By Andy Labdon
Since its inception in 2014, the Princess Tea Party hosted by the Wadena Baptist Church has grown into something of a phenomenon. The event has seen attendance triple in three years, from 100 attending in 2014 with one sitting, to around 300 this year with three sittings.
Preparations, says Karri Irvine, “are constant, always on the back burner, but the real work will start four or five days before the event. So, this year eighteen volunteers came in on Monday to start the setup, decorating the basement of the church, ironing table clothes, and getting tables ready for the Saturday party.”
Each sitting lasts for about two hours. A special backdrop is also created for memorable photographs. This year a stunning backdrop of weather beaten timber, resembling the side of an old farm building, dotted with greenery and pink flowers plus a number of fairy lights to accent the theme. Particular attention is paid to the decorations and details in the settings, as well as the craft and story time. When guests arrive there is audible reaction.
“You can hear the wows and gasping, as they feel overwhelmed with the attention to detail and the decorations of the hall,” adds Tim’s wife Karri.
So, if the Princess Tea Party does not charge admission, and it’s not a fundraiser, why do it?
“Ultimately it’s a way for the church to show the love of Jesus and that we are all loved by God,” reflected the Irvines.
“We have seen the women in the church rise up and share the message of Jesus with others,” said Karri.
As to growth in the event, however, they both said there are no plans to expand it. Moving to another venue would cause the tea party to lose its charm, said Tim.