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A Show of Love

In the City of Light, even sham weddings are romantic

Author Hannah Stuart-Leach


PARIS – Sun Green, like pretty much every other person who comes to Paris, is looking for romance. The owner of an online fashion boutique in South Korea, Green is here with her fiancé Ryuji Maehara; it’s the last getaway they’ll have together before their spring wedding.

Like many lovers, they’ve crossed the Pont des Arts. They’ve taken in the view from Montmartre. And, of course, they’ve done the Eiffel Tower. But Green has discovered another, less conventional way to satisfy her romantic cravings. Almost every night this week, she has headed down to Place de la Concorde to watch one of the city’s newest, and oddest, rituals: the Chinese Weddings.

Every evening at around the same time, as the sun starts to dip behind the rooftops of the Champs-Élysées, Chinese women in great white gowns, bejeweled like princesses, can be seen here posing beside grooms in silk suits. Vows are exchanged beside one of the Maritime Navigation fountains; undying love is sworn beneath the Obelisk of Luxor.

These nightly ceremonies, however, are not what they seem. “They’re not really getting married, you see,” says Green, delighted. “It’s all for show.”

The weddings are, indeed, an elaborate, orchestrated sham. The outfits are rented by the day, the photographers by the hour, so that the happy couples might commemorate their time in the most romantic city on Earth. The photos are simply something to show the folks back home.

“It’s lovely, don’t you think?” Green says, watching the fake brides kiss their fake grooms, bouquets of cerise-and-rose colored blooms clutched to their chests. “Like a fairy tale.”

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