Are your parents expecting a Chinese tea ceremony on the day of your wedding? What happens at a Chinese tea ceremony? Who will serve tea to who? In what order do you serve tea to? Who's house should the tea ceremony be conducted at? What to wear at the Chinese tea ceremony? Who runs the tea ceremony?
Starting to panic? Well sweetheart, don’t despair! We are going to give you a rundown on the basics of running a Chinese tea ceremony, so you can have the wedding you have always dreamed of and honour your cultural background at the same time.
Let me first give you a little briefing of the tradition first. In the olden days when there were arranged marriages, the tea ceremony was when the bride was formally introduced to the groom's family after vows were exchanged (yes, this was the awkward moment when the bride meets everyone for the first time… I am sure yours won’t be like this at all!).
What happens at a Chinese tea ceremony and what do you have to do?
The tea ceremony for the groom’s side is usually in the morning before the ceremony with the bride’s family. However, working with modern day wedding logistics, it is now more commonly conducted at the bride's house after the "gatecrash" games and the "fetching of the bride from her room".
The groom is on the left of the bride, with the father facing the bride and mother facing the groom. The parents are usually served first, then the grandparents, granduncles/aunts, uncles/aunts, and then elder siblings.
Should you kneel? Well, in the traditional sense, the new couple is required to kneel while serving their elders tea. However, in some families, bowing is accepted. It’s best to check first, but whatever you do, it’s good to show some form of ‘bending’ as a sign of respect. As Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde, the “bend and snap has a 98% success rate.” Amen girlfriend! (Though I think we’ll leave the ‘snap’ out on the day…)
After the elders drink the tea, each one (not including unmarried elders) usually hands you and your new hubby a red envelope filled with either money or jewellery. Prepare yourself for people insisting you wear the jewellery immediately! (Having jewellery placed on you by your family make gorgeous photo opportunities) Afterwards, you as a couple will also present red envelopes filled with money to younger siblings who have helped you serve tea; it’s supposed to bring good luck and fortune to them.
Choosing the tea and tea set
Teas that are known for their sweetness are perfect for Chinese tea ceremonies as they represent a happy union (and the sweet sweet love between you and your husband). You can use sweetened red or black tea, but if you’re after a little extra bling bling, lotus seeds and red dates are a pleasant addition as they both represent fertility (and we all know that traditional elders are crazy about wanting grandchildren!).
The tea set is traditionally a crucial part of the gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom’s. This means your family is in charge (but don’t be scared!). Tea sets are available in modern and traditional styles, with the ‘double happiness’ word, phoenixes, dragons and flowers being popular decorations.
These days, it is more common to rent the tea set as there is little opportunity to re-use it after the wedding and of course there’s no wastage!
Choosing your Chinese tea ceremony dress
Since it is a traditional Chinese ceremony, it would be more appropriate to wear a traditional Chinese dress. This usually is red in colour, adorned with golden decorations of phoenixes, dragons and clouds. In Northern China, a one-piece frock is usually worn while in a Southern China it is usually a two-piece dress. If you’re into traditions, you can also wear a red veil/tulle on your head.
Depending on what specific culture you are honouring, the different types of dress can include: “Kwa”, “Kua” ,“Qun Kwa”, Qi Pao, Cheongsam, Ao Dai the names go on.
We can help you
We’ve helped many brides prepare for their tea ceremony; decorations, tea sets, tea recipes, Qi Pao and Qun Kwa rentals, we've got your back! In particular, we can help put together a run-sheet TAILOR MADE for your wedding! We love taking the stress away from planning and coordinating tea ceremonies for the modern day Australian couple who wants to honour their cultural background. (Get in touch with us if you could do with some help!)
So, are you ready for action!? I know all this may sound a little serious and intimidating at first, but always remember it’s your wedding day; relax and enjoy the moment, enjoy the tea ceremony, and everyone will enjoy it with you!