The Chinese wedding tea ceremony, a profound and intimate part of Chinese wedding customs, highlights the significance of familial bonds and respect towards elders. Whether carried out in private or as part of the public wedding festivities, this ritual is an essential link between the couple's new life and their respective families' ancestral traditions.
Traditionally, separate ceremonies are conducted in each family’s respective homes or hotel rooms, with the bride's family going first. Yet, in modern times, many choose to incorporate the tea ceremony into the wedding. This alteration serves to share Chinese culture more publicly and promote unity between the two families.
The tea ceremony begins with the bride and groom, the woman standing to the man's left, bowing three times. The first bow pays homage to heaven and earth, the second signifies respect for parents, and the third allows the couple to honour each other.
Following the bows, the couple, while kneeling, serves tea to their elders in order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. Each recipient is expected to offer a short speech and present a red envelope to the couple. The red envelopes, traditionally filled with money or jewellery, symbolise good luck and prosperity.
Gift exchange is an integral part of this ceremony. Both families present gifts to their new daughter-in-law or son-in-law. For the bride, traditional advantages include gold or jade jewellery. The groom's gifts may consist of a new suit, belt, cuff links, a watch, or a wallet. If a wallet is chosen, placing a coin or dollar bill inside is customary, as giving an empty gift is considered unlucky.
Last but not least, appreciation is shown to those who assist in the tea ceremony, typically the bridesmaids. They are customarily given red envelopes containing new money or jewellery as a token of gratitude for their efforts.
This ritual allows the couple to demonstrate respect for their elders and appreciation for the past while stepping into the future together. The Chinese tea ceremony, in its essence, cherishes the notion of family, respect, and the joy of coming together, making it a wonderful include part of the Chinese wedding customs.