Looking for a classic wedding theme that your guests will love? Something timeless, with a welcoming feel that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Then you should seriously be considering an English Tea Party wedding theme.After all, who doesn’t like sitting down to delicious sandwiches, scrumptious scones, cakes and cups of tea – or glasses of champagne and sparkling wine.

You can serve afternoon tea at your reception tables but we like the idea of a buffet style afternoon tea so guests can help themselves and then go back to their seats.

How to set up your afternoon tea tables

Think pastels and delicate colours. Our stylists could decorate the ceiling of your venue with coloured paper lanterns in subtle shades. Or if you want to go a more chintzy route, ask for sprigged cotton chair back ties in retro colours like turquoise and hot pink. Have the sides of your tables decorated with bunting as well as doorways and arches.

Florals are a big part of an English tea party. Your table arrangements don’t have to be formal – small posies of cottage garden flowers usually look best positioned to decorate surfaces.

When it comes to tableware, you need to be thinking of fine bone china to get the right look. There’s something about afternoon tea served on porcelain plates with proper tea cups and saucers that the Dowager Duchess of Grantham would certainly approve of.

Your cakes, scones and sandwiches should be appetisingly displayed on tiered cake stands – add a funky modern touch by introducing little flags on cocktail sticks. Think of a mixture of cake flavours – if it’s hot, chocolate cakes may be difficult to keep cool. Old fashioned Victoria sponges, fruit cakes, macarons and coffee cakes are good alternatives. Serve piles of soft scones with lashings of clotted cream and bowls of strawberry jam. And for sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off are perfection.

Offer flutes of champagne, sparkling rosé or Prosecco as well as sparkling elderflower and other soft drinks. In fact keep the soft drinks coming if it’s a hot summer afternoon – people may get dehydrated and prefer a soft drink to alcohol in any case.

If you’re having the event in a marquee put tables both inside and outside the marque if the weather permits. But make sure your guests have somewhere to sit in the shade outside.

You can source fine porcelain, table cloths, chair sashes and all the other accessories that will style your English afternoon tea wedding theme by talking to one of our specially trained stylists who will be able to deliver what you need.

Don’t forget napkins or serviettes either – they are one of those finishing touches that really make an English tea party wedding day.

Think about what you are going to call your wedding tables – something with an English theme would be best. It could be famous authors – Jane Austen, Charles Dickens. Maybe flowers. Maybe historic cities. English artists – it’s your call.

To DIY or not to DIY

An English afternoon tea party is the type of wedding reception where you can DIY much of the food. However we’d say be cautious about this. No matter how good a baker you are, the reality is that you are going to be busy, busy, busy in the build up to your wedding day and you don’t want to be making up sandwiches just before your wedding ceremony!

If you’re trying to keep costs down and you have a reliable friend or family member who is a good baker then you could ask them to make some cakes for you. But certainly don’t rely on friends and family to do the serving – it’s always better to have help in to offer dishes around, collect used plates and cups and of course to do the washing up!

One aspect you could however DIY is a sweetie table. Put together jars of old fashioned sweets – liquorice allsorts, lollies, sherbert flying saucers and let guests help themselves to a pick and mix – offer striped sweetie bags or colours that suit your theme.

That said, if you are tight on budget, an English tea party wedding rception is the perfect way to entertain your guests royally without having to spend a fortune. Plan on getting married at 2pm or so and then invite everybody back to afternoon tea – which doubles as your reception and wedding breakfast. It’s also a good option if you have friends with young children who need to come to the wedding.

Don’t feel you have to have dancing afterwards. You could just do things the old fashioned way and leave for your honeymoon after the cake is cut. Or you could leave then, give everybody a break from festivities and then regroup in the evening for further celebrations and dancing.

Bearing all this in mind, we think that an English tea party theme is a definite consideration – it’s charming, stylish, easy to put together and budget friendly. And remember you can get the look exactly right with our help.