The weeks and months preceding a wedding can be the most sentimental and exhilarating time in a person’s life, and being surrounded by loved ones makes everything a bit sweeter. Tea can play a beautiful role in a bridal or couple’s shower, whether served to attendees, given as a gift, or taken home as favors. Here, a look back at how the custom came to be and a bouquet of ideas for the perfect bridal shower gift.
TEA AND BRIDAL SHOWERS: A BRIEF HISTORY
Quite a few theories exist as to bridal shower origins, ranging from Belgium to the Netherlands, but according to Lillian Eichler’s The New Book of Etiquette from 1925, the age-old tradition is thought to have taken root in Holland – the country where tea first entered Europe. As the story goes, a Dutch woman fell in love with a charming village miller who had little money but an abundance of love for her. He was known for regularly giving away what little bread and flour he had to those less fortunate, and the woman’s friends adored him for his kind heart.
As their wedding day approached, the woman’s family held back her dowry and refused to acknowledge the union, insisting that she instead marry a wealthier man they had chosen to take her hand. Her friends, having little money of their own but wishing to support her choice, banded together to shower her with simple gifts for her new home: handmade linens, an antique vase, dinner plates, and a pot for the kitchen. Emboldened by this display of support, she wedded her soulmate and made a life with him. This story eventually made its way to England, where bridal showers became a common practice and crossed the pond to the United States in the late 19th century.
Today, the tradition carries on as a nostalgic day for friends and family to gather and express their support through simple gifts focusing on hearth and home. Whether a casual afternoon tea party or a grand evening affair, the ritual symbolizes two things: well wishes for the couple, and a reminder of friendship’s continuity across every chapter of life.
HOW TO INCORPORATE TEA INTO A SHOWER
People have long come together for conversation and a sense of community over steaming cups of tea. From samurai warriors discussing politics at matcha gatherings in 14th century Japan to the English tradition of high tea in the afternoon, teas and tisanes are perfect for serving at social gatherings. To host a bridal or couple’s shower that provides an elegant balance of formality and comfort, a modern tea party can strike just the right note.
To do so, send proper invitations, select some music, steep several varieties of fragrant black, green, herbal, or oolong tea, and heighten the sense of occasion with tea sandwiches and scones served on beautiful china. To aid the honoree(s) in sending thank you cards afterward, quietly keep a written log as they open their presents, helping them keep track of whom to thank for which gift.