I sure do love the idea of a sweet afternoon tea party wedding reception. It’s sweet, delightful, and a great way to save! This wedding board is one part Alice in Wonderland, one party vintage charm. Taking a cue from Alice in Wonderland, how about a game of croquet instead of dancing if the weather is agreeable? Because really…

Who says…dancing is a must?

Mood: playful charm
Palette: fuchsia, pale pink

{click image to enlarge}


Top row from left: front lawn ceremony from The Knot, dress from Posh Girl Vintage, place setting from Martha Stewart Weddings, carnation centerpiece from Mi Mi Design
Row 2: tea sandwiches from Callahan Catering, playing card seating cards photo by Jennifer Causey, tea bag favors from Martha Stewart Weddings, croquet set from Oh How Charming!
Row 3: petits fours from Parisian Events, locket from Vintage Rehab, pink bunting from, carnation bouquet photo by Samm Blake
Row 4: RSVP slip from Stitch Rip Repeat, carnation boutonnieres, champagne photo from Martha Stewart Weddings, bubbles photo by Lisa Lefkowitz

The Paper: By skipping the RSVP cards, you’ll not only save on printing costs but also on postage. Instead, do what Beth did, and include a pretty slip of paper directing your guests to RSVP by email or phone (she also made her own invitations, if you’re feeling ambitious…). For theme-appropriate and budget friendly escort cards, mark playing cards with your guests’ names, and pin them on a bulletin board.

The Fashion: Going vintage is a great way to save. This dress from Posh Girl Vintage is only $265. Vintageous and Unique Vintage are other good places to try online. There are also designers who can create a dress for you using a pre-existing wedding dress – if you want to give new life to your mother’s wedding dress, maybe? Or, if you want something pre-owned, but not necessarily vintage, check out sites like Once Wed, Pre-Owned Wedding Dresses and Encore Bridal. Accesorize with a vintage locket for $98 and simple pearl earrings that you already own.

The Decor: You know those tissue paper pom poms that are so popular right now? Why not shrink that same pattern down and use them as napkin rings? Make bunting in a variety of fabrics and colors to hang around the reception site.

The Flowers: Carnations! I can’t think of another flower that has been more unfairly maligned than the carnation. Maybe it’s because of the tacky dyed ones? Or because they’re cheap? But pick one color, and use a copious amount of blooms, and they will look beautiful instead of cheap. You can make pomanders from them, huge dramatic centerpieces, or a ruffly bouquet, all for around 50-cents per stem.

The Food: An afternoon tea is tucked neatly in between lunch and dinner, so you won’t need as much food as you might for another type of reception. Dainty finger sandwiches and scones with jam and cream will look pretty on a tiered tea tray (which can do double-duty as a centerpiece), or you can go with a buffet. Petits fours are an appropriate, and cheaper, alternative to a formal wedding cake. If you want to offer a signature drink, why not substitute Prosecco for Champagne? It has a different taste, but is still delicious and bubbly, and significantly cheaper. And of course, you’ll want to serve several types of tea.

Other Details: If the weather permits, set up a game of croquet or bocce ball (or both!) to entertain your guests. If you’re staying indoors, how about decks of cards at each table for guests to play with? Instead of having your flower girl toss petals, fill a small vase with bubbles and tie a ribbon around it and let your flower girl blow bubbles down the aisle. For favors under $1, attach personalized tags to tea bags, and arrange them in a tray for your guests to take home.

Splurges: Why not splurge on a higher end croquet set? For $100 – a fraction of the money you’re saving by not hiring a band or DJ – you can have a set that will live to play another game.

For Free: If your mother is anything like mine, you’ve heard her say it a million times – stand up straight and smile. No amount of makeup or expensive clothes can take the place of good posture and a happy face. And they’re both free!

Real Wedding Inspiration: Brittany & Michael, Jennifer & Josh via The Bride’s Cafe part one and two

PS – Check out this pretty photo via {frolic!}.

9 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: Budget Friendly, Inspiration Boards
  1. DomestiGals

    Kathryn, these are some wonderful ideas. Not having RSVP cards and using old playing cards for place cards also cuts down on paper use – bonus! And I totally agree about carnations – when not tackily dyed, they can be really fun and lovely! Cheers! Jen xx

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  2. Worthington

    You really are right about carnations. I have loved short bouquets of pink carnations for years – and may use them for my wedding flowers – and just as recently as this past Thanksgiving at The Greenbrier Resort – a worldwide renown resort – they used carnations for the table flowers! So that tells you something!

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  3. the future mrs. j

    Ahh carnations are lovely! But the price will be going up in the next ten years. My florist informed me during our planning meeting that the three major growers in the US will not be growing them for the next ten years because the cost to grow them doesn’t reflect the price they sell for!Just something to keep in mind for the future! Who knew right?By the way…LOVE the post!

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  4. Kati

    I love the playing card seating cards!

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  5. Pretty Bride

    Love these ideas… so cute and fun!

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  6. Mrs. in May

    And in that centerpiece- WOW they just pop!

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  7. Tara

    LOVE it!!!

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  8. Alannah Rose

    The humble carnation has come a long way, all it takes is a little creativity and style and voila – stylish, chic and affordable! Beautiful board.

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  9. Jersey Girl in DC

    I LOVE this! I wish we could do our wedding day all over again :)

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