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!

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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.

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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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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! ❤️

  • Reply 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. 😉


  • Reply 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!

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

    Congratulations Jean, you are so pretty in the dress.

  • Reply Anonymous September 17, 2015 at 1:53 am

    That dress is amazing!!

  • Reply 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 =)

  • Reply mybeautrip September 17, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Such a nice ceremony and emotive pics.


  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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.

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

    Such beautiful photos Jean!

    xo | The Fashion Forecast

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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! :')


  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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? 🙂

  • Reply 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?

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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!

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

    Congrats! What a stunning and gorgeous dress!


  • Reply 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!


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

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

  • Reply 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.

  • Reply 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!

  • Reply 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! 😉

  • Reply 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?

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



  • Reply Dice September 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm

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

  • Reply 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

  • Reply 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!!

  • Reply 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?

  • Reply 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! 🙂

  • Reply 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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