I love weddings fused with traditions—there is nothing more beautiful than celebrating a union while honouring your heritage and culture. The Chinese tea ceremony is among one of my favourites—it is a tradition about gratitude, love and respect for family. If you are Chinese and planning a wedding with tea ceremony, here are some tips and common etiquettes to follow!
The Chinese tea ceremony symbolizes the bride and groom’s respect for each family member. By taking the time to kneel down and serve them tea, the newlyweds humble themselves and show the gratitude they share for (both of) their families, as well as the love they have for their new extended family members.
This tradition actually dates back over 1200 years ago during the Tang Dynasty! This formal occasion commenced with the bride serving her family tea first, in private, before the ceremony where she would join her husband in exchanging vows. This was followed by the newlyweds serving tea to the groom’s family. More commonly nowadays, the bride and groom will serve tea to both of their families prior to the ceremony. They start with the parents (some families prefer to start with the grandparents) and trickle down the family tree from there.
Order of Service:
Great-Uncles and Great-Aunts
Uncle and Aunts
Elder Brothers and Sisters
How to serve the tea is also important because the etiquette has been passed down through generations. The bride and groom should always serve the tea with two hands, bowing slightly forward, preferably kneeling. When serving, the parents and family members should not have to move or stand up to receive the cup. The bride or groom should also give and receive the cup with both hands. After each person has drank their tea, they hand the bride and groom envelopes called red pockets/‘lai see’/‘hong bao’. These paper or carton envelopes are red in colour, representing good luck and acting as a symbol to ward off evil spirits. These gifts are also meant to help the couple start their new life. Within them is typically cash, but some prefer to put jewelry inside. If you are wondering what the proper amount of money is to put in the envelope... there is no set amount but the most common amounts are even numbers. Avoid 4 as it is an unlucky number according to Chinese customs!
More photos from this shoot here.