I was reading Windy Skies post on gold and marriages in India- it made me think of the Gold involved in Chinese Tea Ceremonies. For our family, the tea ceremony is a way to not only thank the parents but also to introduce the bride to the family she is being married into.
Each member of the family has a 'title'- you don't just call your aunts and uncles- "aunt" or "Uncle"- you have to refer to them by the order they were born. So forinstance the eldest 'aunt' would be "First Auntie"- or in Hokkein it is "Tuah Kohr" and "Second Auntie" is "Je Kohr" and for uncles you would say "Tuah Chek" and "Je Chek" continuing on down the line.
As the tea is being offered, not only does the new bride have to 'call' her new family member by their title- but they also are introduced to the bride. After sipping the tea, they return it to the tray with a red packet. This red packet contains either money or, on most occasions, it will contain gold jewelry.
Although it has been a long time since I performed the tea ceremony at my wedding; I do remember the mental gymnastics I went through trying to keep every title in order. My mother in law stood next to me and coached me on what to say for each new relative who appeared in front of me.
When my son was married, we did the tea ceremony at the reception dinner. It was a great time of introduction. Laughter abounded as we all tried to remember what 'title' was to be bestowed on each person. After all the elders were served, then the younger generation comes and greets the bride and groom and now the bride and groom give them a 'red packet'- thus establishing the fact they are now 'elders'. The bride and groom are introduced to the family with a wonderful spirit of joy!