In Asian cultures, it’s 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, as they allow the couple to pay their respects to the elders in the family. When planning an Asian wedding, it’s important to create a wedding day timeline that includes a tea ceremony. 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. Others opt for a more relaxed wedding day by having the tea ceremony during the rehearsal dinner. This wedding day timeline with a tea ceremony is based on the experience of wedding photographers who have worked on Chinese, Vietnamese, and South Asian weddings. However, other vendors may have a different perspective.
When to have a Tea ceremony?
Tea ceremonies are a bit different, as it is usually the closest family members attending. One question I will ask is about 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 tea ceremony is less. We recommend you allocate 3-5 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 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 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.
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 ceremony. Additionally, include some buffer time. It ensures that you meet the timelines even when an event gets delayed. Based on the below, you can create your entire timeline. Before you go ahead and create a timeline, here are a few things you need to know.
HAIR & MAKE-UP
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.
How much time to allocate for each event in your wedding day timeline?
GETTING-READY PHOTOS: 2-3 HOURS
Usually, you will need 2-3 hours for both of you. Ask your photographers about how much time they want. Sometimes Wedding planners, coordinators, family & friends will suggest the time to allocate for the photos. Each Photographer is different. They will appreciate that you asked.
FIRST LOOK: 15 MINS
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.
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.
CEREMONY: 10 MINS – 2 HOURS
Your ceremony time varies based on your culture, traditions or what you have planned after discussing with your officiant. Leave time 15 mins before the ceremony to gather your thoughts instead of rushing into it.
GROUP PHOTOS(FAMILY & FRIENDS): 30 MINS – 1 HOUR
We usually ask to have group photos right after the ceremony. So the guests can go and enjoy the day instead of waiting for the photographs. 30 mins are enough for up to 100-150 guests. Talk to your photographer about the exact time needed for group photos.
WEDDING PARTY PHOTOS: 30 MINS
If you have a big wedding party, allocate some time for some fun photos with them.
WEDDING DAY PHOTOS – 1 HOUR
Once the bridal party photos conclude, it’s time for your wedding photos. We usually recommend that it is just you two with your photographer. It will help you focus, be present and not feel shy. If you want a helper, have one of your bridesmaids with you.
COCKTAIL HOUR: 1-1.5 HOURS
If your reception is at the same venue, Cocktail hour starts right after the ceremony. If it is at a different location, a cocktail hour can be 30 mins – 1 hour after the ceremony. It also depends on the drive time. It is a great way to keep your guests occupied when you are with your photographer. Cocktail hour is also the starting point of your wedding reception. Most of the time, there is a grand entrance for the couple. Dinner starts right after. For our couples, we recommend the grand entrance during cocktail hour. Spend at least 30 mins with your guests before the reception.
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.
DINNER – 45 MINS – 1 HOUR
Typically dinner lasts around 45 mins- 1 hour depending on the dinner service you choose.
SPEECHES: 15 – 30 MINS
A family member, friend or someone from the wedding party will be willing to give a toast. For each person that is going to talk, allocate 5 mins. So you will know the total time needed based on that.
CAKE CUTTING: 15 MINS
After the speeches, schedule the cake cutting. It will also help the caterers prepare for the cake cutting after the dinner service.
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. After your first dance, you can include your parent’s dances. By then, the crowd will want to get on the dance floor. You can even discuss with your DJ and schedule dance sets to set the mood for the night.
GRAND EXIT – 15 MINS
If you want to do a grand exit, schedule it before the dance floor opens to the guests.
Sample Wedding day timeline with a tea ceremony on the same day
7.00-8.30 AM- Groom/ Partner A getting ready Photos
7.00-8.30 AM – Bride / Partner B getting ready Photos
8.30-9.00 AM – Groom/ 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 Dance party starts
10.30 Photographers leave
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Planning on having your tea ceremony the day before the wedding, here is how you can create your wedding day timeline
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.