For some reason I was under the impression that career women these days were waiting until later in life to get married. Judging by the number of weddings I will be attending this summer involving some of my very best, well-educated friends, I am tempted think that this is not the case at all. No matter. While I continue to struggle on with the concept of "dating," it is my pleasure and privilege to celebrate in the happiness of my soon-to-be hitched girlfriends.
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At least I would be happy, if weddings involved just the wedding. But by the time you are signed up for the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, plus being bound to attend a destination wedding with accompanying festivities, plane ticket, hotel room, and several gifts, what started as a one-day ceremony has turned into several months of commitments with hundreds of dollars attached. I could complain--okay, confession, I have complained--but rather than looking at the whole, I have decided to focus on each event as an opportunity to let my inner party girl shine. But with all these events, the time and money spent, how does one participate while still leaving enough hours and dollars for one’s own search for a soul mate?
So it came to pass that as the Maid of Honor for my dear childhood confidante, Janna, I would take up the duties of throwing the bridal shower. My brilliant and creative hostess/mother had already been tasked with a bridal shower for a family friend two weeks before the one we threw for Janna. At that shower the bride-to-be insisted, and my mother eventually complied, with out-sourcing almost all of the party food. Buying party trays is simply not my mother’s way, nor is it mine, thus it wasn't even a possibility when considering the menu for my friend’s shower.
While Janna wondered how a room full of women of all ages from many corners of her life would find a way to interact socially at her bridal fete, Mother and I wondered how to do food that was not a luncheon but would delight and satisfy our guests and not take us away from having fun at the party ourselves.
Enter our brilliant idea for a fail-safe afternoon bridal shower: a bridal shower tea. Mid-afternoon tea was invented by the British for a reason. It is the time between lunch and dinner when some crust-less tea sandwiches and fluffy bite sized scones whet the palate enough to make one reach for seconds but not so much as to spoil one’s dinner. That is why a Bridal Tea is popular and the perfect way to entertain in a jiffy, with food and variety enough to please all generations of guests.
We settled on a list of three different tea sandwiches: smoked salmon, cucumber and watercress, and proscuitto. Each was moistened and sealed with a different flavored cheese. Crudite assembled on the fly with a quickly whipped wasabi cream cheese was effective and just curious enough to spark inquiries of interest from those assembled. Bite-sized scones meant cooking time was cut nearly in half compared to the full-sized version, shaving a few more minutes off the total prep time. Edamame cooked in about three minutes, drained, and salted stood up to a whole afternoon at room temperature on the hors d’ouvres table and was no worse off for it. We made the cupcakes for dessert the night before and frosted the morning of. Of course, if you are going to go outside the kitchen for one part of the party, dessert is one course where your guests will be none the wiser.
And then, a tea party must have tea. A selection of green and black teas with accompanying milk and sugar covers your hot beverage. But in case your party is held on a summer day when temperatures push the triple digits as it did the day of ours, ice tea in some variation is an absolute necessity. Even better, with a shot of vodka in each frosty glass of the beverage you have a lady-like cocktail that will help one and all deal with the absurdities of the whole wedding business.
I can’t tell you in honesty that this party was done from start to finish in under 30 minutes, but with a few cut corners, you could do it in pretty close to that, leaving plenty of time to dress, decorate, and party your inner bridesmaid away. You can wait for the day when some dear friend will return the favor and play hostess in your honor.
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