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
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  1. 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!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  2. Karen wrote:

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

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  4. 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
  5. Melissa wrote:

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  6. 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
  7. Emma wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Danielle wrote:

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


    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  13. 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
  14. Paola wrote:

    You look beautiful!

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


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


    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  17. 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
  18. Beautiful photos!
    Mademoiselle Coconath

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  20. 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
  21. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing this moment.


    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. You both look so classy… your hair style is simply gorgeous!


    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  25. Trang Do wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  26. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  27. 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
  28. 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.

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  29. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. Carla Krae wrote:

    Just lovely. Congratulations again.

    Posted 9.16.15 Reply
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. So beautiful, congratulations!!!!!

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  42. Michelle B wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  43. 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
  44. 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
  45. 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 =)


    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  46. Aisha S wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  47. Bella B wrote:

    How beautiful! I love you dress.


    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  48. 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
  49. geneva wrote:

    Wow! That dress is gorgeous! You look lovely 🙂

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply
  50. Tonya L wrote:

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

    Posted 9.15.15 Reply

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