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A Garden Tea Party at Southern Arizona's BEST Wedding Venue

Flowers blooming, fountain splashing, birds chirping... the setting for a garden tea party could not be more perfect than in our Hacienda Courtyard!


This ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE event was for my beloved niece, Lily (who some of you may recognize as a model for wedding style shoots or, perhaps, the lovely little girl who took your order at one of our fall harvest festivals a few years back...). Lily will be getting married here at Agua Linda Farm this October and I was SO excited when she asked if she could have her bridal shower here, too - especially when she requested a garden tea-party theme! Our venue is PERFECT for a garden theme - especially in April when flowers are blooming and outdoor day-time temperatures are comfortable AND my niece knows that her mother and I grew up having tea parties! Over the years, I have accumulated all the "stuff" needed; fine china, the gloves, the hats, the linens...

TOO FUN!!

In this post you will find ideas to plan a garden tea party with helpful links, recipes and more!

AND, if this is an event you would like to book at my venue, contact me!


Beautiful courtyard for a bridal shower tea party

No detail was spared for this DREAMY bridal shower tea party!


Good Morning!

Rachel (Lily's sister and my other niece) and Tiffany, the two "maids -of-honor", came down the day before so that they could stay the night and assist with the set up the next day. That morning, I woke them up early for a surprise.


"We are going to pick wildflowers!"

The wildflowers are so abundant this spring and I could not resist taking the girls to gather some blooms early that morning to incorporate into the decor!




 

Welcome

Before entering the courtyard, guests were greeted by this welcome sign. The sign is not only lovely in it's own right, BUT, it was made from a headboard that came from the bride's Great Grandmother's guest-room and was painted by her aunt (ME!) and filled with flowers and greenery from the farm and the wildflowers gathered that morning... can I get an "Ahhhh!"? (Yes... this is available for my clients!)

Welcome to the garden tea party!




A video tour


All of the invitations, signs and labels were designed by me using Canva. Napkins were hankies that my co-host, Tracy provided that we inserted into a card-stock design that made the napkins look like a skirt! I used a "paper doll" element from Canva, printed on card stock and cut a slit for the hankie to be inserted. Here is the template (note, this also has the matching "bride" sign that I hung on the back of Lily's chair)


Shower napkin dress
.pdf
Download PDF • 3.95MB


Decor

A garden tea party MUST be oozing with vintage charm and since this was my niece's shower, no detail would be spared! It was time to employ my EXTENSIVE collection of beautiful vintage china and so much more! Tea cups, saucers, vintage sterling plated flatware, tiered service platers, water goblets and champagne flutes were all set out by the bridesmaids. Stacks of old books with lace ribbon and teacups filled with flowers and a collection of family heirloom treasures made for personalized centerpieces and accents around the courtyard .

I used white tablecloths on all tables except the bride's which was draped in petal-pink and placed a collection of vintage lace doilies in the middle of each table. I displayed a family cake tin from 4 generations past with photos of ancestors in wedding dresses, my grandparent's cake topper and the very tablecloth that Lily's great, great, great grandparents had at their wedding table in 1908!!


Vintage china, old books, flowers and more on tablesettings

This stunning sugar bowl belonged to the bride's great, great grandmother! The tea cup was one of another great grandmother's collection from her favorite store in Canada across the border of Maine where I was born. The gloves were my mother's favorite tea party gloves. Tracy, my co-host, made scones and clotted cream (in jar).


Lovely ladies tea party in the garden courtyard.

Rachel and Tiffany helped set tables with fine, vintage china, sterling flatware, tiered serving trays and more!


Lily has 5 bridesmaids. Each served as a hostess at their table.



Splashing fountain and flowers blooming in the courtyard for this spring garden tea party bridal shower

Photo Booth

I used ribbon to create this photo backdrop that was PERFECT for that vintage vibe! (now available in my rental collection!) I flanked the hanging with vintage hat boxes, my collection of tea party hats and lace parasols! The green velvet chair that Lily sat on while opening gifts was my grandmother's slipper chair that she always had next to her bed. Guests were asked to wear "tea party attire" and Lily' looked ADORABLE in her tulle mini-dress!


