If you’re thinking about incorporating a traditional Chinese tea ceremony in your wedding, one of the first questions you’ll have to figure out is—when should you host this tea ceremony? For many multicultural couples, the tea ceremony is one of many activities that they have planned for their East meets West wedding. To help you figure out how to best adapt the tea ceremony to your own wedding needs, we’ve written a guide below on the most common times to host your tea ceremony during your wedding weekend.
Why have a Chinese tea ceremony at your wedding?
The tea ceremony is a beautiful Chinese wedding tradition that symbolizes the joining of the two families. It’s a wonderful tradition to both celebrate your Chinese heritage and honor your parents, grandparents, and relatives who have supported you by serving them tea. It’s also a great opportunity to greet your in-laws and officially become a part of the family. To learn more about what happens during the tea ceremony or how to plan one stress-free, read our guide on planning the ultimate tea ceremony.
The traditional tea ceremony time
Traditionally, the wedding tea ceremony is hosted the morning of the wedding at the groom’s home and then in the afternoon at the bride’s home. Couples nowadays typically combine these into one tea ceremony, held in the morning. The groom’s family gets served tea first, and then the bride’s. Door games are played and red envelopes are exchanged.
While it is nice to honor traditions, having the Chinese tea ceremony in the morning of the wedding might feel rushed for some brides—especially if they are also rushing to get ready, do a first look, take pictures, and set up the venue, among other tasks. We recommend setting aside at least two hours for the tea ceremony so that might increase your already hectic schedule on the day of the wedding. For that reason, many modern brides are opting to do the tea ceremony at different times throughout the wedding weekend.
Have your tea ceremony the Night Before at the Rehearsal Dinner
If you’d like to keep the tea ceremony mostly private with just family and close friends, then the rehearsal dinner could be a great time to host your tea ceremony. Your family will already be there, and your bridesmaids are also there to lend support during the ceremony. Finishing the tea ceremony the night before your big wedding means less stress the day-of. However, you are limited in terms of your tea ceremony venue to wherever you pick for your dinner reservation. Make sure to confirm with your rehearsal dinner venue if you need extra chairs for the set-up, tea cups, etc.
Have your tea ceremony during your wedding ceremony or reception
If you are interested in involving your wedding guests in this beautiful Chinese tradition, then consider combining the tea ceremony as part of your main ceremony or reception. This option is a great opportunity to educate and showcase your heritage to your wedding guests. It’s also a great way to make use of your already decorated, beautiful wedding venue or ceremony arch.
However, if you do have a large family and want to serve tea to every relative, there might be time constraints to consider. After all, you also want to leave time for dancing! Brides typically wear a wedding cheongsam or qipao for their tea ceremony, so for those who want to change into their Chinese wedding attire for the tea ceremony, you might want to wait until the reception to have it.
Have your tea ceremony during the Cocktail hour
While guests are busy munching away on appetizers, cocktail hour might be a good time to sneak away and do the tea ceremony with just your family and wedding party. Photographers typically use this time to take pictures of the whole family, so this could be a great opportunity to do both! You’ll have already rounded up the whole family, and can perhaps even use the ceremony space or another part of the wedding venue area for the tea ceremony. The cocktail hour passes quickly, however, and if you want to have multiple outfit changes (cheongsam for the tea ceremony and then another outfit for the reception), choosing this time might make your wedding day feel rushed.
Have your tea ceremony the Day After, or At Your Separate Chinese Wedding Banquet
If you’re hosting a brunch the day after your wedding, or a separate Chinese wedding banquet, then consider having your tea ceremony then. You’ll have more time to enjoy wearing your Chinese qipao or cheongsam dress without worrying about outfit changes. Hosting a separate Chinese wedding banquet is its own beast, but if you (or your parents) want to go all out, then we do have a guide for you. By having your Chinese tea ceremony at a separate event, you’ll be able to better organize and choose your setting, decor, and clothing. The choice is yours!
If planning your tea ceremony is getting stressful, don’t forget to relax and breathe. However you decide to celebrate this Chinese tradition, we’re sure it will be a heartwarming experience for you and your newly-joined family.