Our Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony at the Lenox Boston Hotel

chinese wedding tea ceremony qipao cheungsam

We got wedding photos back and are so excited to share parts of our day with you guys! Today’s post is from our Chinese marriage tea ceremony, which took place the morning of our wedding. Traditionally, the tea ceremony is a symbolic way of presenting the bride to the groom’s family, and for the couple to express gratitude to their elders. The couple typically wears embroidered silk outfits in the color red for luck and prosperity. We wanted to pay homage to our heritage in a way that made sense for us – we may not have adhered to all the pillars of tradition, but focused on honoring our parents and family from afar whom we don’t get to see nearly enough!

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All jittery during our first look…you may recognize this dress from our engagement photos, minus the convertible snap-on bolero.

I came across several websites that made Chinese wedding dresses, but was unsure about their legitimacy and quality and couldn’t find any reviews. My talented friend Khatu offered to hand-make this one which made it all the more special to me. The design is inspired by the traditional qipao / cheongsam dresses with mandarin collars, but we used a softer color scheme and lace applique instead of embroidery. As for my most favorite feature – the mandarin collar snaps off for a strapless gown, as seen in our Paris engagement shoot!

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During the ceremony, the couple kneels down and offers cups of tea first to the groom’s parents then the bride’s, followed by other family members in order of seniority. The elders sip the tea, and share words of blessing and red envelops filled with “lucky” money or jewelry.

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Nick’s mother wore a darling dress by Eliza J – it comes in petites and runs ~ a size small FYI.

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My grandma was MIA during her turn…we finally found her hiding in a corner looking like this (upper left) ^

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I had been pretty composed up until then, but the grandparents get me every time! They are elderly but traveled in from both across the country and globe. It meant the world to me to have them there.

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I love how my other grandmother’s outfit matched her jade (they never take these off, ever!).

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I also wanted to mention my petite aunt rented this sequined Nicole Miller gown (starts in sz 0P) from Rent the Runway. I thought it was an eye-catching yet elegant option for anyone looking for a black tie dress in petite sizing.

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My mother (below) went for a silvery-blue beaded Sue Wong dress…I wish we were the same size so I could steal it from her closet!

chinese wedding tea ceremony family

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I’ve gotten numerous emails and messages about where to find a similar teapot set as well as a mandarin-style dress – I’m so bummed I can’t be of much help since we used an heirloom tea set and my dress was made by a friend. For any readers who have tips and suggestions from your own experience, I would love to hear them in the comments! I am sure that fellow ladies planning a similar ceremony would greatly appreciate any advice as well as reviews of mandarin dress companies.

chinese wedding tea ceremony rings

Item Details

Photos by Katch Studios; Custom silk & lace mandarin dress by Khatu; Florals by Pollen; Makeup by Lisa Chy; Hair in partnership w/ TRESemmé; Nick’s suit from Theory & accessories from The Tie Bar

83 thoughts on “Our Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony at the Lenox Boston Hotel

  • Tonya L September 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Congratulations! You looked beautiful. The whole ceremony was besutiful!

  • geneva September 15, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Wow! That dress is gorgeous! You look lovely 🙂

  • Ella Pretty Blog September 15, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    The photo with your grandparents was sooo sweet! I love how you kept the important parts of the ceremony but adapted it to be more *you*. I absolutely love the dress Khatu made – she's is just so talented!

  • Bella B September 15, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    How beautiful! I love you dress.


  • Aisha S September 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    So pretty! The dress and you and everyone/thing else! Congratulations Jean and Nick!

  • Amadea Kristani September 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    The dress is absolutely stunning! I love the family picture. Thank you for sharing this with us! It's a really helpful reference for me =)


  • Anonymous September 15, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Gorgeous photos and more importantly, such a beautiful ceremony to honour your heritage and elders. I used the same tea set for my wedding tea ceremony. I'm from Toronto, Canada and the set was readily available at the numerous local Asian malls. In particular, we purchased it from a housewares-China shop at market village.

  • Revanche September 15, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Congratulations, again, Jean! Khatu's talent just keeps growing and who better to wear her designs? 🙂

    I rented my traditional gown from a shop in Orange County (CA) that had hundreds of options, in a variety of colors. I think I emailed a picture of it to you a little while back. If you have any readers who are in that area, I'd be happy to dig out the name of the shop.

  • Michelle B September 15, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    That first look photo is so precious. Belated congrats to you & Nick!

  • Andrea Chiguil Garcia September 15, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Everything about this was so beautiful! Incorporating this tradition was absolutely amazing. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

  • Petite Picks September 15, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    So beautiful, congratulations!!!!!

