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.)