The Pembroke Cosplay Tea Parties were created by cosplayers Lolita and SakiB, who wanted to host a themed cosplay social gathering outside of conventions. The tea parties feature elegant food, decorations, and of course costumes which correspond to each year's theme determined by the hosts.
Following the success of the first Pembroke Cosplay Teaparty in 2006, Lolita and SakiB decided to make the teaparty and annual event. For their second year, the pair picked a Marie Antoinette/Colonial-era theme, and attendees focused on the period of clothing style as a basis for their costumes rather than a cast list of characters as had happened the previous year. As a result, the costumes ran the gamut from 18th-century meets Lolita to pirates, and bouffant hair styles to American revolutionaries. The event was once again held at Herring Run Park, this time transformed into a garden of Versailles. In addition to enjoying tea and delicious treats, the party included games of dominoes, croquet, and photo shoot sessions with the event's official photographer, Christa Newman. Once again, the party was a great success, and its founders hope to continue the tradition next year.
I had so much fun at last year’s Wonderland teaparty that I didn’t think twice about whether or not I should attend – going was a definite! Unlike last year, I planned ahead for the theme, and decided to make a brand new costume specifically for the event. I had wanted to make Felicity Merriman’s blue gown from The American Girl Collection ever since I was a little kid, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Although not French, the revolutionary-era design still fit with the other costumes being planned by the group. I also made tea-appropriate lemon biscuits to bring to the event and headed out to the park. When I arrived at Herring Run, tables of petite fours and flowered tea sets dotted the area as guests, dressed in tri-corner hats and corsets, basked in the afternoon sunshine. SakiB and Lolita were dressed as an appropriately aristocratic French Duke and Duchess, while ChibiRinoa and Henry were another adorable duo as a Lolita-style Madame and Monsieur. Courtney arrived decked out as a beautiful Flower Maiden, while Sketch was armed-to-the-teeth as a Pirate Captain. B-Kun and Annie took a more American Colonial look as 18th-centruy Patriots, and Crazy Flower, not to be outdone, dressed as the Queen Marie Antoinette herself, complete with the famous towering hairstyle.
The weather for the day couldn’t have been more perfect; the sun shone brightly but the hot, sticky heat and humidity present at last year’s event was gone, and everyone seemed more than comfortable in their fancy attire. It was nice to hang out with everyone, especially since I had gotten to know several of them better since the Wonderland party. Courtney and I sipped tea while playing a few rounds of dominoes, the rules of which we are still not completely clear on. I also joined ChibiRinoa and Henry for croquet, and caught up with Sketch, who offered to give me a ride to PortCon this year so I can bring a life-size Pegasus with my Chibimoon outfit. I also found myself more able to take interesting photos now that I was more familiar with the guests, and got some fun candid shots. Our photographer from last year, Bruce O’Bryan, was unfortunately unable to make the tea party date, so Christa volunteered to take photos for the day. She did an excellent job posing us and going to adventurous lengths to snap the perfect shot – including balancing on rocks over running water and wading through neck deep foliage. I even got a photo of her in one of her precarious positions, ready to capture a bunch of adorable pics of ChibiRinoa and Henry canoodling across the stream. She also got some wonderful shots of my Felicity costume; I can’t thank her enough!
Although I’ve become slightly more used to the stares of strangers when out in public in costume, the gorgeous weather had attracted more locals than last year who were quite interested in our event. Many stopped to ask us about our hobby and the party itself. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the entire event, as I had a family graduation party to attend in the late afternoon. After changing into regular clothes in my car, I went to say goodbye to the group, who had absolutely no idea who I was. It was only then I realized that in the year or so we’d all known each other, no one there had seen me with my actual hair! Sketch was the first to recognize me and was blown away by how different I look without a wig on. It was all pretty entertaining. Overall, it was another excellent outing and a fantastic way for cosplayers to make friends with locals who share their hobby and improve friendships within the community. Thanks once again to the organizers, and I hope these continue to be such a wonderful time to meet fellow costumers!