Historic hotel in China holds mass ceremony for medics delaying weddings

PHOTO: Handout

For 27-year-old Wu Xianbing, a delayed wedding is well worth the wait - especially as his bride Chen Mei decided to postpone their own feast to save the lives of others.

Chen, a nurse from Renji Hospital, affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, signed up for the emergency medical team to aid Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus epidemic broke out.

That meant a delay of their wedding ceremony scheduled for Spring Festival, and a three-month separation for the love birds.

"We know it's hard but it's just the right thing to do," said Chen, who completed a 14-day quarantine and tested negative upon her return to Shanghai in middle April.

Like Chen and Wu, nine other couples, all including brides from Renji Hospital, chose to put off their own celebrations for the greater good. As such, the hospital organised a mass wedding on May 1 to commemorate their love and selfless contributions during this special time.

A snapshot of the joint wedding ceremony. PHOTO: Handout

Held at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, the collective ceremony, decorated with ribbons and bouquets, was attended only by close family and friends as social distancing is still advised.

"Almost three months ago, the brides put on a white nurse uniform instead of white bridal veils. Now that they are back safe and sound, it's imperative that we host a ceremony for them," said Xia Qiang, Party chief of Renji Hospital.

"I hope they will learn to respect, tolerate, understand and support each other, after they go through this special experience at the start of their marriage."

Gao Yang, 29, said he has promised to do all the domestic work in the future as the Wuhan trip gave him a precious sneak peak into the job intensity for his wife Zhang Lin.

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"She was too busy to respond on WeChat (a popular messaging app in China) during her time in Wuhan. So I sent her a virtual red packet via WeChat every day," said Gao. "As long as she clicked 'accept', I knew she was back in her dorm and managed to have some rest."

"We are more than proud to offer a historic venue and dedicated services that bring memorable sparkles to the medical heroes' most significant moments in life," said Richard Saul, general manager of the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund. "We want to express our sincere gratitude to these true heroes that protect and save people's lives with selfless efforts."

Saul said a number of special offerings will be given to medical workers, including discounts on meals and drinks, as well as complimentary stays and perks at the hotel for their first anniversary, should the couple book a wedding ceremony at the hotel.

Tens of thousands of medical teams began returning to their homes in batches since middle March, as the epidemic situation markedly improved in Wuhan, the once hardest-hit city.

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