  • Eva Wong September 16, 2015 at 12:02 am

    If someone could try the dresses from those online retailers and do a review, that would be a godsend.

  • Petite-ish September 16, 2015 at 12:02 am

    D'aww, what a lovely family and your grandma is so sweet! You're so lucky to have had all your grandparents there. N only has one of four left and my three grandparents were half way around the world. We tried to include them by playing a recording of them during the beginning of the ceremony and I'm told that that did it in for some of our f&f; who were in attendance. I was only managed to hold it together until they started playing somewhere over the rainbow while I was walking down the aisle :')

  • Diane Hoang September 16, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Congrats to the two of you! You look like a dream. That dress is gorgeous on you :)))

    xx, Diane || http://www.dizined.com

  • Carla Krae September 16, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Just lovely. Congratulations again.

  • Phyllis Lee September 16, 2015 at 12:24 am

    This is so beautiful. I love that your family was there. This is such a beautiful portrayal of two different cultures becoming one. So happy for you!

    Phyllis | http://www.prettypleese.com

  • Caroline September 16, 2015 at 12:25 am

    So touching. Grandparents mean the world to us. I'm glad you were able to celebrate with them present. 🙂

  • smallicedmocha September 16, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I was able to find a this (or a similar) set online from a shop in Hong Kong: http://www.chineseweddingshop.com/accessories/product_info.php/cPath/36/products_id/181

    I've never purchased from here so I can't say much about the service or the shop, but at least we know it's available online!

  • Keilexandra September 16, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I have a beautiful qipao that was made-to-measure for me in China, for only a little over $100 USD. So that's the best option if you can maybe make an overseas pilgrimage before the wedding (the dress design was off the rack and sewing only took about a week).

  • jewey September 16, 2015 at 1:07 am

    congratulations on your wedding! you look beautiful and very happy.

    as my husband is a photographer (and i'm his assistant, by default), we once did a shoot for this couple who also had a tea wedding ceremony. it was my first time to witness such and i thought it was really nice tradition which incorporated respect for the elders. at the end of the ceremony, the groom's elderly mom silently handed out red envelopes to everyone and i was hesitant to accept it at first because i was like, "what's this?! am i supposed to donate money?" hahahaha. i liked the tradition so much that i still have that envelope with me, along with the $20 inside it. =)

  • Arti K September 16, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing this beautiful ceremony… and congrats on your wedding! I have a question about the jade bangles. Can you recommend any good sources here in the U.S.? I'd love to invest in a piece.

  • Anonymous September 16, 2015 at 1:33 am

    San Francisco Chinatown is the place to go for all things Chinese.

  • Happiness at Mid Life September 16, 2015 at 1:34 am

    I am Chinese descent but raised in America so I wanted to honor my parents with a tea ceremony and did that as part of our wedding ceremony. Your dress is beyond stunning and you have such a beautiful family.

    As for the tea cup set, you can typically find them in Asian stores. They have the higher end porcelain behind the counters and every day ones on shelves.


    Would love to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  • Anonymous September 16, 2015 at 1:43 am

    The photos are great! For our tea ceremony, I decided to use a plain red teapot instead of a traditional "Double Happiness" teapot because I didn't want to buy something that would only be used once (and I definitely did not think that we'd be using such a teapot for anything else). Luckily, my mom was okay with this :). We now use the red teapot as our regular teapot at home and I'm very happy with it. If anyone is curious, it's this one: https://www.harney.com/forlife-curve-teapot-red.html

  • Anonymous September 16, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Your Mom is gorgeous!! Wish I could age that well!

  • Trang Do September 16, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Congratulations!! You look Gorgeous!! Beautiful pictures!!
    Love from http://www.trangscorner.com {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  • Beauty Follower September 16, 2015 at 2:06 am

    You both look so classy… your hair style is simply gorgeous!


  • P September 16, 2015 at 2:07 am

    Jean, thanks for giving us a glimpse into your special day. Tea ceremonies are often overlooked by us younger generations, but honoring our elders and receiving their blessing on our wedding day is something words can't really describe. I suppose the photos say it all 🙂

    Despite hesitation and the site looking scammy, I ordered my chinese qi pao from efushop.com for ~$100 back in 2010. The dress was of good quality, I even asked them to customize the length of the side slits and they took note of it. But don't be like me and take my measurements prior to eating a meal…the dress was tight when I got it! My advice would be to be liberal with the measurements and then have a local tailor adjust if needed. ~Phoebe

  • Susan Owen-Grady September 16, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Your dress is absolutely stunning! I love your grandmother's jade bracelet, I've seen many Asian women wearing them at work and I love them!
    Best wishes,
    Susan | http://www.thepetitepepper.com

  • frogandfashion September 16, 2015 at 3:09 am

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this moment.


