Funnily enough, I had this idea for my 21st but never executed it. It’s obviously been brewing subconsciously for the past decade and decided to pop out when I made the decision to enter my 3rd decade with a bang!
So I had a few basic ideas (serving cocktails in teacups has always been on the list!), but once I got Pinterest-ing I just went crazy! I was soon ordering bits and pieces and was op-shopping weekly (and then closer to daily!!) for mismatched tea cups and other goodies.
For a a few reasons I decide to enlist the help of Isabelle Reynolds (this wonderful girl is on Instagram as @reynolds_isabelle), an event planner our caterers recommended. We sat down and brainstormed, and she channeled my ideas into one seriously amazing sounding 30th!! She took on some of the DIY jobs (the flamingo croquet set, painted red roses and an amazing centre piece clock - to name a few), and helped me source some things I was finding tricky (because she seems to know someone or something about everything I was clueless about!). But probaby the best part, she was actually excited to be doing it!!
Good food was a must, and I booked in Grand Bistro (our fave local cafe) as soon as I decided to have a party. We decided on canapés plus platters of food that would create the “tea party” vibe I was going for. I picked out my favourites from their menus and had a meeting with both Damien (chef and owner) and Justine (front of house and owner) to come up with a killer plan for the party.
Fast forward months of Etsy shopping, op shop selecting and crafternoons, party week was here!!
Isabelle and I arrived at the house the morning of the day before, with 2 car loads packed to the brim plus a truck!! It was like Christmas unpacking the boxes, as I’d forgotten so much of what I’d been collecting for the months leading up. Isabelle and I had spoken about the set up, so we both got straight to work. The Friday was a long day, with both of us setting up non-stop - Isabelle outside and me inside - running ideas past each other and asking for advice. By Friday afternoon it was mostly set up and looking darn fab (and I was exhaustedddd haha!)
The day of the party, having Isabelle meant that I could go get my hair and make up done, and leave her to worry about the final touches! I felt great and totally got to enjoy my hair and make up experiences stress free. Both Megan from Vibe and Maddy from Glam both totally went with the theme and I walked out feeling very Disney princess!!
I asked guests to arrive at 2pm sharp, because I wanted a grand entrance into the main space that was so beautifully set up. (Let’s forget the part where I wasn’t ready at 2 and frantically making batches of espresso martinis while everyone arrived!!)
2pm espresso martinis were served in the courtyard. This area symbolised Alice following the white rabbit down the hole and into the room with the teeny door, hence the “drink me bottles” to shrink us all to fit through to Wonderland...
Just after 2, we entered into the main space which was set up like an enchanted Mad Hatters Tea Party. The Coach House's large sliding doors made the perfect entrance into the space, where we had one main table set up like a tea party, bubbling with flowers, vintage Alice in Wonderland books (one of the things that I loved collecting over the past months!!), tree slices and food by Grand Bistro on cake tiers. I was in charge of a majority of the indoor spaces and I'm really happy with how they turned out! They definitely gave off the 'wow' factor I was going for!! In this main space we also had a secondary area set up in a similar tea party style, using an old door as a coffee table by the fire. The bar and EPIC dessert table were also in this space.
The dessert bar was something, along with the main tea party table, that was in the concept from the word go. I loved how it all came together (and how delicious every single element on the table was!!). The cake and biscuits were custom made by Esther Scott (@esther_sugarygoodness) and were the centre piece for the table. I've used Candy Bar Sydney before and have always been happy with their fast delivery and sheer volume of different lollies! I ordered my favourite and they looked fabulous in vintage and new lolly jars, bowls and plates. I couldn't go without adding my absolute favourite chocolate brand, local babe Ms Peacock to the table (I actually picked up the honeycomb only a couple of days before because I simply didn't trust myself with it in the house!!). I also had Libby and Krystel bring slices and cupcakes (which may or may not have been my main source of food for the following days!). As well as styling the table in a similar way to the main tea party, I added in my custom Little Pegg set of painted Alice in Wonderland peggy dolls - these were one of the first things I ordered for my party!
Outdoors we had two areas set up as well. Despite the windy 10 degree day, they were both quite sheltered from the weather (another venue win!!) and, with hired heaters, ended up getting used a lot!
Turning right we set up the Queen of Hearts area. Isabelle set this area up and I loved it! We didn’t have a real vision for this area until we visited the location, but it didn’t take long for ideas to start flowing!! We had a photo booth with card backdrop and a throne, a “paint the roses red” where Isabelle added props to a real rose bush, and also the Queen’s croquet on the lawn.
