Afternoon tea wedding reception ideas

cupcakes image by Mat Hayward from

Tea wedding receptions tend to cost much less than traditional wedding receptions, while still allowing the bride and groom to share their joy with friends and family. Plan your tea wedding reception to include details that make it as elegant or casual as you desire.

Your tea reception should reflect your personalities, along with your wedding colours and theme, if applicable.


Send invitations that let your guests know you will have a tea reception rather than a traditional full sit-down meal. The time of your reception, typically between noon and 4pm, can indicate your plan to host a tea reception. Alternatively, write "tea reception" on your invitations. For example, "Tea reception immediately following ceremony" or something similar. If the reception is not immediately following the ceremony, consider limiting the reception to two hours and list the beginning and end time on the invitation.

Select a venue that complements your wedding theme and the ambience you wish to create. A garden, park, atrium or room with a garden view are ideal if the weather and view permit. Hosting your tea reception at the same venue as your wedding ceremony, if possible, may save money and time.


Traditional white tablecloths and chair covers are generally the least expensive way to cover your tables and chairs. Add colour by adding a runner, overlay, linen napkins or with your centrepieces and favours. For example, a spring tea reception with a light green and pink colour scheme might include a green overlay, green linen napkins and green bows on the chairs with pink floral napkin ring holders and pink floral centrepieces. Use lace doilies for a formal or Victorian-themed tea reception.

Use decorative dessert plates, teacups and saucers with patterns that complement your wedding theme. Mix and match various tea services for a casual or eclectic look.

Centrepieces can include traditional bouquets of flowers in your wedding colours. Alternatively, you can take care of two details by using tiered service trays filled with goodies or decorative tea services as your centrepieces.


Light snacks or heavy hors d'oeuvres would accentuate the tea and give your guests something to snack on while they mingle and celebrate with you. Scones, biscuits, cookies, bite-size sandwiches and other treats are ideal to complement the tea. Serve a variety of flavours of tea, along with coffee and soft drinks for those who don't like tea. Consider having waiters serve the hors d'oeuvres and treats, as you have more control over portions and guests are less likely to overindulge when being served.


Cupcakes or cookies decorated to look like flowers are ideal favours. A personalised teacup and saucer or teabags in your favourite flavours are also fitting. Use tea or flower-shaped favour boxes if you'd like to give your guests something different, such as flower seeds, candy or mints.