Wedding day timeline with a tea ceremony

Chinese Wedding Timeline with a Tea Ceremony

To understand how long your Chinese/Asian wedding is or how long you need your wedding photographers, it is important to create a wedding timeline with a tea ceremony.

How long is your Chinese Wedding?

Some couples prefer to have the tea ceremony on the same day as the ceremony and banquet, which makes the day long but filled with love and happiness with friends and family. Others opt for a more relaxed wedding day by having the tea ceremony during the rehearsal dinner with close family.

In general, if your Chinese or Vietnamese tea ceremony is on the same day as your wedding, expect your wedding day Hair and makeup to start as early as 6.00 AM. If you are big on partying, expect your wedding day to go past midnight. In short, your wedding photography coverage needed will be 12-16 hours.

This wedding timeline with a Chinese tea ceremony is based on our experience as wedding photographers. We have photographed Chinese, Vietnamese, and South Asian weddings. However, other vendors may have a different perspective on your big day.

In Asian cultures, it is customary to show respect to our elders at all times. This is where the tradition of the tea ceremony in Asian weddings comes from. Tea ceremonies are an important part of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean weddings. They allow the couple to pay their respects to the elders in the family.

Vietnamese Tea ceremony. Serving tea to grandma

When to have a Tea ceremony?

Tea ceremony guests are usually the closest family members. One question to ask yourself is regarding the guest count. How many guests will be attending the tea ceremony? If the guest count is smaller then the total time needed for a traditional Chinese/ Vietnamese tea ceremony is less. We recommend you allocate 2-5 mins per guest. Based on this, you can calculate the total times needed. You can then decide if you want your tea ceremony along with the traditional wedding ceremony and banquet reception on the same day or you can have the tea ceremony as part of your rehearsal dinner and plan for a traditional ceremony and banquet reception for the next day. Check out our blog on how to plan tea ceremonies for more information.

How do you incorporate a Chinese/ Vietnamese tea ceremony same day as your wedding day?

When you are planning for a tea ceremony on the same day as your wedding day, your day will start early. If you follow traditions, don’t forget to look for an auspicious time on your wedding day before you start planning. This will help you to know when your tea ceremony should end. Based on our experience, the Tea ceremony starts around 8.30 – 9.00 AM. Usually, it is the Bride’s side first and then it will be the groom’s side. If you have 50 families/guests for the tea ceremony, it should take around 2-3 hours including travel time. Don’t forget your tea set and have your wedding party help you with the tea ceremony. Give them tasks like preparing tea, collecting the red envelopes, helping you give tea etc.

Wedding day timeline with a Vietnamese tea ceremony

How to create a wedding day timeline with a Tea ceremony on the same day?

The first step in creating your wedding day timeline is to decide when you want to have your tea ceremony. If it will be at your home or your wedding venue. Additionally, include some buffer time for travel between locations. It ensures that you meet the timelines even when an event gets delayed. Based on the above, you can create your entire timeline. Before you go ahead and create a timeline, here are a few things you need to know.


Your hair and make-up schedule is crucial. It will set precedence for the rest of the day. One of the mistakes we see most couples make is not giving enough time for hair and make-up. Talk to your hair & make-up artists about the time they will need. For example, if your hair and make-up finish at 10.30, don’t schedule your photographer till 11.00. It will give you time if there is a delay. Furthermore, if you are including your bridesmaids in the getting-ready photos, remember they should have hair & make-up done by the time your photographer arrives.


Another crucial component not to forget is travel time. Walking to the elevator, getting into the car, and driving to the location, takes time, especially with the wedding dress. Each time you get into the car, add 15 mins. A wedding day is a bit different than any other day. It’s better to have enough time planned than to be rushed.

Vietnamese tea ceremony

How much time do you allocate for each event in your wedding day timeline?

1. Getting Ready Photos: 2-3 Hours

When planning your wedding day, it’s recommended that you allocate at least 2-3 hours for getting ready photos. This will allow for enough time for your photographer to capture all the special moments of the getting-ready process, such as hair and makeup, putting on the dress and suit, and exchanging gifts. However, it’s important to note that the amount of time needed may vary depending on your specific requirements and types of photographs needed. Therefore, it’s best to check with your photographer ahead of time to discuss their preferences and ensure that you have enough time set aside for this important part of your wedding day.

2. First Look: 15 Minutes

This one is optional. The first look is a special moment where you and your partner see each other privately for the first time on your Wedding day instead of during the ceremony. We have seen couples do it with their parents too, as it is a special moment. Allocate 15 mins for each first look you are planning on having. If you are going to a specific location, don’t forget to include travel time.

3. Tea Ceremony: 30 Mins – 3 hours

Your timeline for the tea ceremony will vary depending on the guests, and the number of games that you have planned. Allocate 3-5 mins for each guest/couple that will be part of your tea ceremony.

4. Wedding Ceremony: 10 Mins – 2 Hours

Your wedding ceremony time varies based on your culture, traditions or what you have planned. Leave time 15 minutes before the ceremony starts for yourself to gather your thoughts instead of rushing into it. And 15 minutes after so you both can get all the hugs from friends and family.

5. Group Photos (Family & Friends): 30 Mins – 1 Hour

We recommend taking group photos immediately after the ceremony so that guests can spend the rest of the day enjoying themselves rather than waiting around for photos to be taken. Generally, 30 – 45 minutes is sufficient time to take group photos for up to 100-150 guests. However, it’s best to consult with your photographer to determine the exact amount of time needed for group photos.

