Young couples seek “sense of ceremony” with retro wedding notices

Rather than fork out huge sums of money on extravagant engagement parties, some young Chinese couples are instead reviving the 1930s tradition of announcing their upcoming marriage in local newspapers.

The trend, which started quietly on social media earlier this summer, has captured the imaginations of young Chinese up and down the country for its strong “sense of ceremony” – a buzzword in China’s dating scene that defends the psychological significance of romantic acts often seen as superficial or showy. 

Photos of the newspaper announcements have been widely shared on Xiaohongshu, where the hashtag “newspaper wedding announcement” has garnered over 400,000 views. The top post, which has amassed an impressive 31,000 likes, shows a simple black-and-white wedding announcement published in Sichuan Science and Technology News under the caption “how to make your wedding day stand out from the crowd”.

Buzz surrounding the trend has also been percolating on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, with the hashtag “young people’s retro romance” hitting the hot topic list at almost 2 million views on the day of Qixi Festival (“Chinese Valentine’s Day” on August 22). State media has praised the phenomenon, with one Henan-based outlet calling it a “sign of [young people’s] trust and respect for print media”.

Local governments across China are also tapping into the fever for “sense of ceremony” in a bid to drive up marriage rates, which this year slumped to their lowest since 1980. According to the Civil Affairs Bureau, newlyweds can don red hanfu (Han dynasty clothing, an already popular trend among younger people) and read wedding vows from bamboo slips as part of a “unique Chinese-style certification ceremony” experience. The topic has been read over 80 million times on Weibo and was the second most searched topic on the platform during Qixi Festival (August 22).


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