How to Host a Westernized-Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
We love it when our clients want to include traditions on their wedding day that represent their culture. Most frequently over the years, we have helped our couples host countless Chinese tea ceremonies.
The significance of the Chinese tea ceremony as part of a wedding day is to pay respects to parents and close family members, and thank them for all their love and support throughout the years. Back in the “olden days”, the couple would only serve tea to the Groom’s parents… these days, both sets of parents are included in this important wedding ceremony!
Timing of the Tea Ceremony
In terms of the timing of the ceremony, they can be held at many points throughout the wedding weekend, depending on your itinerary and preference:
The day before the wedding
Privately, the morning or early afternoon on the day of the wedding
During cocktail hour, in front of all guests who would like to watch
During dinner, as guests are eating, or immediately after dinner (before dancing starts!)
What Do you Need for a Chinese Tea Ceremony?
A tea set, including a tea pot and coordinating tea cups. A red tea set is especially auspicious! If a lot of relatives are participating, as your venue/caterer to provide extra tea or coffee cups, enough for all participants
Hot water. Again, ask your venue/caterer to provide a carafe of hot water that can be used to fill your tea pot.
Tea leaves. Whatever kind of tea leaves that you can get your hands on (loose tea leaves are better than tea bags)
Two chairs for the parents/relatives to sit on
Two pillows only if you will be kneeling (many couples just offer a deep bow these days)
A small table on the side, to place the tea pot, cups, and carafe on
An elder married lady or family member to guide/host the tea ceremony
Red envelopes with cash, or jewelry from the Parents/Relatives to give to the new couple
A traditional Chinese dress (aka cheongsam or quipao) for the Bride. Although sometimes for ease and simplicity, some Brides opt to just wear their wedding gown!
How to Host the Tea Ceremony
Fill your traditional tea pot with tea leaves and hot water from the carafe
Have someone gather all your relatives and/or guests (if the tea ceremony is part of your actual wedding reception), and make sure your photographer/videographer is present!
Typically starting with the groom’s parents, they will sit in the two chairs facing out towards the guests/observers. Some families opt to start with Grandparents, as a sign of respect.
The newlywed couple will kneel or stand (if bowing) in front of the Groom’s parents/grandparents. The Groom is on the right, the Bride on the left.
The elder woman who is assisting with the ceremony will pour the tea into the tea cups, and hand the cups to the couple.
The couple will bow and present the cups of tea to the parents or whoever is sitting in the chair.
Whoever is receiving the tea will take a sip and hand the cups back to the woman assisting.
Each parent will hand the new couple a red envelope. Or if they have jewelry, they will immediately clasp it on the bride’s neck or wrist.
Parents will often say a few words of well wishes to the couple.
Move on to the next family members!
Are you planning to incorporate a Chinese Tea Ceremony into your wedding day, but don’t know where to start?