The kitchen tea (also sometimes known as a bridal shower) is a pre-wedding must. Right up there next to wedding dress fittings and cake tastings, kitchen teas form part of the traditional wedding checklist so many brides-to-be dream about. And she doesn’t have to lift a finger for it. All the planning falls to the maid of honour and bridesmaids, with the involvement (and approval) of the mother-of-the-bride and the mom-in-law-to-be.
If you are part of a ‘bride tribe’ and need to start planning, here are some tips on how to pull it all off:
First some context
If you’re wondering if the whole idea of a kitchen tea is a maybe little archaic and even patriarchal, you’d be right. Kitchen teas are thought to have originated in the 1600s as an alternative to a dowry for brides whose families couldn’t afford it. A dowry was what the bride’s parents ‘paid’ to the husband in exchange for him marrying their daughter (yes, the feminists in all of us are screaming).
The kitchen tea was a cross-generational gathering of women from the community, in the mother of the bride’s kitchen, where the bride would receive gifts for the home ( the kitchen specifically). This was also an opportunity for advice about married life would be handed down – the idea being that the bride to be would emerge from her kitchen tea a domestic goddess, ready to take on any recipe or homely chore wedded bliss would throw at her.
Gender stereotypes and patriarchy aside, in 2019, the kitchen tea or bridal shower has taken on a different meaning. It’s now much less about getting ready for domesticity, and much more about simply gathering to celebrate the bride and wish her well in her marriage. And that’s a beautiful thing, definitely worth celebrating.
Let’s do this!
Now that we’re still in agreement that a kitchen tea is a fun and worthwhile pre-wedding ritual, let’s get on to the planning. Start by setting a date – usually 4-6 weeks before the wedding. That said, it’s always a good idea to ask the bride if she has a particular time in mind.
For example, if she’s having a destination wedding, she might prefer to have the bridal shower closer to wedding date, to make it easier for friends and family traveling from far to include it in their trip.
Timing is everything
Once you know when to have it, you need to think of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. And this completely depends on the bride’s personality and taste. Is she more of a champagne brunch or a high tea kind of person? This will dictate time of day – usually either late morning or mid-afternoon – and the food to serve and mood to set.
Décor and theme
When you know the bride well, this should be easy. You can keep it clean and classy, with a few personal accents if she’s very chic. If she’s fun-loving, go all out on a theme, like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or even Coachella (yes, this has actually happened) – let your imagination run wild. Expert tip: Whatever the theme, mimosas are always a win.
Go big or host at home
You can host the kitchen tea at a venue or use the home of one of the moms or bridesmaids if that’s an option. The most important thing is to choose somewhere the bride will love.
If you’re hosting during the colder months, a dining room or lounge would be the perfect setting. The warmer months are the perfect time for taking it outdoors into the garden. Whether it’s under a line of white umbrellas, or a small marquee, the natural colours of a garden setting will compliment any décor.
The guest list
This is very important – don’t invite anyone who hasn’t been invited to the wedding. Major faux pas if you do. The best way to handle this is to simply get the wedding guest list from the bride and make sure invitations are extended to all women attending (and close male friends and family, if the bride wants, hey this is 2019).
Plan some activities
Yes, eating and drinking is an activity. But when you’re bringing together a group of people who don’t know each other and don’t often hang out, a few fun games and activities can mean the difference between an awkward afternoon or a party that no one wants to end.
Some great ideas that always go down well include: bridal bingo, pop quizzes about the bride and her partner, photo booths, and making wedding dresses out of toilet paper. If you want to stay closer to tradition, have guests share their favourite recipes in a special keepsake book for the bride.
Or, a personal favourite, make the bride unwrap gifts while wearing oven gloves –guaranteed to be hilarious. Always keep a few games and activities up your sleeve and gauge the energy of the guests to see when to get things going with a game, and when to let everyone enjoy their mimosas in peace.
Planning a bridal bash? The MPR Hiring team are seasoned professionals when it comes to making brides happy. We can help you take care of everything from the tables and glassware, to marquees and set up. Get in touch to discuss your plans