Home >> Hot Issue

Redefining weddings in the age of individuality

Updated: 2024-03-13 08:06 ( China Daily Global )
Share - WeChat
Top left: Niu Yajie (left) and her husband in the Hobbiton Movie Set in New Zealand. Top right: Peng Zhegong (central left) and Xiong Ying (central right) on their wedding bus with friends. Above: Hou Naibin (left) and Xu Lizhen (right) at the Wulanhada Volcano Geopark in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Modern couples opt for personalized, eco-friendly, and cost-effective weddings, redefining marriage with unique twists and meaningful experiences, Meng Wenjie reports.

Xu Lizhen, 29, had previous experience serving as a bridesmaid at a friend's wedding and visited two wedding expos. She learned firsthand how complex and expensive a traditional wedding can be.

So, when she and Hou Naibin, 34, tied the knot last year, they opted for a simple and relaxed ceremony in Hou's hometown of Yingkou, Northeast China's Liaoning province.

They chose not to hire a professional makeup artist or prepare elaborate wedding attire, sparing themselves the hassle of early morning makeup sessions and outfit changes. Instead, Hou donned his work suit while Xu wore a red dress provided by the wedding venue.

During the ceremony, they shared a video documenting their journey to various cities across China over the past six months since their marriage registration. For example, at the Wulanhada Volcano Geopark in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the couple, with Hou dressed as an astronaut and Xu in her wedding gown, took a series of photos titled "Elope to Mars".In the photos, the two joyfully present the double-happiness symbol, which consists of two xi (joy) characters joined together.

"The wedding itself may seem simple, but we put a lot of effort into the preparation. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so I didn't want to settle for a cookie-cutter, assembly-line wedding," Hou said.

According to Wang Yichen, 31, a wedding planner at WOX! wedding studio, an increasing number of young people are opting for simple and easygoing weddings.

With nine years of experience in the industry, Wang has planned nearly 300 weddings. She said that when she first entered the industry in 2016, the trend of simplifying wedding traditions was relatively niche. However, out of the 20 to 30 weddings she coordinates annually today, 95 percent of them are simple and intimate affairs.

In traditional weddings, it's common to invite many guests. Wang still remembers that in the first few years of her working as a wedding planner, grand banquets were a staple of many Chinese weddings. The couple's friends typically constituted only a small proportion, with the majority being relatives and family friends, often numbering several hundred in total.

"Currently, the weddings we plan typically have around 100 guests, and many weddings have only around 50 guests," Wang said. "A lot of young people would rather turn weddings into get-togethers with old friends."

Recently, 29-year-old bride Xiong Ying and her 30-year-old groom Peng Zhegong added a delightful twist to the age-old wedding procession. In January, this couple from Wuhan, the capital city of Central China's Hubei province, arrived at their wedding venue aboard a bus — yes, a bus.

Unlike traditional weddings that often involve a fleet of luxury vehicles to escort the couple to the wedding venue, this unconventional choice, dubbed the "Happiness Bus", stands out. Painted mainly in red, a color symbolizing various positive meanings in Chinese culture, the bus is tailored specifically for weddings.

"I was inspired by the wedding bus services shared by other couples on Xiaohongshu. After learning that Wuhan also offers a similar service, we decided to opt for it," Xiong said.

So far, the topic of "wedding bus" has garnered over 1.84 million views on the Chinese lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu.

In traditional weddings, the ceremony typically begins with the groom, along with the groomsmen, traveling to the bride's house in the early morning.

After they arrive, they'll have to pass the "door games" — a series of challenges designed by the bridesmaids — to get in and see the bride.

Yet, processes like this usually require a significant amount of time, and newlyweds must rush through breakfast to promptly head to the wedding venue at an "auspicious" time.

However, with a wedding bus capable of accommodating over 20 people, door games can be conducted onboard the bus. While on the way to the wedding venue, the couple and their young friends can also enjoy a delightful and relaxed mobile party.

Cut to the chase

Wang highlighted an innovative wedding format known as the "3 No's" ceremony, which involves no escorting, no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and no marriage witnesses, also widely known as a "minimalist wedding". The specific elements omitted can vary based on personal preferences.

Niu Yajie, 26, and her husband share a mutual love for the movie The Lord of the Rings. So, instead of a traditional wedding ceremony, they decided to travel to New Zealand, where many scenes of the movie were filmed.

During their visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, they specifically recreated scenes depicting the everyday activities of the Hobbits featured in the movie, such as making cheese and brewing honey.

While taking photos by a lake in Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand, there happened to be a yacht on the lake with a group of local young people having a party. They noticed Niu and her husband taking wedding photos and intentionally turned the yacht toward them, waving and loudly wishing them a happy marriage.

"Encountering such warm blessings in a foreign country was a novel experience," said Niu.

Having a wedding trip was also a decision made after considering economic concerns. According to Niu, a medium-sized wedding may require up to 200,000 yuan ($27,808) in Shanghai.

Although guests attending weddings often give "red envelopes" as a wedding gift, Niu mentioned, "in 80 percent of cases, the red envelopes received by the couple cannot even cover the cost of hosting the wedding". This is why the couple chose to allocate the wedding budget to their own experiences — taking a trip.

Break the mold

According to Wang, changes in societal attitudes are mirrored in the wedding industry.

For example, more and more young people are embracing sustainable environmental concepts. In the weddings Wang planned, a significant number of couples requested that the flowers used for decoration be arranged into small bouquets and distributed to guests after the wedding, instead of being discarded outright.

Traditional well-wishes for fertility are also losing their popularity. Zaoshengguizi (looking forward to the birth of a new baby), for instance, used to be the most prevalent wedding blessing. "One bride I spoke with chose to remain child-free, so she firmly expressed her preference not to receive any blessings resembling zaoshengguizi at the ceremony," said Wang.

Instead, people are steering toward happiness. Take the bouquet toss tradition as an example. It's transitioning from wishing the recipient to find their ideal partner to simply wishing them happiness. At Xiong and Peng's wedding, Xiong tossed a bunch of lettuce instead of a bouquet, because lettuce, or shengcai in Chinese, sounds like the word "making a fortune".

"When everyone was scrambling for the lettuce, the atmosphere was lively and joyful," Xiong said.

Even the definition of marriage itself is changing. "Marriage used to be perceived as the bride joining the groom's family. Nowadays, however, couples are more inclined to view marriage as the union of two individuals, the establishment of a new family," Wang said.

"For me, getting married didn't drastically change my life because we had always gotten along well and trusted each other," said Xu. "I don't think getting married will make anything different from our regular outings, travels, or movie nights. The wedding is simply the icing on the cake."

Hot words
Most Popular