Group wedding heats up freezing Harbin

Updated: 2012-01-07 08:13

By Guo Nei (China Daily)

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HARBIN - Eighteen grooms managed to stave off cold feet in this city even though the temperature dropped to minus 20 C on the day they were to get married.

They gathered with their brides to say "I do" in an outdoor wedding ceremony in the Sun Island Scenic Zone, a popular tourist destination in Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

At 10 am, the couples walked to the accompaniment of wedding music into a snow-covered square. The ceremony took place in front of a massive ice sculpture named "Snow Dance Style", a 26-meter-high, 24-meter-wide statue of a girl dancing with snow.

The organizers of the ceremony said it is the biggest snow sculpture in the world.

The group wedding was part of the 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which opened on Thursday and will last for three months. The event will give tourists the opportunity to take part in nearly 100 activities having to do with winter.

Among the most noticeable couples were an elderly husband and wife from Harbin. Throughout the entire ceremony, Yang Jun showed affection toward his partner of 35 years.

"I'm 61 years old and my wife is 58," Yang said. "When we heard about the group wedding, we signed up for this immediately. We want to recall the happiness of our wedding day."

Another couple, Aysulu Ochurdyapova, who is from Russia, and her groom, Abdoulrazak Boubesanda, from Niger, said they have a great attachment to Harbin. Boubesanda, 26, came to China in 2009 and began studying economics at Harbin Normal University in 2010. It was there that he met and fell in love with the Russian girl.

"It is perfect blessedness to find the right person in a foreign country for both of us," the couple said in a statement reported by Xinhua. "When our friends told us about the group wedding ceremony, we decided to let the pure ice and snow witness our love."

Similar sentiments came from Zhang Dawei, 27, a Harbin native, and his bride, Zhang Zhuxun, 29, who hails from Beijing.

"My wife was very excited when she learned about the group wedding," Zhang Dawei said. "So we applied to take part in the ceremony and it is really amazing."

The newlyweds also took part in a float parade that went past tourist attractions in the city.

"During the past 27 years, nearly 1,000 couples from around the world have traveled to Harbin to get married during the Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival," Ren Fumin, deputy director of Harbin Youth Palace, one of the sponsors. "This ceremony has been an important part of the festival."

To mark China's "tourism year of Russia" in 2012, the festival has been made to take on several Russian features. Russia, for its part, plans to be the host of the "tourism year of China" in 2013.

Statistics from the Russian embassy in China show that the number of Chinese tourists going to Russia had increased by 52 percent in the first nine months of 2011 and the number of Russian tourists coming to China had increased by 9 percent in the same period.