Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bridal Tea

Today I helped friends throw a bridal tea.  While a tea normally conjures up visions of us sitting around sipping a hot beverage while balancing a cup and saucer...I can assure you that this is not the modern interpretation.  Where showers tend to have a limited number of guests that sit around and play games before food is consumed and the bride-to-be opens her gifts, a tea means that a crowd is expected, that people don't have to stay the entire time and that we don't have to count the number of bows she breaks to determine how many children she's going to have.  Personally, I prefer this arrangement, except that I don't get to see the bride's face as she opens her gifts.  There are hostesses assigned to manage this so that she has time to mingle with her guests.

At the tea today, everyone that should have been there was...with the notable exception of the photographer and features writer for Southern Living.  They totally missed an opportunity to be dazzled.  I doubt that they were asked...but in retrospect...they should have been.  I would have loved to have been in the hostess picture...except that this one is the one that they would have used.

I was standing in the back.  I was standing directly beside the second person on the left and directly behind the third person on the left.  No, I was not employing my super power of invisibility.  I just didn't have on heels.

There were a lot of people there, but not so many that the local Fire Department needed to come by and tell us that we'd exceeded the maximum occupancy.  All came bearing bright smiles and lovely gifts.   

The house was perfect.  It is stunningly beautiful even on its worst day, and its owner will not rest until it lives up to her standards.  There are a lot of things that I know to be true in life...and this is certainly one of them.  We arrived an hour early like an army of ants to arrange food and get to our assigned jobs. 

Our first stop was into the room where the food was to be presented.  On the table were two of the most gorgeous flower arrangements I've seen in some time.  The colors were white and green and that was echoed in every detail on that table. 

But the flowers...OH! the flowers.  I'm not even going to try to describe them.  I'm going to let you see them instead.  Let's just say that there's beautiful and there's scary-over-the-top-unbelievably-ridiculously gorgeous. 

That's me in the middle to help you get some scale as to how big these arrangements were. 

Here's the view that Southern Living would have taken.  I'm so serious.
Did I happen to mention that there was another massive arrangement in the other room?  No?  Well, here it is...

This display of amazingness is in direct contrast to anything I've been able to throw together using clippings off of my own bushes or crepe myrtles outside.  I'm not completely comfortable with even that, although I did learn that it was okay to at least try when I was in "Apples of Gold" at church. 

(If you'd like to relive that whole "Apples of Gold" experience, you can read about in its entirety here:

The food was pretty awesome as well.  I contributed cheesecake bites and chocolate dipped strawberries.  However, there wasn't one thing on that table that I was apathetic about...which is both wonderful and terrible at the same time.  The terrible being wanting to partake more than one should.

Finger sandwiches...chicken salad and cucumber (that's paprika on top of the cucumber sandwiches.)

There are my strawberries and cheesecake bites (and chocolate covered pretzel rods.)  There were mini-cupcakes (strawberry with white icing) in the back and lemon squares in the front.  All excellent. 

The white tulle with ribbon has Hershey's kisses wrapped up inside them.  And look at that fruit platter!  What you may not be able to see is that the grapes on the left were rolled in orange juice and then sugar.  Those went quickly...

Monogrammed nuts holders.  Cute, yes?

This was the actual tea.  Okay, it was fruit tea...but whatever.

I made enough for guests to partake.  While I admire and appreciate people who are worried about how everything looks...I'm more concerned with how everything tastes.   I was told not to overprepare because nobody will eat the food.  And for the most part, that is probably somewhat true.  People are more weight conscious than they used to be, and I'm not in the full blown throes of frequent party-giving what do I know?

Maybe my view is just shockingly different because I look at the table not as a prop...but as a bountiful expression of food as a gift to the guests.  A celebration of the upcoming nuptuals...getting to see people we don't get to see nearly often enough...and the chance for the "girls" to get together.   I want the food to be inviting enough that someone is willing to blow her allotment of calories for the week.  I mean, to me, that's the whole point.  Why bother putting something out there that one can pick up at Publix and eat in the privacy of her own home wearing a pair of sweatpants and no makeup?

I say...make that table a gastric den of inequity!

Perhaps I just have an appreciation for party food that is like people tell me that wine lovers have.  To me, wine is something that you tolerate or put in certain dishes like shrimp scampi or chicken tetrazzini.  I know that it has different names and that you serve them with different dishes.  My brother-in-law, a Frenchman, tells me that the French view wine with the same reverence that we have for the National Anthem.  To is "life" and it is respected as such.  I suppose in a place where it was safer to drink the wine than the water at one time...I can absolutely appreciate that.

And although there was no wine there this afternoon, with sixteen might have been one of those occasions where partaking for medicinal purposes might have been acceptable.

Yes, sixteen y'all.

Sixteen capable, wonderful, talented, experienced hostesses.

But was really quite lovely.  No issues at all.

I know that there were sixteen hostesses because I just counted from the back of the 8 x 8" ivory invitation with cocoa embossed printing and a cappachino colored silky bow tied at the top.  The bride-to-be's name is in larger font with her groom-to-be's name underneath.  She is shown as his "bride-elect" a term that we Southerners use so that the ladies that only know his family will understand why they are unlikely occurrence since both of them were raised here.  But it does look fancy and beautiful.  The hostesses are listed on the back along with where she is registered.

Speaking of gifts...the one below is from my friend, Nedra.  I have absolute gift envy over this one.  Yes, she painted this specifically for the bride.

Here were some of the gifts.  I won't put all of the pictures on here...but wow...just wow. 

So, the afternoon moved along with people coming and going with food replenished, conversations enjoyed, and audible "oohs" and "ahhhs" were heard in the gift room. 

After everyone had come and gone, the hostesses gathered with the bride and her family (and family-elect) in the living room.  Several women spoke about what marriage meant to them...and they added encouraging words that they hoped would bless the bride-to-be. 

Although many kind, wise, and loving words and thoughts were shared...the most poignant were the words that came from her mother...who is a friend of mine.  Her love for her daughter was shown with perfect clarity to all of us through her words...her expression...and her sweet voice.

(Of course there was a box of Kleenex nearby.)

I love the concept of blessing the bride.  Of telling her that planning the wedding is stressful but also fun...but that marriage isn't always a cakewalk.  It has its moments of wonder and beauty...but it also has its moments of difficulty.  That two families are presenting the best that they have to offer to each other and will ultimately create something entirely new.  But in spite of that...there isn't so much gain.  Each family is gaining a new child.  My friend and her husband are gaining a son...and the groom's family is gaining a daughter.

Which is exactly as it should be.

The other recurring theme reflected the beliefs of the women gathered there...a reminder that there aren't just two in a marriage...but three...when God is at the center of it.

Wise words.  Wonderful women.  Amazing.

I did not speak up in the room today.  I did not feel led to do.  But I will share what I would have said right here:

Love each other strongly.   

Remember that even when you were unaware of it...people have been intervening in your life through coaching, loving, praying, teaching, or just being interested in you as you grew up.  Return the favor and pass it on.  Appreciate that investment in you.  Honor it. 

Look to each other and find out how to best leave your mark as a couple in this world.  But as you do...don't forget to look up as well.  Figure out what God has planned for you...and do that.  Your dreams will pale in comparison to His dreams for you.

And finally, check out that "Song of Solomon" book in the Bible.  Live it. 

I had a wonderful time today.  It was a little bit stressful at times with the anticipation of getting it just right...but anything that is worth doing generally is.  I was honored to be able to play a small part in making it happen.

I wish Haley and Peter all of the best...and hope that they will have every happiness.  Every happiness.

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