Many Chinese couples that get married today have adopted more western traditions like opting for white wedding dresses and western-style receptions. In modern Chinese weddings though, the tea ceremony has remained one of the most significant traditions. At AGI Studios, we specialize in Asian wedding photography, and the tea ceremony is one of our favorites to capture. Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese Tea Ceremony.
What is the Chinese Tea Ceremony?
The Chinese tea ceremony takes place on the day of the wedding and is when the bride and groom serve tea to their parents, in-laws, and other family members. It’s where the newlyweds show respect to the elders in their families, and they, in turn, show their acceptance of the marriage, usually by giving gifts in return. The whole tea ceremony is meant to symbolize the union of the two families.
When Do You Do the Chinese Tea Ceremony?
Traditionally, the tea ceremony would be hosted the morning of the wedding at the groom’s home and in the afternoon at the bride’s home. Couples nowadays typically do it whenever fits best on the wedding day. Some couples opt to do it in the morning before the other wedding festivities, while others do it after the vow ceremony but prior to the dinner reception. Some couples even blend western and Chinese traditions together and do the tea ceremony during the reception. If you’re worried about time on the wedding day, you can even do the tea ceremony the night before after the rehearsal dinner.
Where Does the Chinese Tea Ceremony Take Place?
The tea ceremony typically takes place in the bride and groom’s respective family homes. These days many modern Chinese couples live away from their families, so the tea ceremony may take place outside the home like in a hotel room or private room. If you want a more public tea ceremony, you can even have it at the rehearsal dinner or during the reception.
Who Attends the Tea Ceremony?
The tea ceremony is extremely important, but who should be included? Typically the couple, their parents, and close family members such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles take part in the ceremony. The bridal party is usually present, with bridesmaids acting as attendants making the tea, handing over teacups, and holding any gifts the newlyweds receive.
What Happens After the Tea Ceremony?
Immediately after the tea ceremony, the parents will usually offer some wise words and gifts. These gifts are usually lai see (red envelopes of cash) to symbolize luck and good fortune. The groom’s parents may also offer the bride gold jewelry, which the bride should put on right away as it might otherwise seem rude.
What to Wear to the Tea Ceremony?
For the tea ceremony, brides typically wear a wedding cheongsam or qipao, which are traditional red Chinese dresses. The groom will often be in his wedding attire (such as his suit or tux), and the bridal party will usually be in their wedding attire as well, depending on when the tea ceremony takes place. The parents and other elders taking part in the tea ceremony will be dressed nicely as well.
Should You Have a Photographer There?
There are no rules around photography during the tea ceremony! It’s entirely up to the couple whether they want to keep the tea ceremony private with no pictures, or if they want to have their wedding photographer there to capture the special moment. At AGI Studios, our team specializes in Asian wedding photography, so we know how to capture beautiful shots of the tea ceremony without disturbing the moment.
If you need a photographer to capture your wedding or photograph your Chinese tea ceremony, contact us today!