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Weddings in the New Era


  Text by Mai Tian

  No matter the country or culture, weddings always rank near the top of social rituals. Statistics show that every year on average, 2.5 percent of China´s GDP is spent on weddings. From a cultural aspect, the Chinese place great importance on family, and marriage is essential to a family´s preservation. A decent wedding not only shows respects for both families of the newlyweds, but also serves as the optimum occasion to showcase a family´s wealth and power to friends and relatives. How to organize a wedding and what kind to choose are topics that many young Chinese couples must seriously consider as the big day approaches.

   A Garden Wedding

   Qiao Nan, born in 1980s, is a Beijing office worker. After dating for more than a year, she and her boyfriend finally set a date and began planning their wedding.

   Through heated discussions between the families, Qiao and her fiance finally persuaded their parents to accept a garden wedding. Traditionally, Chinese families willinvite as many friends and relatives as both sides can find, creating a bustling and crowded scene. But at a garden wedding, the desired scene is more "under the blue sky, the bride and groom walk into the sunset," providing a different aesthetic and limiting the number of guests. Atsuch a wedding,invitees often will not exceed 100, considerably fewer than at traditional Chinese weddings. Conse quently, only close friends and relatives can be invited to the wedding, whereas other friends and relatives are only invited to the following receptions.

   To respect their parents´ feelings, the couple prepared an indoor banquet to accompany the garden wedding, and planning the whole event kept them busy for months.

   On the day of the wedding, Qiao´s groom picked her up from her maiden home, in accordance with Chinese tradition, to head to the wedding site together. Before the ceremony began, the couple remained busy with their final touches, and continued briefing the situation in their room. Although the ceremony started at a carefully chosen auspicious time, it was primarily Western style. The father of the bride walked his daughter down the aisle towards the groom. Together, the couple passed under an arch made of flowers, passing their friends and relatives, before stopping in the ceremonial area. Here, a master of ceremonies (MC) replaced the usual minister in West, followed by a funny and emotional ceremony combining Chinese elements. Finally, the MC arrived at the big moment: "I now pronounce you man and wife." However, "you may kiss the bride" was replaced by an exchange of rings.

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