Tea ceremonies are used to commemorate weddings and other special occasions in many cultures around the globe, especially in South and East Asia. Tea unity ceremonies are also growing in popularity among Western brides and grooms, as a meaningful way of symbolizing the coming together of two people and their families.
Incorporating tea in your wedding ceremony is a beautiful way to celebrate the love you share with your partner and the start of your union as a married couple. To help spark your inspiration, we have compiled some of our favorite tea wedding ceremony customs and ideas.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
The Chinese wedding tea ceremony is steeped in centuries-old tradition. This custom not only symbolizes the unity of the happy couple, but also pays respect to their elders.
Traditionally, two separate tea ceremonies are held: the first for the groom’s family and the second for the bride’s family. However, many couples now opt for one all-inclusive ceremony. The event usually takes place immediately following the ceremony vows and before the reception, but is occasionally held on the day after the wedding instead.
During the ceremony, the couple will kneel on red cushions and serve tea to the groom’s elders in the following order: parents, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts, and finally the groom’s oldest brother. After taking a sip of the tea, each elder will present the couple with a lai see (red envelope) containing money or jewelry.
The same ceremony process is then performed for the bride’s elders. During this time, the wedding contract may be signed and the couple’s parents may verbally offer their blessings. Pu-erh tea is the traditional wedding tea varietal, but jasmine tea may also be used.
Traditional Vietnamese Wedding Tea Ceremony
For many Vietnamese couples, the tea ceremony is one of the most emotional and meaningful parts of the wedding day. This time-honored tradition is performed to honor the deceased ancestors of both partners, and is also when the couple exchanges rings and vows.
The ceremony is typically held in the bride’s home, and begins with a procession of the groom and his loved ones from the street into the home. All members of the groom’s party will carry trays containing gifts for the bride’s family.
Once inside the home, guests may pray and bow to religious icons representing ancestors from both sides of the family. Then it is time for the tea ceremony to begin!
The bride and groom will serve green tea to both sets of parents and grandparents as a sign of respect and gratitude. The families may offer words of affirmation regarding the couple’s relationship, before concluding the ceremony with the lighting of a special unity candle.
Modern Tea Unity Ceremony Ideas
In many cultures, it has become a common practice for the bride and groom to participate in a unity ceremony on their wedding day. Popular unity symbols include candles, wine boxes, sand mixing, and handfasting. For tea lovers, what better way to celebrate their union than with a ceremony incorporating tea?
Option #1: The Bride & Groom Serve Tea to One Another
During this tea unity ceremony, the bride and groom will take turns pouring a cup of tea for one another, then sipping and enjoying the tea together at the altar.
Eagerness to serve and care for your partner is a cornerstone of any lasting relationship. The simple act of pouring a soothing cup of hot tea for your partner is a beautiful way to symbolize that commitment. This tea unity ceremony also illustrates the idea that the couple finds their happiness in the little everyday moments, such as sharing a cup of tea together.
Option #2: The Bride & Groom Prepare Tea Together
A healthy relationship requires positive contributions and equal efforts from both partners. What better way to symbolize this than by working together as a couple to prepare a pot of your favorite tea?
In this take on the tea unity ceremony, one partner will add the leaves and the other will pour the water. Both partners may then take sips of the prepared tea to illustrate the positive outcomes of working together.
Alternatively, the parents of the bride and groom may prepare the tea for the couple to drink, symbolizing their blessing of the union.
Option #3: The Bride & Groom Combine Tea Leaves
This variation of the tea wedding ceremony draws inspiration from other unity symbols, such as sand mixing.
Prior to the wedding day, each partner will choose a full-leaf tea that they feel best represents themselves. During the ceremony, the couple will combine their tea leaves, steep the mixture as one, and sip together. This act symbolizes the positive contributions each partner brings to the relationship.
Whichever tea ceremony idea you choose for your big day, we recommend sipping the same varietal each year on your anniversary date as a reminder of your vows. You may also send guests home with small vials of your ceremony tea as a heartfelt wedding favor.