Cultural and family traditions are important as they give us a sense of belonging, strengthen bonds between generations, and help to keep the history of cultures alive. It was a pleasure for us to be involved with Emily and Matthew’s wedding tea ceremony to celebrate their engagement. The ceremony took place in our Dove Lounge at the Hospice, as Sua is currently staying on our In-Patient Unit. Emily had spent some time talking to her aunts in Malaysia, where Sua is originally from, to learn more about this traditional ceremony and make sure that she had included the various different elements of it in her and Matthew’s celebration.
The Chinese tea ceremony usually happens on the day of the wedding. The couple offer tea to the bride’s family and then to the groom’s family. They kneel before the family members and serve the tea with both hands. If the family accepts the offer of tea, then they are accepting the bride or groom into their family as their new son or daughter in law. Customs and traditions vary by family and region, and Emily and Matthew kept to as many of Emily’s family’s traditions as they could, adapting them for their own specific situation.
The tea which was served was a traditional Chinese Oolong tea. Emily and Matthew also added dried Chinese dates, making the tea sweet, to represent a sweet marriage. Emily’s brother, Michael, also had an important role. He helped host the ceremony and was the one to pour the tea for Emily and Matthew, who then served it to Sua and Tim. Following tradition, the bride and groom both wore red – Emily’s dress and Matthew’s tie – and Sua and Tim gave the couple a red envelope in return for the tea. Similar to those used on Chinese New Year, these envelopes are filled with money or sometimes jewellery, and symbolise prosperity and happiness.
The ceremony also served as a celebration of Chinese New Year, with traditional New Year food served, such as Malaysian kuih kapit – which are wafer-like biscuits and are also called ‘love letters’ – and Malaysian pineapple tarts.
“The staff at Phyllis Tuckwell were absolutely wonderful in helping to organise the tea ceremony,” said Emily. “It was important to both me and my mum that we carried out this tradition and that she would be able to bless my marriage. I will treasure the photos and memories of this day forever.”