Love in the times of virus as weddings resume in Wuhan
Peng Jing stifles a laugh as she looks into the eyes of her tuxedo-clad fiancee, Yao Bin, who is in turn trying not to step on the long train of her white wedding dress.
“Smile!” shouts the photographer as he snaps away.
Weddings, birthdays and celebrations have been canceled around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic but in Wuhan, Hubei Province, where the virus first appeared, they are finally resuming as authorities relax a lockdown that separated families, friends and lovers for over two months.
Peng, a 24-year-old receptionist and airport worker Yao, 28, had been looking forward to getting married and carrying out the wedding tasks, including an elaborate photo shoot, when the epidemic abruptly put their plans on hold.
“We were supposed to register our marriage on February 20, 2020,” she said, referring to what was supposed to be one of the country’s most popular wedding dates thanks to the incidence of number “2” and its connotations with couplehood.
The city’s lockdown on January 23 put a halt to that, and prompted marriage registration bureaux across China to shut amid efforts to curb the virus. More than 50,000 people have been infected in Wuhan and 2,579 have died.
“I sent her home and the next day the lockdown happened,” Yao said, recalling how abrupt it was. “I was very unhappy.”
While Yao’s job meant that he was allowed to continue to leave home for work, the couple avoided seeing each other, only managing to talk, or sometimes argue, through games or messaging app WeChat.
“He kept wanting to send me things to eat and drink because the lockdown meant that we couldn’t go out to buy things, but I was scared, like what if he caught something while on the way? The situation was very serious then,” she said.
They only managed to meet at the end of March, when Peng’s office reopened. “I was overwhelmed with emotions,” he said of that meeting.
The couple registered their marriage last Saturday, days after the city’s marriage registration bureau reopened and are now making preparations to hold their traditional wedding feast in May.
It will be a simple one, however, as continued epidemic control efforts mean that big gatherings are still frowned upon and hotels are not taking bookings. Instead, they will hold it at Yao’s family home.