Before the official wedding ceremony begins, a modern Chinese wedding still includes traditional customs including a tea ceremony in the morning. This tea ceremony has certain etiquettes
1. The red umbrella
Early morning the groom visits the bride’s parents home together with the groom’s men to pickup the bride. When the bride leaves her parent’s home, a ‘lucky women’ holds the umbrella above the bride. This women should be someone who’s successful and has many healthy children. Very often it’s a good friend or relative.
2. Herbs and dried fruit
Serving traditional herbs and dried fruits such as Jujube symbolizes a warm and sweet beginning of a new phase in life.
3. Kneel to parents, and present tea
The bride and groom have to kneel down to parents and relatives of both sides, offering them tea. This symbolizes the gratefulness of the child for raising them until they are married. Offering tea to the older generation is a sign of respect. It also symbolizes acceptance by each others family. One tea that is often used is Da Hong Pao oolong tea. See the video below how it’s steeped with a Yixing clay teapot. For the ceremony a Gai Wan, which is a traditional Chinese tea cup with lid, could be good though. Usually red coloured tea ware is used, as it symbolizes prosperity.
4. Drink to each other
Newly weds should also drink to each other. Raising cups high, shows respect before they enter together into a happy marriage.
5. Red Envelopes
Parents and relatives who have been served tea by the couple should prepare a red envelop with money. This should be given to the bride after the tea is served. Sometimes, close relatives and parents offer jewellery instead of the envelop.
There are slight variations in which these etiquettes are implemented in practice, due to regional differences. However, for Chinese families in the West that are looking for a guide, it’s safe to follow the above. For the couples that found this article in preparation for their own wedding. I would wish you in advance a happy life together!