Making a public marriage announcement — a practice that was prevalent among Chinese intellectuals in newspapers in the early part of the 20th century — has returned to fashion among young couples in China.
While WeChat Moments is good enough for many, others say a printed notice in a newspaper is more formal, especially considering that marriage is one of life's most important events.
Some see the printed announcements as a unique ritual that brings a sense of "retro romance" to their love.
A new bride surnamed Wang, 24, and bridegroom Liu, 27, published their marriage announcement in Tianjin Daily on June 7, the same day they got their marriage certificate.
They made an appointment on the mini-program of an intermediary agent and followed the announcement template with only a few words of basic information. It cost 750 yuan ($97), plus mailing costs for five newspapers, Wang said.
Liu, a programmer, acknowledged that many people celebrate their marriages on WeChat Moments, but he and his wife wanted something different. "It not only fulfilled the desire to express ourselves but also provided a timeless record on its pages. It is truly romantic," he said.
Wang shared her experience on lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu and soon received about 11,000 likes and 700 comments.
She said all their family members and friends agreed that print was romantic, and some were inspired to do the same. She collected more newspapers for their future children.
A growing number of young people are following suit. Related topics have received 420,000 views on Xiaohongshu, and 5 million on Sina Weibo as of early August.
Publishing marriage announcements was popular in China in the first half of the 20th century. At that time, the marriage registration system was not well-established, and publishing in newspapers became customary, especially for affluent people with progressive thinking.
After the proliferation of digital information channels, the market dwindled, but now the nostalgia is gaining popularity. It's an attempt by the younger generation to innovate in the culture of marriage and relationships.
Shi Yao, 28, and her 30-year-old husband, surnamed Xu, paid about 400 yuan to publish their marriage announcement in The Beijing News in mid-July. Xu said that when he was young, he always read the newspapers brought home by his father. He liked the social news and advertising supplements.
"Seeing printed media being gradually replaced by new media made me feel that something precious in my memory was being lost. I don't want them to disappear," he said, adding that publishing marriage announcements evokes a warm feeling toward newspapers while bringing a sense of vintage elegance.
The price for publishing a marriage announcement differs by number of words, space and printing house. It ranges from around 100 yuan to more than 10,000 yuan. Customers can either pay for the service online or by phone. Globally, many newspapers also provide sections to publish marriage announcements, along with births and deaths.
Meng Si, who works for an online platform associated with newspaper publishing services, told Xinhua News Agency recently that there has been a noticeable increase in inquiries and orders for marriage announcements. The customers are predominantly young people in their 20s, with some even making appointments one or two months in advance.
On the day Chen Xiaoyu, 28, and his wife received their marriage certificate, they couldn't wait to frame the printed page with their marriage announcement and display it prominently in their home.
Chen told Xinhua that this commitment in black and white feels like a pledge to spend their lives together as a couple.
"The newspaper will be preserved, and many years later, people can still read our love story when they look back at it," he said. He added that it inspires young people to dedicate themselves to nurturing their marriage with the same devotion as their elders.
Xiao Jinsong, president of the Hubei Psychological Consultant Association and chief physician of the Department of Neurology at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told Health Times that newlyweds can find a sense of satisfaction in print, and the sense of ceremony can often help people understand life better and face it with enthusiasm.
So it is understandable that publishing marriage announcements has become popular among young people, Xiao said.
Cui Yutong contributed to this story.