Taking a break from a hectic pre-wedding photo shoot. Photo: AFP / Fred Dufour

A happy couple exchange a kiss for the camera.

The bride is wearing a white off-the-shoulder dress and is holding a delicate bouquet while the groom, in a matching white suit, stands next to her on a green lawn lined with pink blossom.

It looks like the perfect wedding memory – except it’s not their wedding day.

Instead, it is part of a booming industry in China for increasingly elaborate pre-wedding photos, as young couples spend time and cash lining up glamorous photo shoots to display on their big day.

But for those who can’t afford to travel overseas or to Chinese tourist hotspots in search of suitable backdrops, companies such as the Love Story in Rome studio bring a range of backgrounds, costumes, accessories and themes together.

All are within one Beijing complex.

“It’s really tiring to shoot outside, moving from one place to another place. This wedding shoot center is indoors and it provides everything you want,” bride Zhao Tianyou, 25, who had been shooting since 8 am that morning, said.

Rows of couples pose for photographs inside the sprawling complex in Beijing, with settings ranging from tropical gardens to autumnal fields, waterfalls to starlit skies.

A budding bride gets ready for her photo-shoot. Photo: AFP / Fred Dufour

In one carefully stage-managed shot, a bride in a white dress floats half-submerged in water, drinking a glass of wine.

“Chinese wedding photography has become more customized,” Zhao Rongchang, the general manager, said.

“Chinese people used to love to go on trips for shooting their wedding photos … But now they prefer to shoot indoors and prefer a more precise photography style.”

Posing for a picture before the big wedding day. Photo: AFP / Fred Dufour

The value of the wedding industry in China has been booming, with research group ASKCI predicting that by the end of 2019 it will hit 2.27 trillion yuan (US$320 billion).

Zhao pointed out that between 50 and 60 couples come to his center every day on a quest for the perfect snaps.

The enormous building is full of aisles of clothing and accessories in every color, from traditional red Chinese wedding outfits to modern Western-style white gowns and suits.

An army of helpers take photographs and manage sets, adjust clothing and add accessories with couples changing outfits multiple times throughout the day.

“I love all the styles they’ve designed for me,” a bride who gave her surnamed as Wu, said.

“It’s a bit tiring, but I’m very happy, the 26-year-old said.“


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