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I’m secretly starting to wonder if my Dad didn’t have anything to do with my landing in Hangzhou instead of (as I had put down on my application) Beijing. If he wanted to choose one place where his youngest child would be constantly reminded of her single status*, he could hardly have chosen better.

It’s a city that comes with a package deal, and not one that anti-romantics will like: you want a bit of greenery, you WILL witness a wedding photo shoot, full stop. If you don’t like it – well then, my friend, stay at home and watch “Dexter” or another sociopathic show.

Wedding photos are all the rage. Doesn’t matter if you’re actually getting married tomorrow, or in six months, or in a year. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have your gown either – you can borrow it from the studio! Oh, and depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you might also be able to choose other costumes, ranging from the prom-night glamour, traditional Chinese gowns, all the way to Maoist uniforms. Then a hair-do, some make up, a studio photo shoot – and after that they whisk you off to an outdoor location.

And there: anything goes. Honestly, on a good day in a park you might see up to ten couples with a retinue of photographers and stylists, sometimes banding up together to make it more efficient.

If a park feels too cliché, a wooded bit next to a pavement will suffice…

Even in winter the brides happily risk pneumonia and serious goosebumps to get good photos. The pictures done, they immediately jump back into their puffy jackets. Shoes are usually invisible, so as often as not a more sensible kind of footwear will be preferred – very practical, if you have to walk on soft grass for a few hours (funny that the same logic doesn’t apply to hiking: it’s not at all uncommon to see girls climbing a hill in stilettos or wedges. Oh no, sorry, I forget – in this case the shoes will be seen by people, therefore they must be pretty…).

Some couples will even risk life and limb to get that perfect romantic shot. It’s not at all rare. For example this waterfall here – there was a queue to it.

The combination of bright yellow, white and pink seems to be en vogue this season. At least the groom here is wearing a suit, not a pair of suspenders and a German-style hat with a feather (yes, I’ve seen that too). Really, people. THIS is how you want your grandchildren to remember you?**

So, to sum up: if you’re single and don’t fancy a constant exposure to wistful-slash-accusing comments of the “what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you-why-aren’t-you-married-yet” variety, do NOT bring your parents here!

*And trust me, he would do it. We’re talking about a man who, in reply to an e-mail containing a picture of me taken after a mountain hike, writes: ‘Well, yeah, great to see you having fun… but don’t you think you’re a bit too mature to keep wearing those jeans all the time? Men like to see a bit of leg now and then.’ …Thanks, Daddy, love you too.

**Unless it’s meant with a grain of salt, in which case thumbs up for the sense of humour, guys.***

***But I’m rather afraid it’s not…

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