Flights, camera, action: Chinese couples in pursuit of perfect photos

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Chinese couples pursue the perfect wedding photos
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Chinese couples pursue the perfect wedding photos
Xu Jiaqian poses in a pool as she has a picture taken for her wedding photo series taken at the Qianyishi Underwater Photography Studio in Beijing, China, August 19, 2017. August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Bride Jiachun Lin and groom Da Song of China walk through Westminster, with the London Eye in the background, as they prepare to pose for a pre-wedding photograph in London, Britain, September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez S
Employees edit photographs at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Clothes are displayed for customers to chose from at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Cao Ri (C) and Xu Jiaqian have their wedding picture taken in a pool at the Qianyishi Underwater Photography Studio in Beijing, China, August 19, 2017. August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Customers have their hair and make-up done before having photographs taken at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Customers wait for their turn to be photographed at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A customer poses for photographs at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Xu Jiaqian stands in a pool before she has a picture taken for her wedding photo series taken at the Qianyishi Underwater Photography Studio in Beijing, China, August 19, 2017. August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Couples wait for their turn to be photographed at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A couple pose for photographs at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
A customer is dressed and made up before having photographs taken at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj SEARCH "CHINA WEDDINGS" FOR THIS STORY. 
Customers wait for their turn to be photographed at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Chen Xueling poses for pictures at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. "It's worth it so that we can have these beautiful memories for the future," Chen said. "During the wedding itself, we'll put these photos on a screen." REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Xu Jiaqian poses underwater with a violin for a wedding photograph at the Qianyishi Underwater Photography Studio in Beijing, China, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
A member of staff adjusts clothes which have been prepared for customers at the Golden Ladies wedding photography studio in Beijing, May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
Bride Jiachun Lin of China poses for a pre-wedding photograph on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 
Bride Jiachun Lin and groom Da Song of China pose for a pre-wedding photograph on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, September 2, 2017. "I went to university in Newcastle, so England has always been very important to me, I want to show my family and friends what it means to me," said Song. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 
Bride Jiachun Lin and groom Da Song of China pose for a pre-wedding photograph on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, September 2, 2017. "I went to university in Newcastle, so England has always been very important to me, I want to show my family and friends what it means to me," said Song. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 
Bride Jiachun Lin of China poses for a pre-wedding photograph on Westminster Bridge in London, Britain, September 2, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 
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BEIJING/LONDON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Under a rare blue summer sky on London's Westminster Bridge, Jiachun Lin poses in a flowing white lace gown and wind-tossed veil with her fiance Da Song.

For Chinese couples, wedding photos are not simply about having a photographer show up on the big day.

They can be elaborate affairs involving costumes, make-up artists, camera assistants, and trips overseas, sometimes even underwater, and take up as much as a quarter of the wedding budget.

"You can go to a studio to have pre-wedding pictures taken and you can pretend to be anywhere, they have so many backdrops," said Song, 28, who will be tying the knot with his 24-year-old bride in China's northeastern city of Harbin.

Of course, it's better if you can actually go there, said Song, whose photoshoot with UK Wedding set him back 1,000 pounds ($1,303). UK Wedding is one of several London-based companies catering exclusively to clients from China.

"I went to university in Newcastle, so England has always been very important to me. I want to show my family and friends what it means to me," Song said.

Click here for a photo essay: http://reut.rs/2eKbHMO

Living in a globally connected world and given rising incomes, young Chinese are increasingly looking to impress with lavish weddings that mix traditional elements and Western trends, complete with a walk down the aisle, bridesmaids, ushers and even a hired wedding planner.

Revenue for China's wedding services industry was estimated to have reached $24.6 billion in 2016, data provider IBISWorld said in a report this year. That covered car rentals, restaurant decorations, photography and videography, among others.

The list of popular photoshoot destinations stretches from Indonesia's resort island of Bali to London, Paris and picturesque blue-and-white Santorini in Greece.

"Some people just want to photo famous landmarks in London like Big Ben and the London Eye," said UK Wedding founder Jeff Lu, adding that many couples now seek more authentic experiences.

"They might choose a really English-style small town, such as in the Cotswolds near Oxford," he added.

For those who cannot travel, vast hangar-like Chinese studios bring the world to them, offering the chance to pose in front of a fake Greek village, a Chinese temple or the bedroom of French king Louis XIV - all in a single appointment.

Golden Ladies, one of Beijing's 24x7 wedding photo studios, fills up with as many as 75 couples on a busy day.

At a recent shoot, Chen Xueling, dressed in a shimmering blue dress and surrounded by opulence befitting a princess, gazed into the eyes of fiance Wang Xinfeng.

The couple had to wait for three months for a slot.

"It's worth it so that we can have these beautiful memories for the future," Chen said. "During the wedding itself, we'll put these photos on a screen." ($1=0.7673 pounds)

(Reporting by Natalie Thomas and Dylan Martinez; Writing by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Clarence Fernandez)

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