If you’ve been to the wedding of a Chinese individual (anywhere in the world!), you’ve probably been invited or at least seen footages/pictures of a Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony. The tea ceremony is one of the most significant event in a Chinese wedding – it is the moment when the bride gets formally introduced to the groom’s side of the family - and in today’s practice, vice versa.
The earliest record of tea ceremonies took place during the days of the Tang Dynasty, more than 1,200 years ago! In the very first few documented sessions, the newly wedded couple would serve tea to the groom’s family, after the exchange of vows. The bride would have served tea in a private setting earlier in the morning. However, such practise is rare today because many couples choose to show respect and honour both side of the families through the tea ceremony.
In China, serving tea is a way of showing respect. In a wedding, such an act shows respect and gratitude to the elder family members and parents.
Traditionally, the tea ceremony for the groom’s family is usually carried out in the morning and later in the afternoon for the bride’s side of the family. However, most couples of today carriy it out simultaneously.
Here’s a little guide for the less experienced:
- Organise positions: during a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, the groom should stand on the right and the bride should be on the left side. Their parents should sit on chairs and wait for the new couples’ kneel and tea serving.
- Communicate order of serving: The order of serving tea is very important. It shows how the couple respect their seniority. The parents will be served first, then the grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.
Some valuable pointers on serving which you can try to include in your ceremony:
- Serve tea with two hands holding the saucer and bow slightly forward (or kneel). Make sure parents don't have to move or stand up to receive the tea.
- Those receiving the tea should not hold the cup but the saucer as the tea cup itself can be hot. It's recommended to let everyone know this in advance.
- Once they've drank the tea, take back the tea cup with two hands, once again by holding the saucer.
- Gifts are now presented.
The couple will receive gifts from red packets to jewellery, depending on how closely related the family members are to the bride/groom. It is advisable for the couple to wear the jewellery immediately as a mark of appreciation.
Keep In Mind
If you plan on inviting the entire guest list to this ceremony, it might be a great idea to have someone explain the significance of the Chinese tea ceremony as it takes place.
Just like any traditional ceremonies, consulting the elders and parents on their inputs toward the ceremony is a thoughtful thing to do, of course, keeping in mind convenience and preference on what works best for both sides of the families.
Photography: Sih Han & Joon Han
Videographer: Ak studio house
Wedding Planner: Catherine & Claire
Makeup & Hairdo: Fivian Voon Makeup & Beauty
Emcee: William Lee
Wedding Gown: Dentelle Bridal
Decorator: In Esse Wedding