One of my favorite streets in Beijing is Xisi Nan Dajie. Besides being one of the few remaining shopping streets in the old part of the city, it’s main claim to fame these days is being ‘wedding studio’ street.
For the mile or so that runs between Xisi and Xidan, many of the storefronts on either side of the road are expensive wedding studios, all with very fancy (and romantic) sounding names. Milan Spring. Paris. Love Castle.
Two of the biggest ones are next door to the Gangwashi Church, which I attended when I lived in Beijing. Every Sunday morning I enjoyed walking from the subway to the church and eyeing the latest wild outfits on display in the windows.
Wedding photographs in modern Chinese culture are a BIG deal, and couples spend LOTs of money. But unlike in the West, having the photos taken is an event in and of itself!
“The wedding banquet comes later. For many Chinese couples, married life really begins in the photo studio where, basted in glitter and hair gel, the brides dressed for a debut at La Scala or night out with Fabio, they gaze upon sets so tufted and inlaid and gold-foiled that comparisons to the real places that seem to have served as models—Versailles, the homes of Donald Trump—don’t quite suffice. This isn’t just a ritual for the rich and corrupt. Flinty investigative reporters, law professors at the country’s best universities, bank tellers, even men and women who ordinarily dress and live in a manner that suggests only the most passing of concern with appearances, still greet visitors to their modest homes with towering portraits of themselves surrounded by velvet and marble.”
And lest you think this is a homegrown phenomenon, the author reminds us that it is an import from Taiwan:
“Wedding studios first came to the mainland from Taiwan in the ’90s at the very beginning of China’s rocket-like economic ascent. And they have multiplied and evolved as new groups have amassed the funds necessary to support 3,000 to 130,000 RMB shoots.”
Please visit China File to see the entire collection of photos.
When visiting parks or other scenic spots in China its not uncommon to spot one of these wedding shoots. Sometimes there is one couple, sometimes numerous couples — all out for the day together getting their pictures taken.
Here’s a collection of some I’ve run across over the years:
This is one of my favorites…