Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chinese Wedding & Tea Ceremony Protocol.

I have mostly just attended the chinese wedding dinner ceremonies of relatives and friends. However, today was my first ever attending a chinese wedding and tea ceremony + church wedding ceremony of a friend of mine. The wedding dinner reception is normally held on the same day, or may be held separately on a different night.

The day before the wedding ceremony, chinese brides and bridegrooms at their own individual homes will have their hair combed at the stroke of midnight.

(I don't really fancy staying up that late just to see someone comb their hair, unless I was fancying a free dinner, and had nothing else better to do...!)

Have you ever wondered what the chinese bride did on her wedding day?

EARLY MORNING...  
"Zhee Mui"s in white.
The chinese bride is up from 7am to put on her make-up (in the sweltering tropical heat of Malaysia..) She remains in her chambers (locked!) till the bridegroom comes to pick her up.

Early in the morning, the bride's troop of sleepy-eyed "zhee mui" (troop of girl friends) arrive early in the morning. They are normally dressed in a "theme" of colours to present a harmonious look for the videographers/photographers.

A breakfast is laid out in the bride's home for the troop of hungry female troop of girl friends.

The Chinese Wedding Door Game

The "challenges" to be played..
Here's when the fun begins. The girls have to devise all kinds of "challenges" for the Bridegroom and his male troop to do before the door can be opened for the male to go and pick his bride-to-be.

An angpow (red envelopes with money) is to be expected. The money received will be divided among the "zhee muis". The amount received will be a reflection of the bridegroom's generosity, so give more! You do want to win over the hearts of the bride's trusty girl's friends!

A few girls (and ring leader) of the zhee muis will be waiting outside the home to instruct the bridegroom's troops on the "challenges" that they have to pass to gain the "key" into the house.


Bridegroom & troop locked outside the home!
          
The veiled bride waiting in her room patiently..

My friend was waiting expectantly and excitedly in the room. As we were in a locked room, we had no exact idea of what was happening outside. ^^

The Tea Ceremony (Bride's Home)
After the bridegroom is able to gain access to the bride, the next item on the order is the well known chinese tea ceremony. This takes place first at the bride's home.

There will normally be an "elder" or "Tai Kam" who will assist in this protocol of service, who could be someone the family hired, or an elder sister in the family, as what my mother tells me.

This elder would normally possess a chatty personality, and has to know all the names that the bride and bridegroom have to call the respective relatives that they have to serve tea to. She is normally rewarded/or paid a fee, as well as angpows from the respective members who sit in for the ceremony.

The one that we had today not only talked a lot, but sang a lot in mandarin as well throughout the day!

A lot of tea (hopefully clean!) will be prepared in anticipation of the tea ceremony. The elder that came today prepared two huge bowls and four cups with the chinese tea set, as well as two dates to be served with the tea to the parents. 

The order of giving tea to the elders starts with the parents then to the grandparents and relatives on the bride's father's side. It is then followed on by the mother's side.

My friend, the bride, received "generational passed down" jewellery from her mother, which would be passed down to her own children when they tie the knot as well.

All older unmarried relatives will be served tea as well as receive angpow in return. (I would believe they have to be served tea due to their more "senior" ranking).

Younger siblings will serve tea to the bride and bridegroom, who will also receive angpow in return.


MID MORNING

The Tea Ceremony (Bridegroom's Home) 
After the tea ceremony at the bride's home, the procession then moves on to the bridegroom's home.

The same protocol is repeated in serving tea to the bridegroom's side.


AFTERNOON
For the couple who are of Christian background, or they fancy having one in the church, the couple and the the troop will head to the church.

It's usually a six to twelve month prior of pre-booking the church as well as enrolling the church member's help (pastor, musicians, other members, etc) as well as other terms that the church may enlist in allowing a couple to have their wedding ceremony held in a specific church. Each church is different.

Some churches are authorized for registration of marriages. In those circumstances, it makes life much easier for the bride & bridegroom to be.

I have had friends who had to register at the Registrar of Marriage (wherever that is.. I don't know since I have never been there) and had their chinese tea ceremony and church wedding ceremony held separately on a different day.

I used to think (because of those American movies!) that a couple will go into the church, have their vow said and ta-dah! They are already married..but that is further from the truth.

3-6 months before the Wedding Ceremony: There is pre-marriage counselling at most churches for courting couples who intend to get married.

In the church: 
The aisle decorated in anticipation...

The ring bearer..
Ringbearer comes in.... flower girl walks in.... the father of the bride brings her down the aisle....

then bride & bridegroom moves to sit on the bench.

Then the musicians play, and there is a short session of praise and worship.

The pastor comes out and gives a nice message (sometimes mostly directed to the Bridegroom in particular) on the responsibility and roles of the man (and woman) in the marriage.

Then the pastor calls the bride & bridegroom to be to say their vows and exchange rings. The husband may be granted the "license" to open the veil and kiss the bride after this.

Next, the bride & bridegroom to be will with two other witnesses (not necessarily the parents) will move to a table on the side of the altar to initialize the marriage certificate.

The bride & bridegroom will then leave the altar and walk down the aisle as husband & wife.

Next, there will be a photo session as well as a garden buffet/ lunch either in the church grounds or at a specific other location to end the ceremony.

THE CHINESE WEDDING DINNER. (RECEPTION)

This will be held on a separate occasion, either on the same night, or on a separate night, depending on availability of vacancies at the chinese restaurants available.

An angpow is normally prepared by the persons who attend the reception. This amount would be used to cover the cost of the reception as well as a "dowry" to the bride's parents instead of outwardly demanding a sum of money from the bridegroom's family.

In Malaysia, the amount starts from RM50 onwards per person attending, and is dependent on the relationship of the person to the bride and bridegroom, as well as location of the reception to be held.

5 comments:

Siquek said...

Dear Chea Yee,

Thanks ever so much for this post! It was very informative :D

Joy Soriano-Moy said...

hi,

i'm going to attend a chinese wedding (tea ceremony in the morning and wedding dinner) for the first time. can i wear the same dress on both occassions?

thanks!

cheayee said...

I would think that should be fine.... Unless you are sweating profusely and it smells!

Joy Soriano-Moy said...

thanks for your response.

sweating is not the issue. i just want to know what's appropriate for the occassion. is black or dark gray dress appropriate in the tea ceremony? thanks.

cheayee said...

Maybe if you were planning to attend a funeral ... >_<

Purple or blue maybe better, and bright colours would be good. But black and grey can be for another occasion.

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