Every culture has different traditions and special things they do to celebrate exciting moments in life! When I learned of the Chinese tradition of having a Tea Ceremony prior to the Wedding Ceremony I was really excited to be able to take part. If you know me at all you know I get out of my mind excited over new things and anything that involves a tradition or family custom I am all about it!!!
During a trip to Delaware this past summer for Craig’s cousin Leath’s wedding, his family started telling me all about what you do and what everything means. Basically, the Tea Ceremony is to express thanks to your elders on your Wedding Day. In the traditional Chinese Marriage Ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea to express their gratitude. It’s a way to say Thank You for raising us and bringing us to this point in our lives. The parents usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give the couple a red envelope ( Lai See ), which symbolizes good luck. Inside the envelope there is usually money of varying amounts. The elders may also give the couple gifts of gold jewelry, and may even place the jewelry on them during the ceremony. Another variant is that the bride serve tea to the groom’s parents, symbolizing that she is to become a part of their family. I am really excited to take part in our Wedding Tea Ceremony and can’t wait for everyone in my family to experience something special from another culture that I will now be a part of forever. I adore Craig’s family and am so blessed to be able to learn new things from them for many years to come!
The following information is from an article on Teasenze.com and you can find it HERE…
What is a Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony?
In a traditional Chinese wedding, the tea ceremony is one of the most significant events. It includes very formal introductions of the bride and groom and shows respect to their families. Historically, after they exchanged vows, the couple would serve tea to the groom’s family (the bride would have served tea privately to her own family that morning). Today, many couples choose to show respect to both the bride and groom’s families by hosting tea ceremonies for both sides. The earliest written record of tea ceremonies emerged during the Tang Dynasty over 1200 years ago. It was initially called cha dao (茶道）or the way of tea. Some Japanese monks traveled to China and brought it back to Japan. Influenced by Japanese culture, the tea ceremony became more grave and formal.
Since the early 1900s, Chinese weddings have modernized and partly follow western practice. However, the tradition of tea ceremonies in Chinese weddings has remained, and is still highly treasured today.
What is the meaning of a Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony?
In China, serving tea when guests come is a very traditional propriety. It is a significant way to show respects. In the wedding, this act is in respect and gratitude to the parents for all the years of love and care. Besides this, the tea ceremony is very meaningful in a wedding. Tea is the symbol of purity, stability and fertility. The purity of tea represents the love is pure and noble; the stability of tea stands for faithful love; the fertility of tea represents the family will have many children.
Traditionally, red dates, peanuts, longans and lotus seeds are added in the wedding tea, because in Chinese, reading these four ingredients in the above order sounds like “to have baby as soon as possible”, which is a very good wish for new couples.
What are the Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony steps?
The tea ceremony for the groom’s family is usually done in the morning while the ceremony for the bride is always done in the afternoon when the bride and groom have completed the bride’s home visit.
During a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, the groom should stand on the right and the bride should be on the left side. Their parents should sit on chairs and wait for the new couple to kneel and serve tea. The order of serving tea is very important. It shows how the couple respects their seniority. The parents will be served first, then the grandparents, grand uncles and aunts, uncles and aunts, and then elder siblings.
After the drinking of the tea, gifts for the bride and groom will be presented. Gifts are usually in forms of red envelopes with money or jewelry. And the couple should use the jewelry immediately. The younger siblings and cousins who help them serve tea will be blessed with a happy marriage or abundant wealth. These helpers also receive lucky red envelopes filled with money, called “lai see” which means “lucky”, from the bride and groom.
What kind of Chinese Tea and Ceremony Tea Set is used?
Any sweet tea that symbolizes sweetness is good for the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. It is believed to bring happiness to the couple and to foster good relations between the newlyweds and their new in-laws. You can use sweetened black tea for simplicity sake, but some traditional Chinese black teas are preferred because of the good sound of their names. Other herbs are added such as lotus seeds and red dates, symbolizing that the couple will have children quickly and continuously.
The Chinese wedding tea set is a meaningful keepsake of the wedding and an important gift from the bride’s family. It can be a family heirloom as well. In the future when the couples’ children get married, the tea set will be used and presented. Tea sets are available in modern or traditional Chinese styles. Chinese wedding tea sets with the ‘double happiness’ character, phoenix, dragons, peony or flower designs and gold trimmings are popular for Chinese wedding tea sets.
Dress for Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
In a Chinese wedding tea ceremony, a suitable dress is necessary. Bride and groom need to dress in red silk and the tulle veil should be red too. Tang suit and Hanfu (Most famous traditional costumes in China and known to the world) are most popular. Some popular design such as dragons and phoenix on the dress would be suitable for decoration.