On Sunday morning, before Lesley headed off to Jinggu for a follow-up trip, we had a walk up Tea Mountain with our VSO visitors and Tina. It was fairly typical - building work at the bottom, snack vendors selling a variety of pickled and spicy fruit or vegetables from plastic basins, and numerous about-to-be-newly-weds having their pre-nuptial photos taken. All of the brides were in white dresses, and their grooms in white tuxedos with pointed patent leather shoes. Such wedding photo sessions are usually separate from the actual wedding, which is also separate from the dinner. In fact, the banquet (with hundreds of guests who give hong bao [a red envelope containing money]) is usually the last stage and most important event - a public acknowledgement of the marriage. The contract-signing and pictures are minor formalities compared to the banquet. While some couples opt to have their photos taken outside, studio shots are also popular. The advantage of an indoor session is the broader selection of costumes that can be slipped on and off between back-drop changes. Many couples opt for both traditional and modern (white dress) outfits for their albums.

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