Wedding photography in China

Wedding photography in China is really on a whole different level than in the U.S. The bride and groom dedicate an entire day to (more often than not) themed portraiture before the event itself. It doesn't really count as an engagement shoot since the couple wear their actual wedding attire. I walked past some crazy outfits in downtown Tianjin! The bride and groom above are pretty glamorously attired, but some donned poofy ball gowns with giant sleeves and turquoise tuxedos. I secretly stole some old black and white photographs of my mom in an elegant, ivory-hued, and tiered wedding dress standing on a beautiful balcony with a hazy sky beyond and my dad in a dark suit with a expertly draped scarf around his neck posed against the same background. Those weren't their wedding clothes; they couldn't afford such things back in the day. Newlyweds used to go to photography studios with in-house dresses and suits, put on the borrowed attire, and pay for a few shots posed against different wall-sized posters depicting majestic waterfalls or inky woods. My grandparents had the same style of photographs retaken on their anniversary. One was blown up and hung in their living/bedroom. My grandmother paired her borrowed studio dress with red lipstick and pearls and my grandpa wore a crisply tailored suit with the most fabulous trilby hat and tortoise shell glasses. They stood together against surreal blue-green foliage with a veritable castle visible through the vividly-hued leaves.  I used to stare at this portrait in admiration all the time as a child. It wasn't a real moment from their actual wedding and I knew it. But folks did what they could back in that time and place to create beautiful memories, and I held onto that romantic and hopeful vision for both my parents and grandparents.

Veronica Zhang