While visiting China’s most beautiful places you may wonder why it seems to be overrun with couples in wedding attire. Are they all getting married at this lake?! No, my friend; They are taking wedding photos. The culture and customs behind Chinese wedding photos are very different than that of America and most western countries. Lately more and more couples are wanting “western weddings”, complete with the big, poofy princess gown. Compared to a lot of western wedding dresses, Chinese “western-style” wedding dresses are a bit over the top. If I walked down the isle in one of these monstrosities, I’m not sure if my friends, family and future husband would be appalled or burst out laughing.
Since the Chinese are applying western wedding traditions to their own tastes, many dresses come in pastel shades rather than the traditional white color. Some brides also choose a red dress as a tasteful combination between western and Chinese styles and traditions. My favorite dresses are definitely the red ones. I wish I could wear red on my wedding day; I look so much better in red! But alas, I was born American and it won’t feel like a wedding unless I’m wearing a beautiful, white dress.
Chinese women also rent their dresses, which I think is a great idea and a good way to save money. The only issue with this philosophy is that the dresses aren’t altered to fit the bride’s body, making them look awkwardly baggy and ill-fitting on these tiny girls’ frames. I’ve never gotten a dress altered in my life, but from what I’ve heard (mainly from watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ one too many times), it’s definitely a necessity for a wedding dress.
Now what does all this have to do with Chinese wedding photos? Well, the Chinese love to pick and choose the aspects of western weddings that appeal to them, and don’t feel any need to abide by western traditions. Wedding photos? Yes! Photo shoots of any kind in China are always welcome. How else are they going to get tons of pictures for their Wechat and Weibo profiles?! But waiting until the wedding day to see the bride in her dress; Why would we do that when we can have more photos?! Hence the new tradition of spending a full day taking wedding photos prior to the wedding.
I’m not going to lie, this is actually a great idea. Chinese couples get their photos out of the way so that they can relax and enjoy the wedding. No awkward cocktail parties while the wedding couple is out and about taking photos. It also gives the couple more leeway in the wedding venue. Want beautiful outdoor wedding photos but you’re getting married in a hotel in the middle of the city? No problem! Now unfortunately for me, there’s no way I’m letting my future husband see me in my dress before I walk down the isle, and I’m probably going to try and scare him into thinking I want a Chinese “western-style” wedding dress monstrosity just for fun.
What does all of this mean for the average traveler? Be prepared to see hordes of couples getting their wedding photos taken on sunny days in beautiful locations. A few weeks ago I spent five days in Xiamen, a scenic beach city in southern China. There were tons of couples getting their wedding photos taken, and I couldn’t help but snap a few shots myself. I was actually surprised by the number of brides in red dresses because I normally only see white or pastel pink.
What do you think about taking wedding photos months in advance? Would you do it if it meant great photos in a cool location?
Also, what do you think of the red dresses?