August 6, 2020
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Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
Photography Maricle Kang
What is a tea ceremony?
A tradition for most Chinese weddings, the tea ceremony represents the formal introduction of the couple to their families, and demonstrates respect for all the years of love and care.
When is the tea ceremony?
Most of the couples I work with choose to have the tea ceremony for both families at the wedding venue, just before the dinner reception. This option works well for relatives who may not be able to make it early in the morning, and also allows the couple to have more time to themselves on the wedding morning.
Photography Maricle Kang
What is involved?
Traditionally, tea is served to the groom’s family using a tea set in the bride’s dowry, gifted by her parents. This tea set will then be passed down and used for the same tradition someday. As such, the bride will use her mother’s own tea set to serve her family.
Sweet tea is usually used during tea ceremonies because it symbolizes happiness in the newlywed’s marriage, and fosters good relations between them and their in-laws. Herbs like lotus seeds and red dates are often added because the Chinese pronunciations are synonymous to blessing the couple with fertility.
Gifts such as red pockets or jewellery, will be presented to the couple during the ceremony. If jewellery, the couple will often wear the pieces. Other gifts are placed on the tea tray, to be kept by the Maid of Honour, or Best Man.
PHOTOGRAPHY Denise Lin | VENUE Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Who is involved?
As a sign of respect, the couple serves tea to the elders in their family in order of seniority, and is served by their younger siblings. The groom’s sister or a female relative will often help pour and serve the tea during the ceremony.
Note: paternal relatives are served before maternal ones.
Traditionally, tea is served to elders while kneeling in front of them, though some families consider bowing to be sufficient.
Typical ceremony order
3- Uncles / Aunties (in order of seniority)
4- Elder Siblings
5- Elder Cousins (if present)
6- Younger Siblings
7- Nieces and Nephews (if present)
During the tea ceremony, the groom should be on the right, with the bride on the left. Female relatives should seat themselves across from the groom, while male relatives are seated in front of the bride.
Are you considering a tea ceremony for your wedding day? Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about incorporating your Chinese heritage. I hope you find this resource helpful!