China’s mega wedding industry has been known to set couples back tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. From China’s bride-price, the nation’s form of a dowry, to the extravagant wedding shoots, those who are headed down the aisle find themselves shelling out a lot of cash before their big day.
The new trend for brides and grooms in China are wedding photo shoots that require multiple outfit changes, various props and even exotic locations -- well, kind of. All the rage nowadays is a look that resembles the olden days, most popularly motifs of the western Old World. Foreign Policy says that one of these elaborate photo sessions can cost up to $15,000, and will often include all the 17th century gowns and corsets a bride could ever want.
But in order to capture the authenticity of the time period, photo studios' green screens and fake backdrops often don’t cut it. Enter, Thames Town, a mock-English village complete with cobblestone streets and an old Gothic church. Initially built in 2006 as a tourist attraction, the development did not catch that kind of attraction for the masses, despite its location near Shanghai. It did, however, become the perfect destination for Chinese wedding photo shoots.
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London-based photographer Paul Reiffer, who is currently staying in Shanghai, went by Thames Town to see how it's managing to survive. “Those buildings which aren’t yet derelict are nothing more than photo studios, waiting for their (evidently) captive audience to hand over cash,” he wrote on his website. While walking around the Old England dupe, he saw 23 concurrent wedding shoots happening, and called the place “a wedding-photo ‘Mecca.’”
“People come from far and wide to rent their outfits, get their 1-hour slot with a photographer and leave with some classic images suggesting they were in the heart of Europe for their special day,” Reiffer wrote.