Across China, rural-style weddings gain popularity among young couples

BEIJING (XINHUA) – Mr Xavier Garnier, 48, who comes from France, said he would never forget his traditional Chinese wedding at a historic village in China.

As fireworks illuminated the sky, Mr Garnier exchanged wedding vows with his Chinese bride Zhao Lixin at a well-decorated farmhouse by the Mihe river in Ms Zhao’s hometown of Zhaosi, in east China’s Shandong province, on a summer day in 2015.

Mr Garnier said he decided to hold the wedding in Zhaosi as it lies along the Mihe river, which he said reminded him of 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,” Ms Zhao said.

The couple met for the first time at a French music festival in 2012 organised by Mr Garnier.

When they decided to get married, Mr Garnier suggested holding a simple, creative and traditional wedding at Ms Zhao’s hometown.

Just like Ms Garnier and Ms 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,” Mr Garnier said.

He said he was thrilled by the 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 their blessings.

Ms Zhao, a vlogger on Xiaohongshu, a Chinese lifestyle-oriented social media platform, has noticed that the platform has lately been flooded with photos and videos of rural weddings.

Searches for the topic “village weddings” on the platform increased by 134 per cent in the first quarter of the year, data from Xiaohongshu showed. The number of posts related to rural weddings has also grown by 421 per cent during this period.

“The simple but aesthetic village weddings have been favoured by young people,” said Ms Zhao.

Ms Zhao, who grew up in a rural area, said, in the past, parents and some family elders would organise 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,” she said.

After spending some two decades in China, Mr 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”.