By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua
wed at a small theatre in Beijing by performing a play about
our love story," said Wang Zhe, owner of a small restaurant
in one of central Beijing's alleys, "I am the playwright and
all the actors and actresses are my friends and relatives."
office worker Li Runya, 26, on the other hand, said frankly
that she and her husband had no wedding ceremony. A year
before, they registered as a couple and had been living
country with its thousand-year-long traditional style
wedding, has seen constant changes in the past decades in
how people celebrated marriage.
1970s: "Let's bow to Chairman Mao's portrait."
the then 22 and 19-year-old doctors Mr. Wang Shan and Ms.
Yang Ying, walked into a local marriage office in the
central Henan Province with letters of reference written by
their respective work units, proving they had approval to
photographs, no wedding gowns. Instead, they bowed to
Chairman Mao Zedong's portrait, worshipped at home, and to
their parents afterwards.
monthly salary of 30 yuan (4.4 U.S. dollars), Wang borrowed
a door panel from his work unit to be their "new" bed. They
gave candies to colleagues and relatives and in return, got
teacups and paintings as gifts.
people in the 70s, our dream was to own 'three wheeled
things and one vocal thing' which, namely, are a bicycle, a
sewing machine, a watch and a radio," said Yang.
1980s: "I blushed when we kissed at the wedding."
friends forced us to kiss at the wedding in front of parents
and relatives," recalled Han Tong, who got married in 1988.
"It was very embarrassing indeed."
was an innocent and conservative age when people took love
and marriage very seriously. We barely kissed or hugged in
public," added the 46-year-old man.
Shuangding, 58, now a librarian at the eastern Nanjing
University of Science and Technology, had a different story
to tell. "My wife's parents strongly objected to our
marriage though we had been in love for three years. All we
could do was to get registered as a couple and continue to
Sun's wife finally persuaded her family, but due to "tight
money issues", the couple was unable to hold a wedding. "We
only went to nearby Zhenjiang city for a trip."
large, our fathers' dreams of watch and radio came true
during the 80s," said Sun, "but we still could only manage
to live frugally. Homemade furniture was popular and basic
electric appliances such as a TV and refrigerator became
common in urban families."
1990s: A western style bridal veil, pink and rented
38, recalled how she fought to be a fashionable bride in
1995. She insisted on wearing a western bridal veil on the
freezing winter day despite strong objections from her
rather go to hospital after the wedding," said the
courageous woman. Finally, the mother and the daughter made
a compromise: the bride wore her dream veil, but only in
pink as white was traditionally used for funerals.
six months of her salary to just rent the veil. "Western
style wedding dresses were the trend in the 1990s. Most
young people chose to wear western suits and gowns at
weddings, at any cost," she said, full of excitement even
that time, a groom had to give his bride a ring, a necklace
and a pair of earrings, all gold, as wedding gifts,
according to Zhi's husband Wang. Washing machines, stereos
and honeymoon trips became hot choices for newly-weds.
added, "Another interesting thing is that professional
wedding service companies came into being and became popular
very quickly. At first, they only provided dresses for
renting and helped brides put on make-ups; later on, they
took on everything from car arrangement to ceremony
21st century: "A play" vs. "a certificate"
century China has seen a division in how people choose to
get married, typically the "play" type and the "certificate"
"play" type, such as restaurant owner Wang, put a great deal
of effort into planning special weddings. The "certificate"
type, such as office worker Li Runya, on the other hand, are
happy to live together with their other halves without any
who had been with her husband for over a year now, told
Xinhua, "As we have just finished furnishing our new
apartment, we are likely to have a wedding early next year."
born in the 1980s, a "one-child" generation who were often
considered spoiled and rebellious. Brought up in a
relatively well-off China, this generation had access to a
wide range of information and has become familiar with
25, now working in Melbourne, Australia, got married two
years ago before she left China. Like Li, she and her
husband only had a marriage certificate and had been living
others, though, didn't even wait to get officially
registered to live together. "I can totally understand if
two people in love live together before getting married,"
said Wu Dan, a customer service worker in a U.S. company's
Shanghai office, "but as girls, we also have to beware of
every 20-something who was interviewed said they could
accept living with their boyfriend or girlfriend before
getting married. However, they all emphasized that they had
to be quite sure he or she was the right person before
having sex or living with them. (Xinhua Net, Dec. 8, 2008)