6. Wedding Party Photos: 30 Mins

Allocate some time for some fun photos with your wedding party and most importantly your ring bearer and your flower girls. We also recommend taking individual photos with each member of your wedding party. You print these photos after the wedding and give them a nice gift/wedding favour.

Wedding day timeline with a Chinese tea ceremony

7. Wedding Day Photos – 1 Hour

After the wedding Party Photos, it’s time for your wedding photos. It is highly recommended that only the couple and the photographer are present during this time. This will allow you to concentrate, be fully present and not feel self-conscious. If you feel like you need some assistance, you can ask one of your bridesmaids to join you.

8. Cocktail Hour: 1-1.5 Hours

If your wedding reception is at the same venue as the ceremony, the cocktail hour will begin immediately following the ceremony. However, if your reception is at a different location, the cocktail hour may start about 30 minutes to 1 hour later. The exact time may also depend on the driving distance between the two locations.

Cocktail hour is a great way to keep your guests entertained while you’re busy taking wedding photos. It also marks the start of your wedding reception, with many couples choosing to make a grand entrance during this time.

For our couples, we recommend spending at least 30 minutes with your guests during the cocktail hour, before the reception begins. This gives you a chance to mingle and socialize with your guests. You can have your MC introduce you to the guests to officially start the reception

9. Grand Entrance: 5-10 Mins

The newlyweds and the wedding party are formally introduced to wedding guests during the grand entrance. It can happen either during cocktail hour or at the reception. If you do it during cocktail hour, you can mingle with the guests right after and then ease into the reception.

10. Dinner – 45 Mins – 1 Hour

Typically dinner lasts around 45 minutes- 1 hour depending on the dinner service you choose.

11. Speeches: 15 – 30 Mins

When it comes to wedding speeches, it’s always best to have a plan. If you have multiple speakers, whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone from the wedding party, make sure to allocate 5 minutes for each person. This way, you can get an idea of the total time needed and ensure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and stories.

12. Cake Cutting: 15 Mins

Schedule the cake cutting after the speeches. This will give the caterers enough time to prepare for it after the dinner service.

13. First Dance & Other Dances: 15 Mins

The last event on your wedding day timeline before the big party will be your first dance. You can dance to the whole song or ask your DJ to fade it after a few minutes. Following your first dance, you can have your parents’ dances or money dances. At this point,, your guests will want to get on the dance floor. Discuss with your DJ and schedule dance sets to set the mood for the night.

Vietnamese Bridal Party wedding photographs

14. Grand Exit – 15 Mins

If you’re planning to do a grand exit at your wedding reception, it’s important to schedule it ahead of time, before the dance floor opens to guests. Furthermore, this will ensure that you can have your special moment without any interruptions or distractions. My recommendation is to do it before the first dance. The first dance will help guests to come back to the reception hall and it doesn’t break the dance floor


Depending on the time of the year you are getting married, you have the option to do sunset wedding photos. The golden hour right before the sun goes down creates a warm and romantic atmosphere which is perfect for wedding photography. Trust me, the results will be stunning!

Sample Chinese/ Vietnamese Wedding day timeline with a Tea ceremony on the same day

7.00-8.30 AM- Partner A getting ready Photos

7.00-8.30 AM – Partner B getting ready Photos

8.30-9.00 AM – Partner A travel time to Partner B’s home

9.00-9.45 AM – Partner B’s family Tea ceremony

10.00-11.00 AM – Partner A’s family Tea ceremony

11-11.30 – Immediate family photos ( Asian families love group photos)

11.30-12.30 – Portraits in traditional wear

12.30-1.30 – Wedding dress change if you want to change

1.30-2.00- Travel time to the venue ( this will change depending on how far the venue is)

2.00- 3.00 Ceremony ( this will change based on your plans)

3.15-4.30 Travel + Wedding day Portraits

If the ceremony and reception are at different locations, you don’t need to plan for a cocktail hour. Guests might travel from venue A to B, do a dress change or take a break. If you still plan on doing a cocktail hour, then you can still go for it

4.00-5.00- Cocktail hour

4.30-5.00 – Couples time ( We recommend that you take this time just for you two. Go for ice cream, milkshakes or something you like and it will be just you both.)

5.30 – Reception starts + couple grand entrance + Lion Dance if you want to have one.

5.30-7.00  Dinner ( If you are planning the traditional 9-course meal, have speeches and other events in-between the dinner courses.)

7.00-7.30 – Speeches

7.30-7.45- Games if you are doing any games like shoe game

7.45-8.00 – Cake cutting

8.00-8.30 – First dance + parents dance

8.30-9.00 – Sunset photos ( this is only applicable if you are planning your wedding in summer)

9.00 The dance party starts

10.30/ 11.30 Photographers leave

tea ceremony

You might also like

If you are planning on having your tea ceremony the day before the wedding, here is how you can create your wedding day timeline

Here is a sample Chinese Wedding at Grand Imperial Edmonton

Here is a sample Vietnamese Wedding At Mirage Banquet Hall

Not sure how to plan a Tea ceremony. Here is how you can do it.

How to plan a wedding Tea Ceremony in Canada

Few other articles that should help you plan your traditional Chinese/ Vietnamese weddings

Outdoor Wedding Venues

Banquet Hall Wedding Venues

5 tips on how to find a Wedding Photographer

5 tips that will help you to look best in your Wedding photos

Did we miss or do you have anything to add that helped you in planning your wedding day timeline with the Tea ceremony? Let us know in the comments.

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