When the white wedding gowns and black suits appeared at the Olympic Playground, when the moisture was mingled with the fragrance of wedding bouquet made of roses and hydrangea, when the air was full of laughter and joy, it was time to take the vow.
123 couples decided to kill two birds with one gemstone: celebrate the 123rd anniversary of Wuhan University while tying the knot. The group wedding was held on Oct 15th 2016 at Wuhan University to celebrate the institution’s founding anniversary.
123 couples walked down the steps of Sakura Castle
“Cherry blossoms in the autumn are like wishes for weddings.”
At 8:00am, 123 couples arrived one after another at Sakura Castle. To their surprise, cherry blossoms had covered the paths of the campus like a white and pink blanket in the autumn, which attracted visitors as well as lovebirds.
The brides were dressed befittingly in pink and the grooms wore fine suits and ties. “I got up at 6:00am to prepare myself for the big day today,” said Zhang Peilin, who graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication in 2013.
The love story of Zhang Peilin and her husband Zhang Xiaoxin started from campus activities. She used to be the hostess and he was the president of WHU’s Student Union, so naturally they had a lot of chances to work together, and this is how the story began. “I spent most of the precious moments in my life on this campus.” said Zhang Peilin before the wedding.
Zhang Peilin recalled that the application for the group wedding started on Weibo this July. The couple originally planned to get married on May 20th next year. However, they decided to plan the ceremony earlier to attend the first group wedding at their alma mater.
In the beginning, Peilin was worried that they might not be selected, “I thought about sending in a letter detailing how we fell in love on this campus to impress the board.” Xiaoxin, her fiancé, on the other hand, was quite confident. “With my handsome demeanor, a photo is more than enough to get us in.” Xiaoxin said in a tone of humor to comfort his fiancee.
Peilin then contacted the alumni union. It turned out that there were some 500 couples who filed their applications, 123 of whom were selected, corresponding to the 123rd anniversary of the university.
Surprisingly, the groom’s joke came true. They were even chosen to be the representatives of the newlyweds to make photo series. Traditionally in China, marriage is ritually recognized as the union of two families. Xiaoxin’s mother went all the way to Changsha to meet the parents of Peilin and they decided to have the wedding in October and have it back in college.
The brides threw their wedding bouquet at the end of the wedding
Just like Zhang Xiaoxin and Zhang Peilin, one or both partners of the 123 duos were enrolled by the university. Some started off as classmates, while others met their soul mate on the campus despite the fact that they didn’t attend the same academic institution.
At 8:30am, the grooms and brides were walking down the steps, hand in hand, of the Sakura Castle. They smiled and held heart-shaped balloons, just as they did half a decade ago.
“Live at the wedding”
Couples arrived at the playground around 9:30am. As one of the 123 couples, Zhang Bo and Yang Leilei, stuck the pink card on the wall after writing down “We wish our school a bright future. Love WHU.” Everyone shared the happy moment with the lovebirds as they exchanged hugs and kisses under the flower arch.
At ten sharp, the couples stood in line before they walked along the giant heart-shaped aisle formed by rose petals. The highlight came when they scattered the candies, packed in small bags with yellow roses, raising waves of cheering. The crowd was so thrilled that their hands were filled with colorful candies.
The wedding officially started at half past ten. After reading the original poem <When Luojia Gives us a Chance to Love> written by four students, the representatives of the newly-married couples, Wang Shunran and Chen Wenting, came onto the stage.
The bride then told the love story of their dramatic encounter. Dating back to their childhood, they met each other in a singing competition in Beijing. It was such a coincidence that they met again in 2007 in Wuhan University. “He promised me that he would never let go of me eight years ago by the bank of East Lake. Since then, we have been together for five years, nearly two thousand days and nights.”
The song <Passionate Embraces> was the gift to WHU and to each of the 123 couples. Singing is the witness of their love. During college life, they were in the choir and put on lots of performances together in some of the landmark buildings of WHU, where beautiful melodies can still be heard today.
As for those in the audience, they were deeply touched by the stories and tightly held onto the hands of their partners.
When the president delivered his speech and the couples took their vows, the ceremony climaxed. The sincere wishes given by the president, Li Xiaohong, impressed all in attendance, “123 is a very lucky number, which stands for the lifetime you two will walk through together, even after generations. WHU is your eternal home and you are always welcome to come back.”
“Loving each other until the end of the world”, the oath was the last part of the ceremony, and the exchange of wedding rings symbolized their love in Wuhan University.
The responsibility of love, marriage, and family
Amid cheers and blessings, the wedding came to an end. Every couple today would participate in charity events, donate trees and send loving cards to WHU, manifesting the support from graduates.
123 couples were standing at the steps in front of the administration building while throwing their wedding bouquet to people around them. Meanwhile, volunteers released the pink balloons to the sky, filling it with “pink memories”.
Nevertheless, it’s acknowledged that marriage means more than just “pink memories”. Zhang Xiaoxin and Zhang Peilin encountered a lot of clashes, especially after getting married. Peilin mentioned sometimes he was angry at her but soon calmed down. They were still immature in family life but would try to be considerate to each other. Additionally, they think it is worth trying to start a career entirely on their own and endeavoring to reach a common goal.
It was noticeable that a baby also showed up at the wedding scene, who turned out to be the child of Zhang Lili and Niu Yun, graduates of dentistry in 2010. They married last year and they especially came to the wedding because Lili, the wife, would love to visit the place where her husband spent his youth.
A pair of couple brought their baby boy
The birth of their baby brought about happiness, but at the same time, duty and responsibility.
It is a great pleasure to have someone special to accompany you along the journey of life, and these 123 couples are fortunate enough to find the right one. As the old couple Zhang Lina and Du Yumin put it, they must have found the reflection of themselves, after seeing the descendants.
They used to be common and ordinary, but after fighting together for years, they finally reached the ivory tower of life.
（Photo by Chen Ziyao, Edited by Zhang Ran, Edmund & Hu Sijia）