Behind the Scenes of the Chinese Trend of Pre-Wedding Sessions
Photographer: Roman Pilipey
Chinese couples used to be satisfied with a single black and white photograph taken on their wedding as a memento of their special day. But times have changed dramatically, and the wedding photographs, especially pre-wedding photo sessions, have become big business in China. In the main touristic spots in different cities across China, it is easy to see couples having their pre-wedding pictures shoots, which becomes the must-have for every Chinese couple before their marriage.
Unlike Western weddings, where usually couples have their photos taken on the wedding day, for the Chinese it is quite popular to have their day-long photo sessions way before their actual weddings. Sometimes it can be half a year or even a year in advance of the ceremony. To make these pre-wedding photos as unique as possible, lots of couples will select unusual spots as a backdrop, such as a fake field with deer and a sky full of stars, or in an interior scene made to look like one of the largest religious Cambodian monuments, Angkor Wat; all of these spots can be found in photo studios. Some couples even choose other countries for their pre-wedding sessions. Often for their photo shoots couples go for traditionally romantic cities such as Paris. Those who can't afford such a trip to have pre-wedding photos with the Eiffel Tower can have their photo taken in front of Chinese replicas of the main world’s tourist sights. Other couples prefer more traditional outdoor locations, like Beijing’s Hutong neighborhood, or to be surrounded by nature like in Dali, where lots of couples do their pre-wedding photography next to Erhai Lake.
These sessions can range in price from a few hundred up to thousands of dollars, with companies providing clients with everything from outfits to make up and transportation. Brides typically have at least three dress changes per shoot. Inspired by the Western style, many choose a flowing white wedding dress, a Chinese-style red gown, and something more modern. The shoots are just one part of a booming industry in China. A wedding for most newly married couples can run from 50,000 (6,500 euros) yuan to 200,000 yuan (26,000 euros), with larger amounts not uncommon in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai. China's wedding industry was valued at 1.46 trillion yuan in 2017, and it is expected to grow to 3 trillion yuan (around 388 billion euros) by 2021.