Photo backdrop, vintage hats and parasols for this group of ladies at the bridal shower tea party

The spring flowers were blooming in the courtyard for the April tea party bridal shower


Beverages

Tea

What is a tea party without tea? My co-host, Tracy (a sister-like bestie that I've known since our diaper days!) purchased a loose leaf blend on her last trip to England where her husband is from - it was so delicious! EVERYONE commented on it. (William's Sonoma sells it, though it is a little pricey! You can also order it direct from Fortnum and Mason in England for a better price, but shipping is rather expensive).

We had a work station hidden on one end of the patio with a hot water dispenser at the ready. Each table had a bridesmaid that hosted that group of ladies. She filled the water goblets as guests arrived, stocked and replenished the tiered platters with delectables and refilled tea-pots when needed. We had 3 individual cup strainers at each table and loose-leaf tea was added to hot water in pots rather than using tea bags both for quality of tea and to reduce the mess at the tables of used tea bags.


Delicious loose leaf tea was a hit at the ladies tea party at my Tucson venue

Mimosas

A "bubbly" station was stocked with champagne, sparkling cider, fresh berries and mangoes with a choice of orange or a mango-peach-orange juice for ladies to make a mimosa. I made covers for juice carafes to keep any debris or bugs from blowing into the vessels with doilies weighted with vintage clip-on earrings and beads. The display was on my antique wash stand which I found at a thrift store and purchased with the intention of re-selling it but I cannot bring myself to part with it! For the occasion, I placed a silver punch bowl in the hole in place of the wash basin to chill the champagne and over the course of the weeks leading up to the event, I made ice-cubes with edible flowers from the farm! The faux fireplace mantel served as a shelf for well-water, pink lemonade and champagne flutes. A cooler with back-up chilled bottles was hidden behind the wash stand draped with lace.


Mimosas with mango and orange juice with fresh fruit and edible flowers in ice-cubes


Ice-Cubes

I used a silicone mold to make the ice-cubes.

Directions:

Fill the mold about half way with water, add edible flowers (I used violets, pansies, peach and rose flowers from the garden). Allow to freeze then top off with more water once the first is frozen to top off the molds. Do this because the flowers want to float to the top and this helps to center the flower in the ice-cube and the first layer of ice hold the flowers in place. I only had two trays so over the course of a week or so, I removed the cubes and stored them in a zip-lock and made more. Note that these do not work so well placed in a glass to ice down a drink because as they melt, flower debris is messy in your glass. For that, I recommend using fruit.


The Menu

Lily has a gluten intolerance, so in lieu of croissants, I made her sandwich using gluten free wraps and cut into pinwheels. I also made a batch of gluten-free scones using a mix that I purchased at World Market and baked one recipe of lemon bars using gluten-free flour.


The display tiers were a combination of metal stands that we placed plates on and the more traditional tired stands. Tracy recruited her husband to drill holes in thrift store plates of three sizes and used a kit to assemble. She said that Peter ruined a few drill bits in the process. The nice thing about these tiered trays is that they will dis-assemble for easy storage!.


Traditionally, the three tier display platters are assembled as such;

The lower tier is for sandwiches; middle for scones; top for sweets.


Beautiful bride at her garden tea party shower

All of these beautiful China pieces are available for my clients for their tea party bridal or baby shower - except for THAT tea pot that was part of the first set my grandparents purchased after they were married!


Games & Activities

Three prizes were awarded for games; one was "tea" themed; another garden themed and the third bath themed.


Game 1: Sketch the Dress

I LOVED this activity!! Lily had not yet chosen her dress and being that this group of ladies is rather artistic, I was on the hunt for creative activities when I found this one online. "Sketch the Dress".


Supplies (links in text below)

  • textured card-stock

  • template

  • oil pastels in many colors - be sure to have white!

  • spray to set pastels

  • rings or ribbon to make the designs into a booklet (optional)

  • award ribbon (optional)

  • twine (to string a "clothesline" for displaying designs)

  • basket of clothespins to hang designs

  • hand wipes (pastels can be messy!)


