Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A truth universally acknowledged


Weddings in Hong Kong are accompanied by incredible fanfare, enormous expense, and fascinating rituals, one of which is the tradition that the wedding photographs are taken months in advance, often in the most ridiculous locations and involving numerous costume changes for the bride-to-be. These photos are then sent out with the wedding invitations to procure as many possible attendees for the wedding banquet. It's purely a numbers game: each guest has to bring a "red packet" full of cash so the happy couple can recoup the enormous costs of staging their wedding feast (and taking the ludicrous photos).

My friend C has someone in her office whose wedding photos were all taken on a trip to the UK with a Brief Encounter-style storyline involving ancient train stations, steam trains, and pensive shots in 1940s headgear. When my IT manager got married, his photos were taken around Hong Kong in locations and scenarios which the bride and groom are, frankly, unlikely ever to find themselves in again; in one shot, he's riding a bicycle across a park while she perches on the back in overblown gown; in another, the one I was lucky enough to be sent, he's crossing a stream, trousers rolled up, in his arms the smiling bride in billowing green chiffon.

It's the day before Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day, a public holiday, and on my way from Admiralty to Lan Kwai Fong for a friend's birthday drinks, I spotted three couples having their photos done. I couldn't resist taking a photo of the last pair: in an absolutely perfect illustration of the aspirational nature of Hong Kong weddings, they were posing outside the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Central.


(I regret that I couldn't take a better photograph and had to use the rotten little camera on my Blackberry. She actually looked rather beautiful and was obviously as happy as Larry; the groom was definitely second string.)

7 comments:

nmj said...

But what if they split up before the wedding - they'd have all those photos to remind them.

She does look beautiful, the lady in red.

Grande Poobah said...

haha! not only did JJ have the brief encounter shots ("people followed us all round Windsor!" she announced wide-eyed, as if two HK Chinese in 40s style garb were usual for the home counties) she also had a set taken outside Harrods (which she assured me would be "tasteful").

Needless to say, yet another lost in translation moment.....

mancsoulsister said...

My friend in Singapore and her Dutch husband had a series of snow scenes for their wedding photos - ironic really because said friend has never actually seen real snow!!!

Deke Writin said...

The JPEG compression in the top image makes it looks as though it is a fuzzy video screen-capture from a HK crime film from the '80s. It appears to capture the moment before the hero's life falls apart in a hail of lead.

LottieP said...

Maybe their lives do fall apart immediately thereafter, Deke - but then, as NMJ says, they will always have the photos ("When We Were Materialistic").

There must be a website somewhere, GP and MSS, (with a name such as www.wealthee.com, for example), where you can post similar examples of this peculiar genre (anonymously of course).

mancsoulsister said...

My friend in Singapore also said that the make up they put on for the photos is about an inch thick and needs special industrial strength remover to get it off. The photos did look good but it was an awful lot of effort and expense for what are effectively false memories.

Mummy said...

My favourite was the couple who I saw having them taken on the small patch of grass at the top of Repulse Bay Road where the road splits into three to go to Repulse Bay, Aberdeen and Happy Valley. It is opposite a petrol station. Surely there must be more scenic grass somewhere in HK?