These days, many engaged couples usually choose their gowns and suits, and take a beautiful set of pre-wedding photos before solemnizing their marriage during their wedding ceremonies. In the past, however, not many couples had the privilege of having lavish weddings.
An elderly couple in Hunan Province, China, have been married since 1946, but it is only now, 68 years later, that they put on their wedding dress and tuxedo for the first time!
Heqin Zou is a 93-year-old retired soldier who has been through the warring years in China. He joined the army at the age of 17, and was involved in the Battle of Kunlun Pass. After the Japan-China warfare ceased, Zou returned home and was introduced to Cunhua Chen, whom he married in 1946. In the wake of the long years of war, they could only afford to have a very simple ceremony. They had no banquet (usually a must in Chinese traditions), no wedding ring, and of course, no wedding photos in memory of their matrimony.
Chen, who is now 86 years old, says that “life was hard, but he (Zou) was always optimistic, and he was very nice to me.” Although their lives were very much affected by the war, and Zou always had to work long hours to make a living, Chen always stood by him through thick and thin, and always looked forward to his return in the evening. Zou officially retired in 1982.
When a group of volunteers went around visiting retired soldiers, they met the old couple and were deeply moved by their life story, especially since it was rare to find retired soldiers and their spouses who were both able and healthy. After some planning and sourcing, they managed to find a wedding photography company that agreed to photograph the elderly couple free of charge.
On the day of the shoot, Chen was first to get dolled up, stepping into a white wedding gown for the first time in her life. Seeing his beloved wife in the beautiful dress, Zou couldn’t help but exclaimed “Good!” (in English!), causing everyone to break out in laughter in surprise. He then went on to say, “Looking at you now, I think we can live to be 150!”
When it was Zou’s turn to change into his suit, Chen kept looking over her shoulder and peering over to the changing room, waiting for Zou to appear through the door, even though the people around her kept trying to converse with her. When the groom emerged from the changing room, Chen immediately went over and held on to his hand. When the journalist teasingly asked them to kiss, Zou appeared to be shy, but it was Chen who took the initiative and planted a kiss on her husband’s cheek, telling him “I love you!” aloud.
Though both Zou and Chen had some difficulty walking, they walked hand in hand into the studio and fulfilled their lifelong dream of having their wedding photos taken. Even at their age, Zou told his wife after the shoot, “we’ll have to work harder from now on to keep our family united and take care of our children and grandchildren.”
In this age where divorce rates are constantly on the rise, it’s extremely heartwarming to see elderly couples showing us that love is not lost, and that getting married isn’t all about having lavish banquets and dreamlike ceremonies. We hope this loving couple will indeed live to 150 years old and continue to be the perfect role model for their descendants!