This is What Happens at Mama's First Bridal Tea of Summer
For example, a bridal tea is much more efficient than a bridal shower because the hostesses can get all the gifts opened, sorted, recorded (do NOT forget those thank-you notes!) and tastefully displayed as everybody else enjoys one of the South's tried-and-true recipes for bridal shower punch while taking down some petit fours and cheese straws. Then Mama can just breeze through and evaluate the quality of the bride's loot, say her goodbyes, and salvage at least part of her afternoon.
The punch should be light and refreshing to cut the sweetness of the petit fours. (Mama's still not over that foamy, lime-green punch from the seventies. She thinks something with cranberry juice and ginger ale would just be divine.) And please tell her the cheese straws are homemade.
Fortunately, she had a word with the first bride of the season before the registry was complete and advised her to choose the same sterling silver pattern as her sisters so they can borrow from each other for large gatherings. (The bride initially suggested that perhaps she didn't need silver because she and the groom "are casual people." Mama stared her down and said, "Do you honestly expect your grandmothers to give you towels?" Point made. Point taken. Silver chosen.)
Also, none of this "we don't want any fine china" nonsense. Mama thinks every bride needs six place settings, the salt and pepper shakers, one platter, and a gravy boat to fill the display case in her china cabinet and at least 10 to 12 more place settings to actually feed people. That way, there's no need to take her china cabinet apart just to serve the beef tenderloin. It's all about efficiency.
Once the inaugural bridal tea of summer rolled around, Mama had a chance to nibble butter mints from her glass dessert plate, sip some punch, blot her lipstick with a paper napkin engraved with first names of the bride and groom, and check out the gifts to see if this modern generation still knows what's what. Overheard by Mama amid the gift displays:
"All I'm saying is that in MY hometown, nobody in their right mind would give a Craftsman belt sander as a wedding gift!" [Mama couldn't agree more.]
"Tell Sissy to keep the bows! We'll use them for the rehearsal bouquet! And don't cut them! We need the bows to tell us how many babies she'll have." [Mama thinks that girl better pray for a bow shortage.]
"Reckon who's doing the flowers for the church and the reception hall?" [Mama can only hope there's no strange floral theme—like cactus.]
"Oh, look! She got one of those expensive coffee makers that does espresso and everything!" [Unless the bride's opening a Starbuck's, Mama thinks she ought to trade in that coffee monstrosity for some casserole dishes and a vacuum cleaner.]
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Mama says we might as well go ahead and include all of Sissy's closest sorority sisters and the girl cousins. That will give us an even 30 bridesmaids.