What to Wear to a Bridal Shower Tea Party as a Guest

Enjoy your scones and clotted cream with an elegant, but fun, look.

floral print blue dress

Photo by Karena Dixon Photography

These days, it's not unusual for a bridal shower to have a specific theme, and as of late, bridal tea parties are quickly becoming popular. Elegant, chic, and fun, this theme is sophisticated, but also a bit nostalgic as they bring to mind the tea parties you may have had as a child. That said, now that you're an adult, figuring out what to wear to this type of event can be difficult.

"Bridal teas are light, joyful occasions and you'll want your attire to match," says personal stylist Erika Cartledge. "Think bright, fun colors, floral prints, and airy fabrics. As with any bridal event, the vibe is celebratory and uplifting with a chic flair added." Luxury bridal fashion stylist Gabrielle Hurwitz also adds that these events can lean more demure and prim and proper. "It's often very feminine, both in terms of decor and the fashion," she shares.

Meet the Expert

  • Erika Cartledge is a personal stylist, style educator, and the founder of Your Chic Is Showing.
  • Gabrielle Hurwitz is a luxury bridal fashion stylist who works with brides and grooms to curate the wedding closets of their dreams.

Interested in learning more? Below, both Cartledge and Hurwitz further provide insight on what to wear to a bridal tea party as a guest. Be sure to take notes!

How to Decide What to Wear

There are a few things to take into consideration when trying to find an outfit for a bridal shower tea party, as highlighted below.

Season and Weather

The season in which the bridal tea party takes place will play a large role in your outfit decision. "It's a huge factor in deciding your attire, from materials and fabrics to sleeve lengths and shoe selection," Cartledge says. For instance, if the tea party takes place during the autumn or winter, you might want to opt for long sleeves and tights. For spring or summer events, lean into wearing sleeveless dresses and lighter fabrics like linen or cotton.


"A bridal tea party at someone’s home is likely to be slightly less formal than a bridal tea party held at a hotel’s tea room or a restaurant," Hurwitz says. "That said, there is an inherent formality to a bridal tea party no matter where or when it’s taking place." So, even if you think the soirée will feel casual, you should always opt for something more dressed up than everyday attire.

Dress Code

"If an invitation indicates dress code specifics—like skirts and dresses only—you'll want to follow the guidance provided," Cartledge says. However, if there isn't a dress code, you have a bit more flexibility in how you're able to style your look according to the season and venue.

Keep in mind that, in general, bridal tea parties are going to be elegant. "While you may not have to follow the Queen's protocols, guests should expect the event to have a certain level of formality, at least when it comes to your attire," Cartledge adds.

General Fashion Rules to Follow

According to Cartledge, bridal tea parties are a nice time to play around with your style and wardrobe. "Guests are expected to dress up and dress nicely, but there is still a lot of room for you to infuse your personality and personal style into the look," she says.


Both stylists also agree that guests can, and oftentimes should, keep things simple with their attire. "Avoid anything too skin-tight or short, instead focusing on knee-length or midi silhouettes that highlight your figure without looking like you're going to a club," Hurwitz advises. Therefore, a pretty cocktail dress, midi dress, or casual maxi dress are all great options.

If you're not comfortable in a dress, Hurwitz notes that a chic jumpsuit or pantsuit is a great alternative. "I love the idea of a matching silk blazer and pants, for example," she adds. And if you choose to wear pants, opt for something sleek and sophisticated, like tailored dress pants or a fitted jumpsuit.


In terms of colors and patterns, you have a lot of room to play around. "Florals are always a good idea for a bridal tea party, but don’t feel like you have to wear a floral print or other similar patterns," Hurwitz says. "Solid colors in pretty pastel shades and other feminine hues are also very appropriate."


When it comes to accessories, heels or a dressier ballet flat are both nice choices. What's more, don't feel pressured to wear gloves or a fancy hat, unless specified by the bride. "A fun hair accessory can be a nice touch, like a fascinator or even a headband," Hurwitz says. Cartledge also encourages guests to play into the theme with subtle touches like fashionable belts and unique jewelry.

What Guests Should Avoid Wearing

While there are no hard and fast rules to follow when going to a bridal tea party, there are some things you'll want to avoid. To start, it's important to remember that, as a guest, you should not wear white. "Stay away from any variation of solid white so that you don't end up twinning with the bride, or worse, be mistaken for the bride on her special day," Cartledge warns.

You should also stay away from anything that feels too casual, even if the tea party location seems informal. Hurwitz notes to steer clear of shorts, denim, or athleisure, as well as anything that can be seen as club attire, like mini skirts, sexy cut-outs, cleavage-baring tops, and skin-tight silhouettes.

Lastly, while pants are perfectly acceptable, avoid casual fabrics and styles like denim and khaki. "You'll want to go for dressier slacks and trousers," Cartledge says. "A well-fitting pair of trousers can be sleek and sophisticated, and add a unique twist to your bridal tea look."

  • What happens at a bridal shower tea party?

    A bridal tea party will typically take place around brunch time, earlier in the day or in the afternoon. A full tea is usually served, with foods like tea sandwiches, scones and jam, and clotted cream, with desserts like little cakes or cupcakes. But aside from the overall tea theme, you should expect pretty normal bridal shower activities to take place.

  • Do bridal tea party events have a formal dress code?

    Yes and no! The dress code will vary based on the bride's preferences, but in general, they are formal and semi-formal daytime events. That means you'll want to wear some variation of cocktail attire, whether it's a nice dress, skirt, and top, or an elegant pantsuit or jumpsuit.

  • What is the difference between a bridal tea and a bridal shower?

    The only difference between the two is that a bridal tea consists of a formal tea—complete with tea sandwiches and sweet treats—while a shower may not have that. Otherwise, they are the same event.

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