Much of China’s wedding tourism has a different flavour to some of the ‘destination weddings’ common in the West, according to coverage of the trend in Jing Daily last year.
The focus is less on an intimate, personal day for the couple and their closest friends and relatives, and more on capturing the event in all of its visual glory, for the primary purpose of showing off.
“The perceived higher status is a psychological factor. After all, an overseas wedding is still novel and perceived to be more expensive. Hence, exotic wedding photos will stand out on WeChat newsfeeds and win the envy of friends,” a wedding planner told the travel site.
Destinations have also been marketing themselves as romantic locations by hosting the weddings of Chinese celebrities. When the actress Yao Chen tied the knot in Queenstown in New Zealand, she told the story to 66 million of her fans on Sina Weibo, with the New Zealand tourism board a very willing host. Something similar happened when pop star Jay Chou took the unexpected decision to get married at Selby Abbey in northern England. Nearby Castle Howard hosted the reception, rushing out a brochure in Chinese for future visitors. So many couples from China later wanted their pre-wedding photos taken at the abbey in Selby that the church is now charging £100 per time.
Another favourite for pre-wedding photos in Britain are stately homes, drawing on the popularity of the drama series Downton Abbey. The locals seem bemused by many of the shoots, however, thinking they are witnessing the real event. “We had a crowd of over 200 people watching us,” one would-be groom outside St Paul’s Cathedral told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post last year. “I didn’t know where to look. I’ve never felt so embarrassed in my life.”
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