A 1910 Chinese Wedding

The current work-in-progress is set in Hong Kong with two timelines, one in 2015, the other in 1912. I’ve included a wedding in the historical timeline – not the actual event, but a photo of the Chinese bride and groom, which my protagonist discovers. And what would that have looked like? An important question when you’re writing historical fiction.

Fortunately, Google did not disappoint.

I found several photos – some with very traditional garb, others more western in style. Ultimately, I chose to create a composite based on two photos – taking the bride’s outfit from one and the groom’s from the other. Then making up the rest.

I like the way this bride’s dress seems to combine Asian and Western styles.

And I thought the groom’s formal attire in this photo would suit my concept for the male character in my story. Both photos came from Pinterest boards.

Here’s an early draft of the brief description included in the manuscript. No doubt it will change 🙂

Patricia looked at the couple standing in front of a folding screen on which a scene of birds and blossoms and distant hills had been painted. Her great-grandmother wore a white dress with a multi-tiered skirt that blended Western and Chinese styling, and a circlet of what looked like pearls in her hair. She sat stiffly upright in a chair next to Li Tao-Kai. Patricia thought he looked handsome in his long cutaway jacket and formal attire, one hand resting on the back of the chair, the other holding a top hat and white gloves.

Research – about an hour. Words = 95. Historical fiction takes a lot of time!

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

18 thoughts on “A 1910 Chinese Wedding”

  1. …and expanding the time it already takes is how easily you can go down a rabbit hole, reveling in all those fascinating details, right? China, especially contrasting those two periods, is a wonderful subject. Just the customs evident in these photos reveals so much of a world that had isolated itself, evolving a unique culture, like Australia evolving its own flora and fauna.

    1. Before living there, I had no idea of Chinese culture. The whole experience was fascinating. And writing a novel is a chance to relive that experience.

    2. Definitely a unique culture – we discovered that when living in Hong Kong and I’m discovering even more as I research the past when the British dominated much of society.

  2. Mary,
    Fascinating what stories we can construe from an old photograph.
    Three years in China—you should have material for two more novels!

    1. Interesting thought about two more novels! I’ve really enjoyed stirring up memories from our time there. I’ll have to think about your suggestion 🙂

  3. Will it be a mixed couple? My little one’s father is from Hong Kong. Would love to learn more about it beyond James Clavel novels…( father and I are not together)

      1. Thanks for the answer! Hope to have a chance to read it 🙂 I am also a big lover of historical fiction.

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