When I think of a bridal shower, I get the image of a very elegant event. And little is more elegant than an afternoon Victorian tea. This is a wonderful way to honor the bride-to-be amid luxurious surroundings.

For this type of bridal shower, you should use fine linens, china dishes, and silver. If you don't have any of your own, check with other women friends or a rental equipment business. Also, this type of shower works best with a limited guest list. Too many guests will destroy the cozy and elegant atmosphere usual with afternoon teas.

Invitations

Invitations to your Victorian tea bridal shower should be custom printed and don't forget to include an RSVP card. Also, you might consider ordering matching thank-you notes for the bride-to-be at this time.

Decorations

Fresh flowers are the best decoration for a tea. But a large abundance of flowers should be avoided; one large bouquet on your main table and perhaps a couple smaller bouquets on side tables is all that is necessary.

Food and Drink

Victorian teas traditonally serve an assortment of finger sandwiches with the crusts removed. Sandwich fillings such as chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salad are typical at a tea. Beverly Clark, in her book Showers also suggests using cream cheese with walnuts, avocado and diced olives, and sliced hard-boiled egg and cucumber. Lunchmeats, such as ham, roast beef, and turkey are not usually served.

Other than sandwiches, the only other food served at a tea is dessert. I suggest having some kind of cake and a variety of pastries, such as eclairs, scones, madeleines, individual tarts, and fancy cookies.

Choose a brand of tea which is favored by connoisseurs, such as Earl Grey or Darjeeling. Have cream, sugar, lemon, and an artificial sweetener on hand for the tea. It's also a good idea to provide some kind of punch, just in case some guests prefer a cold drink rather than hot tea.

Shower Themes

Since a bride-to-be usually is given several bridal showers, it's good to choose a specific theme for your shower. Examples include kitchen shower, lingerie shower, linen shower, etc.

In keeping with a Victorian tea, suggest to your guests they bring shower gifts that would help the bride-to-be host her own afternoon tea. Items such as a teapot, creamer, sugar bowl, serving trays, silver serving utensils are a good choice. Check with the bride to see if she'd prefer china serving dishes or silver.

One final suggestion: If the weather permits, consider having your tea party outside in a garden. Warm sunshine, nice wind, and beautiful flowers make a wonderful scene for an afternoon tea party shower.