Gratitude From The Newlyweds

A Wedding Chinese Tea Ceremony is a formal affair. It is the time when the bride and groom are introduced formally to their respective families including their close relatives. Tea is used because it is China’s national drink and serving it is a sign of respect.

Wedding tea ceremony is a way to express the newlyweds’ gratitude. In front of their parents, it is a practice to say, "Thanks for bringing us up. Now we are getting married. We owe it all to you."

The tea ceremony during weddings also serves as a means for both parties in the wedding to meet with members of the other family. As Chinese families can be rather extended, it is entirely possible during a courtship to not have been introduced to someone. As such, during the tea ceremony, the couple would serve tea to all family members and call them by their official title. Drinking the tea symbolized acceptance into the family.

Before the wedding, the bride and the bridegroom would gather before the parents and the immediate relatives. The general rule is to have the woman on the left side and the man on the right side. The people being served will sit in chairs, while the bride and groom kneel. For example, when the newlyweds serve tea to the groom’s parents, the bride would kneel in front of her father-in-law, while the groom would kneels in front of his mother.

The newlyweds serve tea in order, and the sequence is always male first followed by the female. The groom would do the honor first, presenting a cup of hot Chinese tea to his father, followed by the mother, then the bride’s father and finally the mother. The bride would follow the same sequence after the groom does.

The newlyweds will also present tea to important guests proceeding from the oldest family members to the youngest. The type of tea that can be used range from oolong tea to jasmine tea. When presenting the tea, one should always present it with both hands and from a kneeling position. When the guests receive the tea, they would also receive with both hands.

In return, the newlyweds receive lucky red envelopes (“lai see,” which means “lucky”) stuffed with money or jewelry. The helpers (“lucky woman”), who are usually women blessed with a happy marriage or wealth and chosen by the fortune teller or bride’s mother, also get lucky red envelopes stuffed with money from those being served. These envelopes are either placed on the platter which holds the teacups or gave to the newlyweds and the helpers directly.

Tea and “lai see” used in the ceremony.