Wedding Tradition Breakdown: Chinese Tea Ceremony

Chinese couples getting married today have adopted a number of Western traditions, from white bridal gowns to huge wedding receptions. Even with all the modernization, one tradition that has stuck around is the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. This ancient practice is still highly treasured today and is considered to be the most important part of the wedding celebration for many Chinese families. Our wedding photographers have been lucky enough to capture this beautiful ceremony a number of times, so let’s break it down!



The earliest written record of tea ceremonies emerged during the Tang Dynasty, over 1200 years ago. It was initially called cha dao, or the way of the tea. During the first documentation of the event, the couple served tea to the groom’s family after the vows, with the bride serving her own family privately in the morning.




The tea ceremony was a way for the couple to be formally introduced as the bride and groom and show respect to their families. Tea has huge cultural significance in Chinese culture, and serving tea to someone is a sign of respect. The wedding tea ceremony is a way of showing respect and gratitude to both sides of the family for their support and care over the years. The tea ceremony can also be seen as a symbol of purity, stability, and fertility.




The Chinese tea ceremony hasn’t changed much throughout history. However, instead of the bride serving her own family alone, now the bride and groom typically both serve each side of the family to show equal respect. Other important family members, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles, are also often included.


The tea ceremony also isn’t a one-way street anymore. After the couple serves tea, they usually receive gifts in return, typically red envelopes of cash or jewelry that’s gold or jade.  While the tea ceremony used to be more private in the past, today, couples want people to share in their culture and often invite the bridal party or extended family to watch or participate. Some couples even opt to include the tea ceremony as part of the rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, or even wedding ceremony.



If you’re including a Chinese tea ceremony as part of your wedding celebration, we’d love to capture it! Our talented and award-winning wedding photographers love being a part of these cultural ceremonies. Contact us today!


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