On the morning of our wedding day, I wanted to honor my heritage with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony for my family members. At such a ceremony, the bride typically wears a “qipao” or “cheongsam,” which is a sheath-like dress with a high mandarin collar, oftentimes in a red and gold brocade. I looked extensively online for options, but most of the sites I came across were overseas stores with no reviews nor actual photos – risky to say the least. I also wanted a few modern updates to the silhouette and design. I was so touched when my good friend Khatu offered to hand-make one as my wedding gift! If anyone has sewn a gown before, you’d know it’s no easy feat.
We decided to do a silk + French alençon lace dress in a flowy silhouette, with a mandarin collar attached to a removable bolero. That way, the gown easily converted from a mandarin to a sweetheart neckline for two very different looks. I brought the base dress (sans bolero) with us to Paris – I figured the morning of the actual tea ceremony would be hectic, and wanted to make sure to get at least a few photos of this special gift!
The shot above subtly shows one of my favorite details that Khatu added – if you look closely, there are individual pieces of floral lace appliquéd beneath the topmost layer of the skirt. I learned so much throughout this dressmaking process about the cost and time that goes into making a quality garment! For example, I never knew that individual pieces of lace need to be hand-trimmed out of the yard of fabric that it’s sold in, then sewn onto the garment piece by piece.
This set of photos was shot by the talented Le Secret D’Audrey. We specifically looked for a film photographer for the ethereal, airy nature of this old-school medium. It’s a different experience from the digital cameras we’ve grown used to, since there are limited shots on a roll of film and every shot counts. Audrey certainly knows how to work with the light, and also made Nick feel comfortable in his rare time in front of the camera : ) And small world – Nick realized that his college roommate eloped in Paris this year and coincidentally hired the same photographers!