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!

chinese wedding tea ceremony qipao cheungsam2
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!

chinese wedding tea ceremony4

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.

chinese wedding tea ceremony1

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

chinese wedding tea ceremony2

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

chinese wedding tea ceremony3

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!).

traditional chinese wedding tea ceremony3

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

chinese wedding tea ceremony qipao cheungsam3

traditional chinese wedding tea ceremony1

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

Leave a Comment

83 Comments

  1. Hanna wrote:

    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!

    Posted 7.26.16 Reply
  2. Kat wrote:

    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! 🙂

    Posted 11.5.15 Reply
  3. mackyton wrote:

    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?

    Posted 10.9.15 Reply
  4. Mandy Wong wrote:

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

    Posted 10.2.15 Reply
  5. Joyce Pak wrote:

    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

    Posted 9.30.15 Reply
  6. Dice wrote:

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

    Posted 9.23.15 Reply
  7. Congrats!
    xxx

    http://WWW.SMOKYLOVE.FR

    Posted 9.23.15 Reply
  8. Alexandra wrote:

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

    Posted 9.22.15 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 9.20.15 Reply
  10. Lan wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.19.15 Reply
  11. 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.

    Posted 9.19.15 Reply
  12. How can we get that made!?! I'd love one!

    Posted 9.19.15 Reply
  13. Deasy Noel wrote:

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

    http://www.deasynoel.com

    Posted 9.19.15 Reply
  14. Congrats! What a stunning and gorgeous dress!

    http://www.peonypony.blogspot.com

    Posted 9.18.15 Reply
  15. Frugirl wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.18.15 Reply
  16. 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

    Posted 9.18.15 Reply
  17. grace wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  18. 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?

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  19. Joy wrote:

    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? 🙂

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  21. Joanna Le wrote:

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

    http://www.xjole.com

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  22. Anonymous wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  23. Erica Kato wrote:

    Such beautiful photos Jean!

    xo | The Fashion Forecast

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  24. Bela Anzu wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  25. Linna wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  26. mybeautrip wrote:

    Such a nice ceremony and emotive pics.
    xx

    http://www.mybeautrip.com

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  27. 30-Love wrote:

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

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  28. Anonymous wrote:

    That dress is amazing!!

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  29. yefei wang wrote:

    Congratulations Jean, you are so pretty in the dress.

    Posted 9.17.15 Reply
  30. Anonymous wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  31. 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. 😉

    xx
    Yvonne
    http://tellmeyblog.com

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  32. Kyutipi wrote:

    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! ❤️

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  33. Molly D wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  34. Cindy wrote:

    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!
    http://www.whenindoubtblog.com/

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  35. Karen wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  36. That dress is absolutely stunning and you looked gorgeous. Congratulations!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  37. 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!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  38. Melissa wrote:

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  39. Huong wrote:

    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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  40. Emma wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  41. Louise Chu wrote:

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

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  42. 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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  43. 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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  44. Lauren Hom wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  45. Danielle wrote:

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

    http://www.spring2spring.com

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  46. Sara wrote:

    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.)

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  47. Paola wrote:

    You look beautiful!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  48. You look stunning! I love how you blended traditional with modern. 🙂

    http://www.maggiealamode.com

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  49. The lace design of the Chinese style wedding dress is absolutely beautiful! You look stunning too, thanks for sharing these lovely images!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  50. ruthie wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  51. Beautiful photos!
    xx
    Mademoiselle Coconath
    http://mllecoconath.com

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  52. And congratulations on your wedding! You are very beautiful and your family is very nice as well.

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  53. 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…

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  54. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this moment.

    Beatrice
    http://frogandfashion.blogspot.co.uk

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  55. 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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  56. P wrote:

    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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  57. You both look so classy… your hair style is simply gorgeous!

    http://beautyfollower.blogspot.gr/

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  58. Trang Do wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  59. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  60. Anonymous wrote:

    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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  61. 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.

    Alice
    http://www.happpinessatmidlife.com

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  62. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  63. Arti K wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  64. jewey wrote:

    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. =)

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  65. 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).

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  66. 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!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  67. Caroline wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  68. 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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  69. Carla Krae wrote:

    Just lovely. Congratulations again.

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  70. Congrats to the two of you! You look like a dream. That dress is gorgeous on you :)))

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  71. Petite-ish wrote:

    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 :')

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  72. Eva Wong wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  73. So beautiful, congratulations!!!!!

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  74. Everything about this was so beautiful! Incorporating this tradition was absolutely amazing. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  75. Michelle B wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  76. Revanche wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  77. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  78. 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 =)

    heyamadea.com

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  79. Aisha S wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  80. Bella B wrote:

    How beautiful! I love you dress.

    http://xoxobella.com

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  81. 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!

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  82. geneva wrote:

    Wow! That dress is gorgeous! You look lovely 🙂

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  83. Tonya L wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply

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