Fairytale parties encourage young princesses

Published 12:56 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

Golden chiavari chairs await birthday girls and their guests inside Tea Party Castle in Mt Laurel.

Darlene Self, who co-owns the business with Rebekah Mills, said they aimed to create a whimsical experience for young girls.

“We really truly want them to feel like they become princesses while they are here,” Darlene said. “We also try and get them to understand how hey can be princesses in their everyday lives by the way they treat people.”

Self originally dreamed of opening a teashop and occasionally hosting tea parties for girls. Self said she was elated when she discovered the Tea Party Castle concept.

“The thing that intrigued me,” Self said. “It raises the bar culturally for young ladies. It really does give us an opportunity to teach these girls how to be proper young women.”

When you walk into the shop, your eyes are met with ornate crystal chandeliers and valiant, bronze suits of armor. Bubblegum pink walls match the bubblegum pink Princess’ gown. Glitter covers everything, even the cashier stand.

The idea of the Tea Party Castle is to create a unique celebration for girls.

During birthday parties and Mom and Me Teas, each girl that walks in the door gets the royal treatment – their hair is done, they get to play dress-up and they are entertained.

“They sit up straighter, they hold themselves different once they have that dress and tiara on,” manager Carrie Self said. “It’s hard for me not to choke up at the sweetness of the expressions on the girls faces.”

Darlene Self said there’s something in it for adults too.

“Probably the best thing we do for moms and adults is that we take care of birthday parties 100 percent from start to finish,” Self said. “They’re not decorating or running after last-minute items.”

Carrie Self and Lindsay Cleveland, as well as the other maidens, perform at each birthday party and tea. The women perform mostly Broadway musicals such as “I Feel Pretty,” “In My Own Little Corner” and more. During the Mom and Me teas, mothers can bring one to two children for individual reservations. The teas are similar to a dinner theater but with lighter refreshments.

“It’s wholesome,” Carrie Self said. “Its not Taylor Swift and Hannah Montana. We teach them that we’re all princesses for different reasons.”

The business held a soft opening June 1. They’ve already hosted several birthday parties and are preparing for two Mom and Me teas July 1 and 3.