Yes, friends—in a twist on Where’s Waldo?, today we play Where’s the Bride?
There’s a lovely field of wildflowers near here, and on one beautiful Beijing morning I found myself passing by—only to discover that the place was crawling with brides. Or at least, brides who were getting their wedding photos taken (with or without their grooms). Make-up artists were present, along with professional photographers and their assistants—van loads of people. Serious business. Take no prisoners. Do or die.
Though honestly, I can’t think of a prettier place to have your picture taken, wedding or no.
Weddings are big business everywhere, but in China it’s a billion dollar industry that’s only growing—pretty amazing, given that the first official wedding company in China was established in 1990. These professionals do everything, from dressing hair to make-up, creating (expensive, airbrushed) wedding albums, providing clothing, designing your honeymoon. I’ve been to these planning centers (not because I’m getting married, mind you) and they are huge compounds. Wedding dresses are typically rented (though that may be changing), as are most outfits used in the album—usually three changes of clothing during a typical day of shooting, from traditional Chinese garb to more Western fare (if you want a nice dress, you’ll pay through the nose, I promise)—and the waiting area, when I was there, was filled with couples who were showing unequal amounts of enthusiasm about having their pictures taken. The guys acted bored, uncomfortable—while the women (and no, I’m not being unfair here) were energizer bunnies, getting primped, plucked, and sewn into their dresses. Folks are getting hitched, and doing it in style—never mind the bad economy.
Of course, I suppose this fits in with that recent Nightline piece (Pamela Britton and Gena Showalter looked beautiful, by the way) about how romance novels have done extremely well during the recession. Hurray for love!
Also, Sexy Beijing has a funny episode about weddings in China. I think I’ve shown this one before, but it’s well worth watching again.