Gallery: Shanghai's bikini brides and Speedo grooms
Wedding photo should be holy and healthy, and nude wedding photos are against Chinese marriage traditions. They are a bad influence on society, according to the Shanghai Wedding Industry Association.
Some wedding traditionalists are challenging the new trend and trying to hand newlyweds a few more items of clothing to put on.
Young people want it
Fang has been a supervisor at Tian Xing, one of the leading Shanghai wedding photo studios, for more than two years. Tian Xing currently the top high-end studio on Liba.com, and one of the best-known lifestyle and trade websites in Shanghai.
Fang shows off a set of bikini wedding shots on her computer.
The bride wears eye-catching bikinis, sometimes with a sari, but no wedding veil. The groom sports only a pair of trunks.
“You usually only see the brides, who are more open-minded, in these photos because the groom is not comfortable with it,” says Fang. “You also need to have enough confidence in your body.”
Fang explains that these types of sexy wedding photos are popular among couples in their mid-20s, but the majority of newlyweds are still posing for fully dressed traditional shoots.
From bikinis to nudity
In 2009, 147,413 Shanghai couples registered for marriage. Fang estimates that around 20 percent of the couples would be up for something more cutting-edge, such as bikini photos.
“A couple can choose up to six costumes for one set, and the open-minded ones would keep one shoot for bikinis,” says Fang. “When they have to show their wedding photos to their families, they use the more traditional ones.”
Nude wedding photos are also on people’s minds.
Another wedding photographer, who requested that his name be withheld, says that he once had a 28-year-old bride come in for a nude set.
The photographer said that the woman came to him only after she’d finished with her formal wedding photos.
“She said that (the nude photos) were kind of a souvenir of her youth,” says the photographer.
When asked if she’d go for an "alternative" photo set when she's married, Fang says that she would consider a set with bikinis, but probably not nudity.
Edgy marriage photos are not a completely new trend. A year ago a Chinese couple posted their bikini wedding photos on a popular Chinese forum. The six photos created an enormous controversy among Internet users.
A similar post on qq.com was followed by 138 pages of comments, with users almost evenly split on what they thought of the photo.
Netizen La Jiao Ban Bin Kuai (辣椒拌冰块) posted, “Times are changing and our thoughts are changing. These are beautiful. However, this type of bikini photo needs a girl with a great body.”
Her opinion was quickly opposed by Shang Cang Zhi Xin (上苍之心) who said people shouldn’t try absolutely everything in the name of art. Another netizen took the argument a step further, asking what would happen if brides and grooms started making sex tapes to commemorate their weddings.
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Zhuo Qing, a 25-year-old Beijing native, is among the presumed 20 percent of opened-minded brides -- she took a set of bikini wedding photos in Hainan this May.
“We didn’t have anything special in mind. Everything happened naturally,” says Zhuo Qing.
“We were in Sanya for our wedding photos, then we saw beaches and swimming pools, so we decided to take some photos in swimming costumes. For my other wedding photos, they were more romantic with me wearing my wedding dresses.”
Zhou says that these photos are fully acceptable within her social network. Her husband is fine with the idea and they even were accepted by her family.
“However, I wouldn’t accept nude wedding photos. I wouldn’t consider it,” she says.
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Traditionalists have a hard time swallowing sexed-up wedding photos.
According to Shanghai Oriental Morning Post, the Shanghai Wedding Industry Association is calling nude wedding photos, “the culture’s dark side and a result of malignant industry competition.”
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[I would] also need to make sure that they [nude wedding photos] wouldn’t leak out. It shouldn’t be illegal this way as this is a purely private matter between husband and wife,— Roxy Cui, would-be Chinese bride
He Lina, secretary general of the Shanghai Wedding Industry Association, claims that wedding photos should be holy and healthy, saying in the article that nude wedding photos are against Chinese marriage traditions, and a bad influence on the society.
“(We are) not sure which company is offering nude wedding photos. However, once we find out, our association will submit a request to Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau to crack down on them,” said He.
Several online commentaries followed the article, including one posted on China.com.cn.
Netizen Shen Dongpo questioned the article’s proposed relationship between nude wedding photos with “unhealthy, vulgar representation” and “its disrespect to marriage." Shen called it a matter of personal choice.
Beijingnese Zhuo wrote that wedding photos are a reflection of personal values and should not be subject to an industry association.
To others, such as Shanghai native Roxy Cui, who’s planning for her wedding for next March, preventing nude photos from leaking is the key to the story.
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“If I were going to take (nude wedding photos), I would have to find a photographer I know and take them in a private venue. I would also need to make sure that they wouldn’t leak out. It shouldn’t be illegal this way as this is a purely private matter between husband and wife,” says Cui.