It wasn’t so long ago that most weddings took place early in the day – around noon – with guests enjoying an afternoon reception and the bride and groom leaving for their honeymoon about 5pm.
Nowadays the trend is very much for a longer event – usually with an evening party of dancing and entertainment. But of course, you don’t have to follow the trend.
Whilst an evening event can be spectacular, it’s not for everyone.
First off, it’s more expensive. You’re going to have to fund entertainment, a band or DJ. And if you get married early in the day, then you’re looking at feeding your guests twice.
If you have friends with young children, an evening wedding can be a bit problematic and mean that babysitters have to be booked or your friends have to leave earlier than they’d like.
And if you’ve elderly relatives, they may feel a bit sidelined when a noisy DJ starts up.
If you find yourself nodding to all of the above, then an afternoon tea party wedding may be the answer
You and your fiancé can tie the knot at about 2pm and then leave in style for a stunning afternoon reception. You can also race off on your honeymoon a bit earlier!
In summer, you could set up afternoon tea in a marquee or the conservatory of a hotel. Your Ambience Venue Stylist will make sure everything looks absolutely beautiful.
An afternoon tea reception works well buffet style. Your caterers will set everything out on long tables. Elegant finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Delicious scones with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam. Cakes worthy of The Great British Bake Off.
Everyone can help themselves, but it’s a good idea to have somebody at hand who can look after any oldies, who might find balancing a plate and a saucer a little awkward and prefer to be served at table.
You could also add a bit of children’s party food. Jellies. Sausages on sticks. You can entertain lavishly without the price tag of a formal sit down, three course dinner. And of course, children don’t need to sit through interminable speeches – they can eat and then leave the table to play and won’t be disturbing a speaker.
An afternoon tea party wedding is one where a vintage style look comes into its own. Set the tone with the china you use – your stylist will be able to source vintage style cups, saucers and plates and pretty tablecloths. Mismatched is all the better.
Although you’re serving food to your guests buffet style, it’s still important that everyone has somewhere to sit so you will need to have informal tables with chairs available for people to sit. No need for a seating plan though!
Dress up your chairs with vintage style sashes and table runners that echo the mood of the serving tables – maybe using vintage look chintzes.
Receiving your guests
A receiving line is an old-fashioned but worthwhile idea that makes it simpler for you to say hello to everyone.
Have a receiving line at your tea party wedding and then have your guests ushered into the reception room so that they can be served champagne and cups of tea and soft drinks.
When everyone has arrived, the best man can announce the speeches and your wedding cake can be cut. That’s when afternoon tea proper is served, giving the bride and groom the ability to mingle with all their guests. It’s a much less formal way of entertaining and may suit your individual style much better (as well as being a lot easier on your pocket.)
To set the atmosphere, you may want to have a string quartet or jazz band playing in the background as guests arrive – or a harpist to create a mood of relaxed calm.
Your personal style
If you’re having an afternoon wedding, you may not want to wear a long wedding dress. Have a look at ballerina length wedding dresses (which finish just above the ankle) or 1920’s style gowns which are less structured. Your bridegroom might not want to wearing a morning suit either – instead he might want to buy the suit he’s always wanted (and which he can wear again and again). The lovely thing about an afternoon wedding is that there are no rules, although we suggest that if the bridegroom and his party are wearing suits you put ‘lounge suits’ on the dress code so everybody knows what to wear.
An afternoon tea wedding is one way of making sure that you’re not following the crowd and you’re putting your own individual stamp on your big day. And if you need any help doing this, one of our stylists will be happy to advise you.