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Tea Ceremony

The Chinese Tea Ceremony is a traditional ceremony where the bride and the groom pay respects to both families on their wedding day through the giving of tea and at the same time receive blessings of the marriage and gifts from their families and relatives. 

Traditionally, the tea ceremony is held for the groom’s family after the groom “wins” his bride from the door games, with the bride’s family tea ceremony held in the afternoon after the groom’s tea ceremony
 

Given that it’s a lot of time to travel back and forth between the two places, we’ve also seen the following variations:

  • The bride’s tea ceremony to be held at the bride’s house after the door games, and the whole wedding party to travel to the groom’s house for the groom’s side for tea ceremony

  • The bride’s tea ceremony to be held at the bride’s house after the door games before the ceremony and groom’s side for tea ceremony to be held after the ceremony and before the dinner reception

  • Both tea ceremonies held at the banquet hall before the dinner reception to ensure that all the key guests arrive on time. This would typically be after the ceremony and before the dinner reception
     

Ultimately, we would strongly recommend you to check in with both sets of parents to see if they’re ok with the timing.

Who Goes First

Traditionally, the groom's side of the family gets served first before the bride's family.

 

Order during the Tea Ceremony: 

  • Typically start with the parents, groom’s dad’s grandparents, groom’s mom’s grandparents, bride’s dad’s grandparents, bride’s mom’s grandparents.
  • Groom’s dad’s side of the family starting with the eldest – whether that be a great-aunt/uncle or groom’s dad’s siblings
     

At the end of the day, if you’re unsure, just ask your parents about who should be involved and who should go first for either side of the family

The Details

  • The groom will be on the right side facing the guests with the bride on the left, like the western ceremony. You’ll have the option to kneel and/or stand for the entire duration, or for a portion of it.
     

  • What’s in the tea? Any sweet tea will do since it’s a happy occasion. We’ve seen some families also add in dates, lotus seeds, but they’re typically reserved for the bride and groom. Either way, we just need to make sure we have access to hot / boiling water about 15 min. before the tea ceremony so we can start steeping tea in preparation.
     

  • How many cups? We often ask this question and get confused looks. If you’re serving tea to your mom and dad, should there be 2 or 4 cups? Should BOTH the bride and groom serve 1 cup each to BOTH mom and dad, or just 1 set?  
     

  • If you’re tight on time we recommend for you to request for any jewelry in advance and have this on before the tea ceremony. As well, besides your parents and grandparents, consider giving one cup per person.

Key Roles

Overall, involve your bridesmaids (and/or siblings) where possible since it’s an intimate family affair.

 

  • The Announcer - Traditionally, either a relative or a bridesmaid would call out the tea ceremony order. Our preference is for a relative who would know most of the guests participating in the tea ceremony, so they can help direct and facilitate. (We’re more than happy to facilitate the tea ceremony as well if you would like. Just let us know when we meet in person.)
     

  • The Gift Receiver - this person will be assisting you to receive any red pockets and record who gave which gift. Have a pen ready and a copy of the tea ceremony order. If it’s a red envelope, it might be easier to note down the # on the order if they don’t know the relatives. (e.g., if grandma is #2 on the order, simply mark down #2 on the envelope)
     

  • The Runner - someone who will pass the used cups back and bring out new teacups for the guests
     

  • The Washer - that’s usually us (Candy & Sally)! We’ll be in the background helping to pour/wash teacups so your bridesmaids could shine by your side. If you have extra people like a groomsman, we’re more than happy to get them to be involved too.  

Things to Consider

  1. Who will be providing the tea set? Will it be the same set used for both the bride & groom's families?
     

  2. How many cups will be served per person - will the bride and groom be serving a cup each to each family member, or will they be serving one cup together per family member?
     

  3. How many people/couples will you be serving? 
     

  4. Will you be serving tea to your ancestors?
     

  5. Who will be your helpers during the tea ceremony? 
     

  6. Are there any special decorations that you would like to prepare?