  • Adriana Dranga September 16, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Hey, I would like to ask you just one thing: how did you incorporate the rings into the ceremony. We just want to do a registry marriage, but I would love to have wedding rings…

  • Adriana Dranga September 16, 2015 at 4:28 am

    And congratulations on your wedding! You are very beautiful and your family is very nice as well.

  • Mlle Coconath September 16, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Beautiful photos!
    Mademoiselle Coconath

  • ruthie September 16, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Jean! Greetings from London. That photo of you and your grandma made me tearful! Brought back memories of my wedding last year. Congratulations! Can't wait to see the other photos of your special day!

  • prudence yeo September 16, 2015 at 5:19 am

    The lace design of the Chinese style wedding dress is absolutely beautiful! You look stunning too, thanks for sharing these lovely images!


  • Maggie Moore September 16, 2015 at 6:01 am

    You look stunning! I love how you blended traditional with modern. 🙂


  • Paola September 16, 2015 at 8:16 am

    You look beautiful!

  • Sara September 16, 2015 at 8:30 am

    You look gorgeous! Clearly, looks run in the family… Let me know (yes, a creepy stranger on the Internet) if your brother's single! 😉 (I assume that's your brother… on the right in the family photo.)

  • Danielle September 16, 2015 at 8:45 am

    What a beautiful ceremony! Your Mom is so pretty and young! Lovely photos!


  • Lauren Hom September 16, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Such a gorgeous tea ceremony! The photos came out great and you wear the dress so effortlessly. Congrats on your special day 🙂

  • Julie Hiller September 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Jean! I've never been to a Chinese wedding ceremony of any kind so it's fun to see these photos with the explanations! You look gorgeous, as always. What a great gift that dress is!

    lifestyle by joules

  • Angela Bonanza September 16, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Aw, these photos are all so sweet and beautiful! The photos and description about your grandparents made me tear up (at work haha, oops!). You have a really lovely family. Thank you for sharing <3

  • Louise Chu September 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    This is such a sweet post!! You look amazing and so beautiful!!! <3

    Louise | http://www.thestylewalk.com/

  • Emma September 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    WOW, this is VERY cool- thanks for sharing! And what a GORGEOUS fam (on BOTH sides)!

  • Huong September 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Oh my gosh, Jean! I definitely enjoyed reading about how your heritage and its traditions when it comes to marriage. I just totally teared up going through these photos. Your photographer did a wonderful job capturing not just moments, but emotions! Thank you for sharing your family's intimate moments during a special time in your life! xo

  • Melissa September 16, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing!

  • Champagne Star September 16, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Congratz on your big day! Awww, now I'm so envious. I want my wedding to look like this! Gorgeous dress, and everyone looked so glamorous!

  • Michelle Lu September 16, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    That dress is absolutely stunning and you looked gorgeous. Congratulations!

  • Karen September 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    You look so wonderful – looking forward to doing a tea ceremony for my own wedding.

  • Cindy September 16, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    You look absolutely gorgeous Jean and these photos make me speechless! I'm so glad those precious moments were captured for you guys to look back on years down the road. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Molly D September 16, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jean! It is obvious you captured and understood the true meaning of the day – love and family. Besides looking just beautiful.

  • Kyutipi September 16, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Your post about your grandparents coming from so far away to attend your wedding made me tear up! So incredibly sweet! Congratulations Jean! You looked beautiful, as always! ❤️

  • tellmeyblog.com September 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    You look stunning as always! I am not an expert in this speciality but I did come across with some really cute qipao-inspired dresses. For the fellow brides-to-be out there, maybe try to google `mandarin collar'. You may be surprised. 😉


  • Anonymous September 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    I also ordered my wedding qipao from efushop, about 6 months ago. I was nervous about the end result but the dress is great quality and fits me perfectly. They also customized it by removing some buttons and adding an invisible back zipper. It was a great experience!

  • yefei wang September 17, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Congratulations Jean, you are so pretty in the dress.

  • Anonymous September 17, 2015 at 1:53 am

    That dress is amazing!!

  • 30-Love September 17, 2015 at 1:55 am

    For brides living in Southern California, I purchased a similar, almost exact looking tea set with my mom at a store called TS Emporium =)

  • mybeautrip September 17, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Such a nice ceremony and emotive pics.


  • Linna September 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Jean you looked so beautiful!!! The photos were also fantastic, capturing all the emotions from the great day with your family. Loved the custom-made dress that you wore and as well as your take on a culturally significant event honoring your elders.

