Our rustic country wedding – afternoon tea in the garden before the ceremony ~ part 1
Charlie / 1 August 2011
For us, dreaming up an afternoon tea in my parent’s garden before our wedding ceremony was probably one of the best ideas we had. So often at weddings you have travelled for a couple of hours, often arriving at lunchtime or soon after, having not had a chance to eat anything and feeling a bit out of it from the car journey.
We wanted our guests to feel as relaxed as possible and well fed before getting down to the serious business of witnessing our marriage. For a start, on the invitation we told people they could arrive from 3pm, rather than saying ‘you must be here at…’ This meant there was a nice staggered arrival of family and friends, and hopefully it meant people weren’t under too much pressure to arrive by a specific time.
Nick, his best man Alex, and my parents and brother Freddie were at the afternoon tea, greeting people and catching up over a cup of tea and a scone. My sister Izzy and me were the only two not allowed to go down into the garden – it only really sunk in the day before that I was going to create this lovely afternoon tea and couldn’t actually be there.
We used one of our pretty tents, separate to the other two (which we used for dinner and dancing) as our ‘tea tent’. It was decorated with mom’s homemade bunting, trestle tables laid out and covered with plain white tablecloths.
The mismatched vintage cups and saucers and tiny cake plates were borrowed from our fab caterer Talia of Cotswold Cooks. I had collected a couple of teapots from carboots and charity shops, my mom bought a couple from TKMaxx and the spotty one is ours from home. I also found an unusual red teapot that was used for the hot water for anyone wanting to make a herbal tea.
All of the milk jugs are my own, not bought for the wedding, I just have a bit of thing for old jugs. We had one jug for soy milk, which I tied a brown luggage tag label to. We had a selection of herbal tea bags and these were popped into a gorgeous set of old metal French canisters that I’ve had for ages (another carboot find). I had never really used them, so it was lovely to get them out and get something into them.
More of my own collection of vintage plates were used to display the scones and strawberries. The week leading up to the wedding I also bought two pretty enamel plates from Cath Kidston in Cheltenham.
The scones were homemade by one of my best friends, Jane, who I think made about 120 scones! She made them in batches at her home in Cheshire, then froze them and brought them down. Jane makes the best scones ever and there were very few left over.
The jam for the scones was made by Nick and I the summer before – we picked the raspberries at a local farm, and spent an afternoon making jam (our first attempt). The jam was put into bowls – more charity shop and carboot finds.
I bought a couple of Falcon enamel pudding bowls online for the clotted cream, which I also ordered online from Johns of Instow in Devon. I found their website after a Google search, and they were so helpful and it was delicious clotted cream. It was times like this, especially when supporting small, local, or family run businesses, that planning our wedding felt great.
My granny lives on the Tamar River in Devon and my childhood is full of happy memories digging into warm homemade scones piled high with jam and mounds of thick yellow clotted cream. My mom’s cousin had a dairy farm up the road so we used to get the most local and fab clotted cream you could imagine.
In true Devon style we had some scones made up and ready to eat with the cream on first, and jam on top. I hear it’s the Cornish fashion to put the jam on first and clotted cream on top – how do you do your cream teas?
There were pots of spoons and knives so that people could make up their own scones, if they fancied a scone without cream (God forbid!) or perhaps their jam first and cream on second.
To make the table look a bit prettier I used two old wooden crates, upturned, to create a bit of height. There were also jam jars and enamel jugs full of country flowers, and a couple of tiny pots with just one or two roses from my mom’s garden.
Izzy wrote up two gorgeous signs which we hung from the back of the tent – one with details of the afternoon tea ‘eats’ and another with the ‘drink’. We wanted to tell people where all the lovely food and drink was from after we’d put so much effort into sourcing or making everything.
The chalkboards were made from a sheet of mdf painted with blackboard paint, then two holes drilled at the top and twine threaded through them.
On a separate table just outside the tea tent were glass jugs of organic lemonade (from Belvoir) and I used our ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ enamel allotment mugs for the gorgeous stripey paper straws I’d bought from Pipii.
These straws are so fun, I would recommend anyone to buy some for their wedding or just to use at home. For paper straws they are incredibly durable, and they come in a variety of colours.
It’s worth noting that those pretty roses in the background were generously given to us by one of my mom’s neighbours. She runs a flower shop in nearby Burford and on Friday evening she came round with a huge bucket of flowers of everything that hadn’t sold in her shop – how nice is that!
And that was us set for the afternoon tea – we just needed some friends and family to show up, and our wedding had officially started. Part 2 of our afternoon tea will be tomorrow – see you then!
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