Across China: Rural-style weddings gain popularity among young couples
BEIJING, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Xavier Garnier, 48, who hails from France, said he would never forget his traditional Chinese wedding at a historic village in China.
As fireworks illuminated the sky, Garnier exchanged wedding vows with his Chinese bride Zhao Lixin in a well-decorated farmhouse by the Mihe river in Zhao's hometown of Zhaosi Village, in east China's Shandong Province, on a summer day in 2015.
Garnier attributes his decision of holding the wedding in Zhaosi to the meandering Mihe River, which he believes is quite similar to the Loire River in his hometown in Maine-et-Loire.
"When I first brought Garnier home, he was thrilled and said Zhaosi Village is just like his hometown," Zhao said.
The couple met for the first time at a French music festival in 2012 that was organized by Garnier, and their romance blossomed. When they decided to get married, Garnier suggested holding a simple, creative and traditional wedding in Zhao's hometown.
Just like Garnier and Zhao, an increasing number of young Chinese couples are opting for idyllic village weddings rather than those held in opulent city restaurants.
The wedding venues range from vegetable patches and grass fields to pastoral areas near rivers, offering a fusion of contemporary trends and traditional rituals.
"The Chinese wedding ceremony is very different from that in France," Garnier said, adding he was thrilled with many customs such as lifting up the red bridal veil, the bride and groom stepping across a brazier together, and bowing down to the parents to seek blessings.
Zhao, a vlogger on Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle-oriented social media platform, has noticed that the platform is flooded with photos and videos of rural weddings.
Searches for the topic "village weddings" on the platform increased by 134 percent year on year in the first quarter of this year, data from Xiaohongshu showed. The number of posts related to rural weddings has also grown by 421 percent year on year during this period.
"The simple but aesthetic village weddings have been favored by young people," Zhao said.
Zhao, who grew up in a rural area, said that in the past, parents and some family elders used to organize the processes and rituals of wedding ceremonies.
"However, as a growing number of young people settle in cities, they have introduced new ideas and concepts to rural weddings, which has made traditional Chinese weddings more dynamic and vibrant," Zhao said.
After spending some two decades in China, Garnier believes that the increasing popularity of rural weddings demonstrates that "young Chinese are more confident about their culture and prefer to decide their wedding ceremonies on their own."