  • Bela Anzu September 17, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    You look beautiful Jean! The photographer(s) you two chose captured such wonderful and meaningful candid moments during the tea ceremony, especially the first look, the one of your grandma and your family photo. Both of your families look so happy and everyone looks stunning.

    Lastly, Khatu's design and skill with your gown is impressive.

  • Erica Kato September 17, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Such beautiful photos Jean!

    xo | The Fashion Forecast

  • Anonymous September 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Just beautiful. I'd love to see what the bolero looks like on its own — on a hanger? Does it go over the entire front bodice of the dress? Congratulations!

  • Joanna Le September 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Jean, you look so, so beautiful. Wishing you many blessings for a happy marriage and life! :')


  • Anonymous September 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Loved this! I got emotional by just looking at your photos :'( Thank you for sharing this beautiful ceremony. You and your family look great. Congratulations on your wedding. I hope your life together will be filled with joy, happiness and lots of love!

  • Joy September 17, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Jean! This is such a beautiful way to honor your family's traditions while still being true to yourself 🙂 I noticed the double happiness papercuts behind your adorable family photo – could you tell me where you found those? 🙂

  • Namrata Arora September 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Jean – you look so elegant and pretty in all the pics and you both make such a gorgeous couple. Is your husband also of Chinese origin?

  • grace September 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    My mom has the exact same tea set at home 🙂 I consider myself pretty non-traditional and barely speak Chinese with my parents but I really should consider doing the tea ceremony too! You look so pretty and just like your mom!

  • Julia Mazzucato September 18, 2015 at 8:24 am

    This is beautiful! I love that dress. Khatu did an amazing job! Normally I'm not a bolero fan but this one is stunning, and it really fits with the dress. Possibly the first bolero I've ever liked!
    Stunning pictures.
    Julia // Little Miss Haute Couture

  • Frugirl September 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Hi Jean,
    Wishing you and Nick all the best in a long and happy marriage! You look beautiful, as always – thank you for sharing such a special day with us, your readers (and fans!). Khatu's handiwork is amazing, and the dress is breathtaking on you. I teared up at the photograph with yourself and your grandparents – so touching. Congratulations!

  • Cynthia Mak September 18, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Congrats! What a stunning and gorgeous dress!


  • Deasy Noel September 19, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Oh my gosh, these photos are gorgeous, but you looked so beautiful in that dress! Ah! Khatu did an amazing job <3 Congratulations again!


  • Kelli Strong September 19, 2015 at 5:24 am

    How can we get that made!?! I'd love one!

  • EnchantedRose3 September 19, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Jean, you're wedding looked beautiful! I was wondering where you found those paper cutouts of the Chinese wedding symbol/double happiness? I would love to get that for my wedding.

    Thank you, and congrats again.

  • Lan September 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Jean! I purchased this exact tea set at a store in Hong Kong for just under $20 USD. There is an entire mall dedicated to wedding clothing (custom made dresses, qi paos, tea sets, decorations) called Golden Plaza on Nathan Road. Subway exit is C1 at Prince Edward station. Feel free to post this!

  • Anonymous September 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Congratulations, Jean and Nick! You both looked so gorgeous and happy! To a blissful lifetime together, cheers! 😉

  • Alexandra September 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Hi! I'm also from Orange County and looking to rent my traditional gown. What was the name of the shop you rented from?

  • Héléna Genty September 23, 2015 at 3:29 am



  • Dice September 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Congrats, Jean & Nick! You both looked gorgeous. Wishing you both a blissful lifetime together.

  • Joyce Pak September 30, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I love that you got to share an intimate moment with your family before your big wedding day. I think it's amazing that your grandparents got to come to experience this with you, and Khatu did an amazing job with the dress, what a wedding gift! Love the tea set and the jade jewelry on your grandma as well, your family is really rocking beautiful looks 🙂

    Characters & Carry-ons

  • Mandy Wong October 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Jean,
    Can you ask Khatu to provide a tutorial on how she made you Chinese wedding qi pao bolero?? Please!!

  • mackyton October 9, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Wonderful ceremony!! Both of you look fabulous and your wedding gown is so pretty. I would love to wear something like this for my wedding. Currently I am looking for wedding venue in Los Angeles. Any suggestions for a nice venue?

  • Kat November 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Jean! Did you have both sides attend the tea ceremony? As in, all aunts and uncles from both? Or, was it mainly just Nick's side? I'm curious as to how many and how long the ceremony was — trying to figure out our day of scheduling 🙂 Any and all info/advice would be helpful! 🙂

  • Hanna July 26, 2016 at 3:05 am

    This is absolutely beautiful! So nice to honour your family traditions, but still make them personal. Thank you for sharing, loved every bit of it!

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