SOME Chinese young lovers don’t want traditional weddings and instead choose innovative rites. They act out Cinderella and Prince Charming, release butterflies and pretend they’re lovers in old Shanghai, writes Xu Wei.
Shen Chen and his bride Liu Shanshan wore radiant Thai silk costumes, holy water was poured into their cupped hands, and every guest tied a string around the couple’s joined hands to signify unity.
It was a perfect Thai-style October wedding in Shanghai for the young white-collar workers from Harbin in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province.
In Thai style, too, Chinese elders gave their blessing to the union, though the couple’s parents stayed home and missed the very nontraditional ceremony.
Shen and Liu had planned a traditional Chinese wedding, but on a trip to Shanghai they were attracted by a promotion for a Thai-style wedding.
“We came all the way here to make our big day special and sweet,” Shen says. “The Thai-style wedding didn’t let us down. It was a unique and fresh experience. We didn’t want our wedding to be an awesome ritual.”
There’s no report on what their parents back in Harbin said.
The unusual nuptials are becoming more popular for couples in the 1980s generation, usually only children who were lavished with attention.
They have been called the “Me Generation” because they are often self-centered.
At the same time they remain conventional in pursuit of marriage.
They take their individual style right up to the altar, as it were.
Young people are looking for unique weddings, documented in lots of photos, that are very unlike their parents’ and peers’ ceremonies.
Innovative weddings are increasingly popular. Some couples wed on snowy mountains, in underwater gardens and in the baskets of hot-air balloons. Some even go to Paris.
Wu Weikang, a Shanghai police officer, and his bride Lou Hongli are just back from Canada for the annual Rose Wedding (a Shanghai Tourism Festival event) trip that took them to Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls where they tied the knot.
Last month, 11 Chinese couples (who already had registered) took a 10-day trip to Canada, sightseeing by helicopter and enjoying maple syrup.
The honeymoon was videotaped and screened on the Shanghai matchmaking TV program “Date on Saturday.”
“This travel-themed wedding offered us great fun and many memorable moments,” Wu says. “We were warmly welcomed by locals. In turn, we presented chocolate and candies to them, sharing our happiness.”
Wu says he didn’t want a routine traditional wedding, which can have complicated rites but is largely about eating and drinking.
Bride and bridegroom must toast table by table. Refusing to drink is considered rude and many a bride has been virtually carried out of her own wedding banquet.
Wedding planners are always trying to tap trends in wedding culture, such as travel.
This year Rose Wedding Cultural Development Co Ltd sent couples to Canada: every year, it’s a different place.
“The itinerary is carefully designed for newlyweds,” says Rose Wedding General Manager Cao Zhonghua.” We didn’t focus on the number of places. Instead, scenic resorts with romantic fun were our top priority.”
Every year about 150,000 couples get married in Shanghai.
Wang Gaosong, a veteran wedding planner at Original Wedding Assembly Hall, has watched the trend in creative weddings.
Many young people find traditional weddings, including a ceremony and sumptuous feast, tiring and unromantic.
“A successful wedding ceremony need not be costly or luxurious, but it should be unique and perfectly suit your personality,” Wang says.
He says many weddings are stereotypically big noisy banquets.
Brides usually carry the same Chinese-style bouquets and wedding hall decorations are very similar.
Wang has planned many creative weddings such as Scuba-diving and hot-air balloon weddings.
He can do close-up magic, mini dramas and carrying and lighting the “torch of love.”
An old Shanghai-style wedding was one of the most successful weddings planned by Wang and his team. The show was full of 1930s nostalgia and involved amateur actors playing flower-selling girls, rickshaw pullers and cops of that period.
At the ceremony, each guest receives a lottery ticket, conveying wishes for good luck from the newlyweds.
“Though traditional wedding ceremonies are still dominant, we bring fresh elements and concepts to satisfy the needs of young people,” Wang says. “Diversity should be always a key component of this vibrant wedding industry.”
The Cinderella fairytale has touched many girls since childhood. It has inspired couples to re-create the Cinderella-Prince Charming fantasy in their weddings.
The show includes pumpkin carriage favors, castle-like candles and wedding cake figurines of Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Crystal slippers, of course. The slipper is hidden and the bridegroom hunts for it as he is teased by guests. Then he finds it and looks for Cinderella. When the shoe fits, the wedding reaches a climax of fireworks, raindrops on falling flower petals and romantic music.
Butterflies, emerging from the chrysalis and spreading their wings, symbolize new beginnings the world over. In Chinese legend, butterflies are romantic and the tale of the separated and reunited “butterfly lovers” is famous.
In this wedding, butterflies are released into the air.
Butterfly weddings began overseas but they are no longer a novelty in Shanghai.
The wedding features butterfly decorations and accessories, butterfly guestbooks, ring pillows and flower-girl baskets. The cake is shaped like a butterfly and/or frosted with butterflies.
The highlight is the moment when the newlyweds release a pair of butterflies from a box. Then many butterflies are released, fluttering about, perhaps alighting on a guest.
A favorite is set in 1930-40s Shanghai. The backdrop and props are all there. The bride wears elegant qipao, reminding guests of scenes from Wong Kar-wai’s romance film “In the Mood for Love.”
The newlyweds play a couple who often play together innocently in childhood, they come to love each other as they get older and pledge their hearts.
After a long separation, the lovers are reunited to the soothing sounds of a guzheng (Chinese zither). They keep their long-ago promise and raise the curtain on a traditional Chinese wedding.
The bride and bridegroom first bow to heaven and earth, then to the bridegroom’s parents and last to each other. It’s a red-red, double-happiness Chinese wedding in the grand tradition.
(Source: Original Wedding Assembly Hall)
Author: Xu Wei
Original Source: Shanghai Daily
Date Published: 2008-11-17
Date Accessed Online: 2008-11-17