The outline was drawn by Lily's sister and I printed it on lightly textured brown paper-bag card-stock. (NOTE, my printer does not print card stock, so I had these and the napkin holders printed at my local printer). The oil pastels were from my mother's collection and I ordered extras of white. A bottle of pastel setting spray was on hand to "seal" the design (hairspray can also be used).

The vanity was my great grandmother's (so, Lily's great-great!), and the statue to one side was one that always sat on my grandmother's dressing table. I decorated the vanity with a bunting banner that I made and taped old family wedding photos on the mirrors.

After all the guests "designed" a dress for Lily, the bride-to-be selected her favorites and I had a hand-made award ribbon for her to clip on to the winner who also chose one of the themed prizes. Here is a tutorial to make the award ribbon, note that I used satin and lace ribbon for the part that hangs down instead of paper.


Here is a pdf. of the template designed by Rachel, the bride's sister. It will print 2 on standard A4 size paper, so if you don't have a paper cutter, be sure to have the printing company cut for you. The two dots on the top are guides to punch holes so they can be assembled later in a booklet with ribbon or book-binding rings.




Sketch the dress
.pdf
Download PDF • 171KB


(I have since seen Lily's actual dress that she bought at David's Bridal in Tucson and it is, in fact, quite similar to the winning design, but don't tell the groom!).



Game 2: Guess Their Age

This vintage photo stand was perfect for displaying photos of the bride and groom throughout their young lives. The phots themselves are a great conversation starter and really help two new family groups to get to know each other! Guests tried to "guess" their age and the winner was the one who got the most correct with only the moms having the "key"!


AREN'T THEY SOOO CUTE?


I used a heart-shaped punch out and rubber stamps (both of which my clients can borrow from me) to number the photos and printed a co-ordinating list. Small clip-boards were on hand and I could not resist ordering pretty pink "golf" pencils!



Love Light

For the couple's romantic evenings (or maybe to decorate at their wedding...), guests used melted wax in a variety of colors to "paint" white taper candles for the bride and groom. This is a very relaxing activity AND, not as messy as I thought it was going to be - Thanks, Tiffany - what a great idea!


Supplies

  • candle painting kit (includes taper candles, colorful tea-light candles for "paint" and brushes)

  • container with florist foam to display candles up-right or a collection of empty candle-sticks (optional)

  • acrylic placemats to protect tablecloth (optional)

Note that due to a gentle breeze, the tea-light candles that are used as "paint" , kept blowing out so we grabbed a tin bowl from my kitchen and put the candles in there to block the wind.



Game 3: Pass the Pickle!

Lily requested one "slightly naughty" game and bridesmaids came up with this one - it is like playing hot potato except guests have to pass a cucumber using only their legs! It isn't easy and gets everyone laughing!

My husband managed the music (it's nice when your husband is also a DJ!). It was HYSTERICAL!




 

Guests were asked to share a family or favorite recipe for the bride and a family friend handmade a box to hold them in.




I displayed photos of previous family's weddings; I am NO cake baker but I made this (rather hokey looking) cake to re-create the one that my sister made for Lily's 1st birthday!; Guests tossed pennies into the fountain and made wishes for the couple;



 

Love Is Sweet

Favors were jars of honey. I ordered the jars on Amazon - a very good price, I thought - included was the little bee, twine (I switched out for ribbon) AND the "thank you" tag, but the honey was from our local bee keeper - so GOOD!

I custom designed and printed the labels using Canva and Avery labels and displayed the jars on a stack of my vintage suitcases near the gate for guests to easily see on their way out of the courtyard.



Visiting, relaxing, a little croquet... I don't think anyone wanted the day to end!


The day after the shower, I received this text from the groom's mother;

"I'm beside myself! That had to be the most beautiful, perfect wedding shower I have ever been to! Every detail had purpose and meaning! It felt like a movie"

 

Follow my venue's instagram to see MORE images of weddings and events at my venue.

 

Laurel Loew, owner/manager of Agua Linda Farm and Soazliving

My venue, Agua Linda Farm is a 63 acre ranch in Southern Arizona near Tucson. My husband and I have been hosting weddings, harvest festivals and other events on our property for more than 15 years. I write my blog posts with my clients in mind but also hope to provide a little inspiration applicable to any wedding or event.

Happy Planning!. - Laurel Loew

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