[Accepting a gift from my Popo (grandmother) during the tea ceremony]
This post can also be known as, Mo blows her cover as someone who always obeys her elders without question. It could also be titled, I'm not changing my last name and I don't think my in-laws know that. Whoops!
Before I get into the tea ceremony, the day before the wedding banquet I was going a little crazy because the boy's parents asked me to proofread the names of my relatives who would be introduced. [It is customary at Chinese banquets for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to be introduced along with the bride and groom.] I noticed that the format was "Mr. and Mrs. HisLastName" and that's when I very calmly informed my in-laws that that did not apply to my aunt or my two sisters, because they have hyphenated names, or they just kept their last name. "Why would anyone do that?" my mother-in-law asked. Uh-oh.
And then I told her that I thought all the women needed to be announced with their first names, not just "Mrs. HisName", and I got a "no one is going to care" response.
Um, I beg to differ, you're standing in front of someone that cares. *Wildly raises hand* So I took the list and rewrote it to include all of my aunts' and sisters' first names. And then I realized that no one asked about how we were going to be introduced in Chinese. Uh-oh.
I could just hear it now, Introducing for the first time, Mr. HisName and BRIDE! My Uncle was doing the introductions, so I basically ran over to him when I saw him and told him, "Please introduce me with my full name. PLEASE." He laughed at how pained I looked, but kindly obliged.
So by the time I reached the tea ceremony the next day, I was still reeling from the possibility of all of the women's names being erased from introductions, including mine.
[Serving tea to my Uncle and Aunt during the tea ceremony]
The tea ceremony is very simple (or at least ours was.) Ours went a little something like this: An elder (or elder couple) will sit, I would stand and serve tea, and then I say "Elder's name, drink tea" and he or she in turn will drink tea, and give a gift, often money in a red envelope like in the photo of the boy's aunt and uncle below.
We did the boy's side of the family first, so we served them all tea and then it was my family's turn. The boy and I took turns serving the tea, we did not offer the cups at the same time, but instead he would go first and then I would serve tea after.
When it was my family's turn to be served, I picked up a tea cup first before the boy, and was quickly reprimanded. "No! The man always goes first! You go after." I looked down at the cup. Then back up. Then at my parents, and said "Seriously? But they're MY PARENTS." I got a lecture about tradition and "this is how it has always been done" and so the boy served tea first. And I served the cup after him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that we did the tea ceremony and had the banquet, as our heritage is important to us and we wanted to have a banquet that our extended families could attend.