Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years

August 10, 2009
Editor: yf

Child brides, arranged marriages, concubines and polygamy were common phenomena in China 60 years ago. The 1950 Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China (PRC), first to be enacted in New China,  abolished the feudal marriage system of arranged and coerced marriages. It set the pace for a change of attitude that freed women from discrimination and oppression and rejected the concept of men as superior to women and of offspring as expendable. The law cleared the way for a new institution, characterized by freedom of marriage, monogamy, gender equality, and the protection of women and children's lawful rights and interests.

Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years
Quan Yusheng (L) and Sun Guihua (R), farmers from Baitutan village, Liling county in Hunan Province, registered their marriage with the local government on November 9, 1952. A cadre issued their marriage certificate. Freedom of marriage in rural areas became common after promulgation of the Marriage Law in 1950.
Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years
Dong Shigui, leader of the Chinese Volunteers cavalry communications squad and his bride Gao Guizhen, a model worker from Hebei Province, at their marriage ceremony on the North Korean front line on December 1, 1953.
Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years
Bride Wu Shurui and her groom Li Changle, both bus drivers, changed bus lines three times on the way to their wedding ceremony at Li's house on December 27, 1981.
Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years
The wedding trend whereby the bridegroom, a posy of red flowers pinned to his lapel, took his bride by bicycle through local streets and alleys on their wedding day was popular in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province during the 1990s.
Changes in Chinese Weddings Over 60 Years
Beijing Public Security Bureau sponsored a group wedding ceremony on October 26, 2008 for the 208 police officers and their brides who postponed their weddings until after the Beijing Olympics. The wedding ceremony took place beside the National Stadium (Bird's Nest).

The Amendments to the Marriage Law of the PRC in 1980 emphasized the principle of family planning, and further amendments in 2001 provided diadvantaged people with more guarantees.

The love that inspires the commitment necessary for marriage is expressed in a classical Chinese poem, which declares: "Meet or part, live or die / we've made oath, you and I / Give me your hand, I'll hold! / Together we'll grow old."

Chinese wedding ceremonies have changed in tandem with the advancement and development of society. These wedding photos show the changes in style of Chinese wedding ceremony which also reflect those over decades in the politics, economy and culture of China. But although each wedding ceremony may be different, the vows remain the same. They state: "I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live."

(Source: Translated by

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