No one ever wants to get the Chinese Tea Ceremony at the Chinese wedding celebration wrong. So, here are a few do’s and don’ts to get you started. Obviously this is rather a simplified description and we would discuss this vital component with you and/or your parents more thoroughly to ensure that all requirements and needs are met.
Which tea set is used?
Traditionally, it was the bride’s parents that would include it as part of the dowry. However, most of the couples that we work with are more modern so having a Dragon/Phoenix or Double Happiness Tea Set is something that they simply do not feel is necessary to be part of the wedding keepsake. As their professional Chinese wedding planner, we can always help supply the appropriate choice of tea set for their tea ceremony.
To kneel, yes or no?
For some very traditional families, kneeling is a must because it shows great respect. For most families, we are part of the discussion about when to kneel, who to kneel before, etc. At times, the couple may be at odds with their parents, or even the parents can become at odds with the future in-laws. We can help mediate these discussions so that everyone feels respected and heard.
Who’s on the left and right?
Traditionally, the women is on the right side. Therefore she faces the male person sitting in the chair. However, some of the couples serve tea once in this standard formation and then they switch to serve the opposite person. Thus the people in the chair get served twice – once by the groom and then by the bride.
Who gets served first?
Again, traditionally speaking – it is the parents that get served tea first before the grandparents. However, in some cases the option of having grandparents go first is agreed upon. When it comes to mixed culture weddings, as the wedding planner we will sometimes interceed on whether the bride’s side or the groom’s side goes first. Usually it is the groom’s side that goes first, but a dialogue with the parents is essential so that no one feels that their toes were stepped on.
When is an extra cup of tea poured?
If a living member of the elder couple is absent, the other will drink on behalf of the absent spouse. However, tea is not poured out for a deceased spouse.
Please wash the cups!
If you do not have enough cups during the ceremony, then please remember to prepare hot water for washing the tea cups to prevent the spread of germs.
Thank your tea ceremony assistant.
At the conclusion of the tea ceremony, then the groom traditionally will need to provide a lucky red envelope to the assistant(s) as a thank you for their assistance.
Please comment below and let us know if you have encounter any other etiquette concerns expressed by your families. We also thank the following photographers for such fabulous images of our clients – The Art of Weddings, Luxography, Dave Abreu, Richard Emmanuel and Rosetta Li.