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My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this week, and I thought it would be fun (at 10 o’clock Sunday night) to do a bridal-related tea post. I picked an easy question: what is the difference between a bridal tea and a bridal shower?

Traditionally, a bridal shower is a party to honour the bride, and it is usually hosted by a close female member of her family, for example an aunt. Sometimes the hostess is the Maid/Matron of Honour.

This party frequently involves tea and punch, and dainty foods like cream cheese and cherry-filled finger sandwiches,  and squares cut into bite-sized pieces. A word of advice: eat before you come! Napkins, streamers, and 3D paper bells in the bride’s “colours” are draped around the buffet table. In the place of honour at the buffet table, is the cake! This cake is your reward for sticking out the next 4 hours with a plastic smile on your face, while you “oo” and “ah” over face cloths and oven mitts.

The room itself is set up with sticky folding chairs, borrowed from the church basement. The bride is seated in the place of honour, surrounded by a pile of boxes wrapped with rose-printed paper, and bags stuffed with tissue paper. Yes, the expectation is that you come bearing gifts. Fifty years ago, the purpose of bestowing gifts was to help the young couple establish a home. These days, it seems, most couples have everything they need or want, including a home, long before they “tie the knot”. And they have access to gift registries, which means they can tell you exactly which overpriced sheet set or ridiculous knickknack they’ll never use, to buy for them.

Before the snacks and the cake, however, everyone must gleefully participate in a series of party games designed to test your attention span (which we all know is focused on getting to the cake) and your creativity. Games like “Toilet Paper Wedding Dress”…because who wouldn’t find it hilarious to drape themselves publicly with something normally used for…well, you get the picture. My own experience in high school involving toilet paper was certainly hilarious for someone… Segue to the sappy “words of wisdom” written on cue cards with pencil crayons about communication and love…and that one risque comment related to sex intended to make everyone feign embarrassment.

“The key to a successful marriage is to argue naked.”

The one bright beacon of hope, aside from the cake, once the gift opening begins is the traditional paper plate “hat”, made by taping the ribbons and bows from the packages on to a paper plate, and forcing the bride to wear said hat and pose for embarrassing pictures! It’s a small passive-aggressive way to get back at the bride for causing you to miss your afternoon nap. Social media has just amplified this one small pleasure!

K-bridal shower hat

My Mom crowning her little sis!

Long, teary thank you speech from bride. Cue cake!

“Life is short – start with the cake. End with more cake! – jennsmidlifecrisis”

A bridal  tea is a more sophisticated and smaller gathering of family and/or bridesmaids with the bride for the sole purpose of celebrating the impending marriage. Usually tea and delicate finger foods are served, possibly on fine china or coloured napkins. No obligatory lame games are played. No parade of bows is undertaken. And no gifts are expected.  In fact, some brides consider this an optimal time to bestow a thank you gift on those attending the tea, for the parts they will play in her “happily ever after”! Oh…and there is probably cake.

Bridal teas are gaining in popularity. So are elaborate bachelorette parties. To each their own! Anyway, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Love you!

Mom and Dad Wedding (800x713)

“Happily Ever After is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice!”

Cheers! Happy Monday!