To the left we had an Absolem space set up. The main attraction to this area was the Hookah we had set up (which we sourced online and in a store in Greenacre.) Isabelle styled it with a giant papier mache mushroom and a clay Absolem that I’d made. Basically everything blue we had went into this area, and I was so happy with how it came together.
Once everyone walked through the front doors (where they were welcomed with amazing cheesy arancini - one of my favourite canapes of the night by Grand Bistro), they were told to go on a hunt for a tea cup and saucer to use for the duration. Some took the hunt very seriously, hunting for one they loved, or that matched their outfit. One guest fell so in love with her mismatched set that it now has a lovely new home with her!!
Everyone then took their cup to the bar to get filled up (with a tea pot, OBVIOUSLY!!) by Aldo - our super fun bartender from Grand Bistro. We had cocktails, wine and a few other bits - and drinks were flowing (heavily!!) into the morning!
Holy moley it was hard to find an outfit! I had this idea in my head, but I couldn’t make it work! I bought and returned 8 dresses and 2 skirts before this outfit came together. After putting on so much weight, I couldn’t find anything I felt great in! So I took a serious leap of faith in a new vision I had - no trying on when you get things custom made!! So to say I was panicked in the weeks leading up to the party is an understatement!
Elizabeth at Piece by Piece Home makes one off skirts, clutches, cushions and other fab things. I told her I was dressing as Alice and she pulled out fabrics she thought would suit (from her breathtaking stash!). She was unbelievably quick with the turn around and I was so happy with the service!
I’d bought from One of a Kind before and a jacket popped up in my Instagram feed and I suddenly had a vision. I knew I was too late for a custom order, but I just HAD to check!! Sarah painted up a gorgeous design based on my brief, sourced the jacket, painted it and express posted it to me. Not only did my jacket come on time, but it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Absolutely gorgeous and something I’ll have forever and ever!
The tutu that I changed into I bought a few years ago from Etsy, and I decided to add extra tulle to it (15m extra!! That morning!! With all the spare time I had!!) because it was never full enough.
I teamed my skirt(s) with a beautiful Witchery shirt, white stockings and an old pair of comfy boots. We all know I love my earrings and I actually had 2 pairs to decide between on the day (tough choice because I loved them both!!), but went with a silver mirror tea party set from Kenzie Collective.
All in all a great day and night was had. It was even worth getting up early and packing it all away to be out by 10am!!
So many helpers in the process (I can’t list them all but my nan helped me source and make props, Libby made delicious slices for the day, Emma brought over 50 things we’d forgotten at home, my mum and aunty helped us load and unload 3 carloads worth of ‘stuff’ back home, and Matt worked his butt off to pay for it all (he also ran around like a Mad Hatter - haha - that day to do last minute jobs, and also helped pack and unpack it all! Oh and continuously calmed me down in the week leading up to it!!) but I truely couldn’t have done it without Isabelle! She went above and beyond every second she was with me and was definitely a fantastic investment for the event!!
Styling, set up, custom props, florals, pack down, unlocking of accidentally locked bedrooms, toilet paper finding, tip runner, general helpfulness - Isabelle Reynolds (Instagram @reynolds_isabelle)
Catering and wait staff - Grand Bistro (Instagram @grandbistro)
Location - The Couch House at The Rift, Bowral (Instagram @therift_bowral)
Cake and Biscuits - Esther Scott (Instagram @esther_sugarygoodness)
Lollies - Candy Bar Sydney (Instagram @candybarsydney)
Chocolate Coated Honeycomb - Ms Peacocks (Instagram @ms_peacock_fine_chocolate)
Heating - Action Hire, Braemar
Hand Painted Peg Dolls - Little Pegg (Instagram @littlepegg)
Outfit - Hair - Vibe Salon (Instagram @vibesalonbowral)
- Make Up - Glam (Instagram @glam_bowral)
- Skirt - Piece By Piece Home (Instagram @piecebypiecehome)
- Shirt - Witchery (Instagram @witcheryfashion)
- Jacket - One of a Kind Denim (Instagram @oneofakind.denim)
- Earrings - Kenzie Collective (Instagram @kenziecollective)
- Brooch (worn like belt) - Hungry Designs (Instagram @hungrydesigns)
- Collar Chain - Fox and Rose (Instagram @foxandrose)
Concept, styling, set up, pack down, stressing - me!! (Instagram @exerciseplusextrafries)
Here are a few photos from the day.....