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Chinese couples spare no expense hunting the perfect wedding photos

2017-09-11 07:07:26 CGTN

For many couples in the West, taking wedding photos is as simple as having a photographer show up on the big day, but for Chinese couples, the perfect wedding photo shoot is a meticulously planned event that happens before, not after, vows are even exchanged.

Taking wedding photos before the ceremony, sometimes months in advance has become a noticeable Chinese wedding tradition.

An advantage of taking the photos before the wedding is that they can be ready for everyone to see during the big day, especially since China’s younger generation sees the perfect pre-wedding photos as a gateway to a “happy marriage.” Also, wedding ceremonies in China are typically shorter than in Europe and America, so Chinese couples rarely have enough time to pose for photos after the ceremony, making them more willing to plan ahead.

“You can go to a studio to have pre-wedding pictures taken and you can pretend to be anywhere, they have so many backdrops,” said Da Song, 28, who will be tying the knot with his 24-year-old bride, Jiachun Lin, in China’s northeastern city of Harbin.

Of course, it’s better if you can actually go there, said Song, whose photoshoot with UK Wedding set him back 1,000 pounds (1,303 US dollars). UK Wedding is one of several London-based companies catering exclusively to clients from China.

“I went to university in Newcastle, so England has always been very important to me. I want to show my family and friends what it means to me,” Song said.

Living in a globally connected world and given rising incomes, young Chinese are increasingly looking to impress with lavish weddings that mix traditional elements and Western trends, complete with a walk down the aisle, bridesmaids, ushers and even a hired wedding planner.

Revenue for China’s wedding services industry was estimated to have reached 24.6 billion US dollars in 2016, data provider IBISWorld said in a report this year. That covered car rentals, restaurant decorations, photography and videography, among others.

The list of popular photo shoot destinations stretches from Indonesia’s resort island of Bali to London, Paris and picturesque blue-and-white Santorini in Greece.

A couple pose for photographs at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. Reuters Photo

“Some people just want to photo famous landmarks in London like Big Ben and the London Eye,” said UK Wedding founder Jeff Lu, adding that many couples now seek more authentic experiences.

“They might choose a really English-style small town, such as in the Cotswolds near Oxford,” he added.

For those who cannot travel, vast hangar-like Chinese studios bring the world to them, offering the chance to pose in front of a fake Greek village, a Chinese temple or the bedroom of French king Louis XIV– all in a single appointment.

Golden Ladies, one of Beijing’s 24x7 wedding photo studios, fills up with as many as 75 couples on a busy day.

Couples wait for their turn to be photographed at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. /Reuters Photo

At a recent shoot, Chen Xueling, dressed in a shimmering blue dress and surrounded by opulence befitting a princess, gazed into the eyes of fiance Wang Xinfeng.

The couple had to wait for three months for a slot.

“It’s worth it so that we can have these beautiful memories for the future,” Chen said. “During the wedding itself, we’ll put these photos on a screen.”

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