all begins with an overall cozy, intimate ambiance created by table linens from a bygone era (or their contemporary lookalikes). Think lace table cloths and runners, crocheted doilies, embroidered handkerchiefs, and floral-print tea towels. Even paper doilies make sweet accents.

2. Dainty china, tea cups, and glass wareMismatched pieces can actually be very charming. So don’t worry about finding complete sets of anything. Pastel-colored plates, porcelain cups and saucers, Depression glass dishes and vases, hobnail or milk glass vessels, tinted sorbet cups—any of these would make such pretty additions to your tea tables. Remember, new is fine, too, as long as it looks vintage!

3. Pastel florals
– Whether freshly plucked from your garden or grabbed from the Farmers Market, flowers will always work magic on any party scene. So again feel free to mix and match whatever blooms are in season. Just keep them within a generally pastel palette and enjoy!

4. Charming cake stands and serve ware – Now is your chance (excuse?) to invest in those lovely cake stands you’ve been eyeing. They could be truly vintage or merely ‘vintage style’—either ceramic or glass with pretty ruffled rims and lace-like edges. Layer them to display tea sandwiches and pastries, or even to create centerpieces (as in the table setting above).

5. Authentic or custom paper products – You could craft your invitations, food labels, tea party menus, place cards, and guest ‘wish cards’ using vintage graphics and fonts cut from authentic antique stationery, post cards (see ‘alternative guest book’ above), calendars, and the like. Or you could order custom paper goods online, designed to simulate that Old World look.

Vintage touches you could easily recreate (see above palette):

  1. Pretty tea bag favors – via Wunderschoen Gemacht
  2. Lace-like heart ornaments – from ebay.co.uk, via Pinterest
  3. A most charming table setting – via The Sweetest Occasion
  4. Dainty tea cups with coconut macaroons – via Oh So Glam
  5. Vintage post cards – via Sweet Violet Bride
  6. Decorative containers – via Celebrations at Home
  7. Themed invitations – via 100 Layer Cake
  8. Depression glass bud vase – via Intimate Weddings

Variations on the tea party theme you could apply:

Looking for other elegant ways to plan a vintage tea party? Take your inspiration from these blogs:

  1. Victorian Tea – from the Complete Victorian
  2. Jane Austen Tea Party – from Dear Lillie’s blog
  3. Garden party – from Confetti Magazine

Books to consult for more ideas:

  1. The Vintage Tea Party Year
  2. Tea Party: 20 Themed Tea Parties with Recipes for Every Occasion, from Fabulous Showers to Intimate Gatherings
  3. The Vintage Tea Party Book: A Complete Guide to Hosting Your Perfect Party
  4. Vintage Tea Party
  5. Country Tea Parties


  1. Those centerpieces are gorgeous!

    The Perfect Palette

  2. Yes, aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by, Chrissy. 🙂

  3. Love anything shabby chic!

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