Tea Tips: What exactly is a bridal tea?

by epi on December 17, 2013

Q: A friend’s mother is giving me a Tea for my wedding. What should occur at the tea and should I give the host of the tea a gift?

A: A bridal tea is simply a nice time for the bride to be together with friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere. No gifts are given to the bride, but the bride does give a small hostess gift to the hostess for having the tea in her honor. This can be a pretty flowering plant, or flowers sent ahead so they can be used as a decoration, or a personal or even household item. Not a big gift, but a token of appreciation. A follow-up thank-you note is appropriate, as well.

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Elizabeth L. December 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Actually in the South, a bridal tea is more like a shower. It is a come-and-go sort of thing with light refreshments being served. This is a ladies-only event and typically (but not always given the size of the wedding) all female wedding guests are invited to the tea. Friends of the mother-of-the-bride, aunts, female cousins, and occasionally friends and family of the groom’s mother give teas. All hostesses should receive a small thank you gift.

At a traditional bridal tea gifts are brought and opened by the hostesses in a back room. They record the gifts and set them out to be viewed by the guests. The bride mingles with guests and is sure to introduce guests to her mother and the groom’s mother (or whomever is acting in those positions). She does not open her gifts. A hostess or a member of the wedding party is usually stationed at the door to receive the gifts and take them back to opened, recorded, and displayed.

A “sip-and-see” is more of what you are describing. Again, guests come and go and light refreshments are served, but no gifts are brought. A sip-and-see is an opportunity for the bride to talk with more people and for guests to see the wedding gifts. Traditionally, all wedding gifts are displayed at the bride’s parents house; however, many brides choose to hold their sip-and-sees at their own homes, if that’s where they reside. A sip-and-see is an extremely Southern tradition and most brides choose not to have them.

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