Couples take vows in Sanya, Qinghai, Phuket, Bali, Maldives
Couple in romantic Sanya
More and more couples are choosing exotic locations abroad for their wedding days, Guo Shuhan reports.
The newlyweds stand on a polished marble floor covered with white-and-yellow frangipani, arm-in-arm, with joyful smiles on their faces. Fresh white roses are strewn along the aisle. Noon sunshine pours into the glass chapel, from which the blue Indian Ocean can be seen. In the evening, at a candlelit dinner on the beach, they sit on elaborately carved chairs, facing each other on either side of a 3-meter-long dining table and raise a toast. The scenes look as if they are from a TV drama, but they are actually wedding photos of Xun Lu and Men Mingren and were taken in May, in Bali, Indonesia.
Like many other young couples they were tired of trite posed portraits taken in front of fake settings at photo studios and wanted more personalized and lively wedding photos.
A picture of them running on the lawn beside the chapel hangs on their living room wall.
"Satisfied, happy and unforgettable," says 25-year-old Xun of the wedding photo experience.
Ke Lijuan, a customer representative of Wedding Tours International, which organized the couple’s photoshoot and specializes in providing wedding services in Bali, says business has improved since the company first participated in the Marriage Expo, in Beijing, 2009, when few people gave their counter a second glance.
"The next year people were curious about going abroad to do their wedding photos. This year, they started to compare our service with that of our counterparts," Ke says.
"Wedding photos set in an exotic environment bring sweeter recollections. When people thumb through their photos, it’s just like reviewing a romantic story."
The customer representative says people are inclined to combine a holiday with a wedding ceremony and honeymoon, which is economic and saves time.
Li Yang, Wedding Tours International’s marketing manager, says the company assisted 26 couples with their wedding photos by September 2011, which is as many as it had served in 2009.
The figure accounts for just 10 percent of the consultations it has, however, as many couples contact the company just a few weeks before their big day. However, preparations need to be made about six months in advance. Rejected visas and higher costs are the main obstacles for an overseas wedding, Li says.
The most sought after travel destinations are Bali, Phuket Island in Thailand and the Maldives, where visitors can apply for visas on arrival and are cheaper than European countries.
Men Mingren says his wedding trip was "fairly worthwhile", although it cost nearly 60,000 yuan ($9,400), which included a wedding ceremony in Bali, a 6-minute video clip, tourist trips and a honeymoon of 15 days, in total, to Bali and South Korea.
Paris was one of Yang Yawei’s dream destinations when she imagined her wedding in 2008, but the near-100,000 yuan cost was too much.
The Beijinger instead went to Mount Siguniang, or Mount Four Sisters, in Sichuan province’s Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, as she had long been enchanted by the thrilling views of snow-capped mountains.
Although she suffered from altitude sickness at more than 4,300 meters above sea level, which turned her lips blue and forced her to take frequent breaks, she managed to present a smiling face for the lens amid some breathtaking landscapes.
"I knew it would be cold, but never thought about the sickness," recalls Yang. "I wanted a sense of grandness and dignity. And I thought the snow-capped mountain would produce a tremendous moment. It was quite romantic when the snowflakes drifted in the wind around us."
The trend of going away for wedding photos emerged five or six years ago, says Shan Shan, manager of Vision Two Photographic Organization’s flagship studio in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The company, established in 2004, claims to be the country’s largest wedding photo studio for location shooting.
Shan says that since 2008 her studio has taken nearly 1,000 wedding photos of couples at Qinghai Lake in Qinghai province.
The company’s studio in Sanya, Hainan province, received about 1,000 couples in 2007 from Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces. Nearly 2,200 pairs have arrived during the first nine months this year.
"Brides not only want themselves to be perfect in their wedding photos, but also seek natural and personalized backgrounds – different from that of their relatives, friends and colleagues.
Used to the scenes of Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Huang Yu and her husband posed among groves of colorful lilies at Shixianghu Lake, near Chengdu, for their wedding photos. They also beamed with delight in Bali.
"If possible, we plan to mark every wedding anniversary with a new set of wedding photos taken in different locations." Huang says.
"It’s not just simple travel experiences, these photos will also be testimonies to our lifelong companionship."
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