5 things you should know about the Chinese Traditional Wedding Traditions and Customs
1) Do not take off your shoes until your Chinese ceremony is over.
(Traditionally Chinese wedding shoes were usually red or pink with embroidery of double joy [双喜], peony [牡丹] or other auspicious flowers. As shoes [鞋] “xie” sounds like harmony [偕] in mandarin and are of a pair [一双一对] they became an important icon in Chinese weddings.
In modern Chinese Traditional Wedding, both bride and groom will wear NEW wedding shoes to match their clothing. They will not remove their wedding shoes throughout the Chinese wedding ceremony, including the tea ceremonies and bride's home visit.)
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When can you remove your wedding shoes?
The modern custom is to remove the wedding shoes only after returning to the groom's home or bridal home after the bride's home visit to her parent's home.
- The bride and groom will first enter the groom’s family home under the pants of the groom’s unmarried elder brother. (In the Older Times)
- Parents are served tea before grandparents at the Chinese wedding tea ceremony.
- The bride must change clothes before her home visit to symbolize the passage of 3 days. They will usually change into traditional Kua to return back home.
- A whole roast pig with tail is given to the bride’s family at the bride’s home visit to declare that she was a virgin before marriage.
Additional Knowledge: Teochew Culture
Traditionally teochew bride is fetched to the groom's home before daylight.
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2) Which tea set to use?
The tea set in the bride's dowry is used for the Chinese Traditional Wedding Ceremony. The groom's sister or a relative will assist in pouring the tea and washing the cups.
Additional Knowledge: Tea Ceremony
The order of service is usually
- Grand-uncles and grand-aunties,
- Uncles and aunties,
- Elder brothers and sisters,
- Elder cousins
However, there are also families that prefer to serve the grandparents tea before the parents.
Within each generation, dad's relatives are served before mum's relatives.
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3) To kneel or not to kneel?
In very traditional family, the young couple is required to serve tea whilst kneeling down. Most modern family only requires them to bow while serving tea.
4) Man on the left and Woman on the right, RIGHT?
The bride will stand to the right of the groom. The male elder being served will sit facing the bride. The female elder will sit facing the groom. The bride and groom will bow to the elders and greet them by their formal title in the family while serving them tea.
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5) When do you serve an extra cup of tea?
If a living member of the elder couple is absent, the other will drink on behalf of the absent spouse. However, tea is not poured out for a deceased spouse.
Additional Knowledge: Chinese Tea Ceremony gifts presentation
After drinking the tea, the tea ceremony gifts for the bride and groom will be presented on the serving plate. The gifts are usually in the form of red packets or jewelry.
Some relatives prefer the bride and groom to wear the jewelry gifts immediately and will even put it on for them. With generous relatives, you may look like a Christmas tree after the tea ceremony!
Unmarried elder siblings will not present the couple with gifts after drinking the tea. The bride and groom will present gifts to the younger siblings and cousins who serve them tea.
Any sweet tea, symbolizing sweetness in the new union, is good for the Chinese wedding tea ceremony. You can use sweetened red tea for simplicity sake, but some traditional Chinese sweet teas are preferred for the good connotations in their names.
- Lotus seeds and red dates tea (莲子红枣茶)
- Symbolizing that the couple will bear children quickly and continuously.
- Longans and red dates tea （龙眼红枣茶）
- The longan represents a “dragon” and the wish for having male children
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