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New Orleans bridesmaids tea

If you've got a bridesmaid's event coming up, do it New Orleans-style with pots of tea

From burying a bourbon bottle to keep the rain at bay to the second line marching band in New Orleans, Southern weddings are ingrained with long-standing traditions. One of our favorites is the New Orleans bridesmaids' tea.

Hosted by the bride, the bridesmaids' tea celebrates friendship, family and the hard work bridesmaids put into your special day. Plus, there’s a very special dessert involved: the charm cake. Here are six tips to make your NOLA-style bridesmaids' tea special.

Keep it intimate
No need to invite the whole wedding guest list. Include your bridesmaids, maid of honor, flower girls, mothers, grandmothers and any other close female family members.

Host where you feel comfortable
While you may prefer to host it at your home, you can hold the gathering elsewhere and skip the clean up at the end. Tea at a local coffee shop, a hotel lobby or one of your favorite restaurants are all viable venue options. Make sure to book far enough in advance to secure sufficient seating or a private room.

Make it as fancy as you want
Some brides choose to keep it casual while getting ready for the big day (think rollers and robes) and others go full throttle by wearing white gloves and their Sunday best. Either route works as long as everyone feels comfortable.
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Give your bridesmaids a gifts 
If you have a small gift for the maids, the tea time is the perfect chance to show your appreciation for all of their help. A tea box or set of tea cups, though a little obvious, make a good choice. Makeup and perfume are easy options, as well. Or look for something more personal that will really make the gesture memorable.

Stick with a light meal
Say yes to finger foods, small pastries and salads for this event. A rented venue often suggests foods that pair best with the tea being served. If you can, delegate to them and save yourself the additional planning.

Don’t forget the charm cake
Move the typical desserts to the side, because a New Orleans-style bridesmaids' tea isn’t complete without a charm cake. In a tradition as entertaining as it is delicious, this is where single ladies get to pull a ribbon that will decide their future. While most venues will be able to provide one from a local baker, we recommend making one yourself following the recipe below.

New Orleans Vanilla Charm Cake
Note: While you can technically make a charm cake out of just about any layer cake you'd like, we like the homey, er, charm of making one from a bundt cake. Once you've got your cake baked and decorated, you'll want to insert charms attached to ribbons. under the bottom of the cake. Some of the most popular charms include a horseshoe for good luck, an anchor for future adventures, a ring for the next to be engaged and a telephone for good news to come. You can find more charm ideas here.

Serves: 8 to 10
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla frosting of your choice, for decorating
Charms and ribbons (see note)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan.

Mix sugar, butter and eggs in stand mixer at medium speed until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add milk and vanilla; mix well. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Gently loosen cake from pan with knife and slowly move it to a wire rack. Let cool completely before drizzling with frosting and filling with charms. Serve.

Read more about making a New Orleans Charm Cake here