Giving new meaning to the term "classmate," 15 young couples from a single university class of 43 students held a joint wedding ceremony in Chongqing, southwest China, on Sunday.
The couples all got together during a four-year undergraduate course in nearby Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province. Their trip to Chongqing was one of the pre-graduation blowouts that many Chinese classes take.
In China, wedding ceremonies are generally held separately from the formal act of tying the knot, and eight of the couples were already married.
Liu Chao (pseudonym), the key planner of the ceremony and one of the bridegrooms, told the Chengdu Evening News that the event was intended to strengthen their classmate relationships.
Liu prepared fake diamond rings, rented wedding outfits and hired a team to decorate the venue, in a Chongqing scenic spot.
The joint wedding was also a cost-saving initiative for the young, cash-strapped lovers. Many of their friends and strangers chipped in, and the scenic spot even offered the venue for free. The bash cost just over 600 yuan (87 US dollars) per person, according to Liu.
Chinese on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, were divided over the event. Some sent their best wishes to the couples while some others questioned whether they were taking marriage seriously.
"From statistics, we can see only 10 percent of college couples get married, so this is quite a rare case. I bless them, but it should also be treated rationally as some naive students may follow them to marry at a young age," @pengshangqiangyuzhengquanwulixue said.
It is certainly unusual for love to blossom like this among such a small group. Many Chinese students leave education single – and often stay that way. There were nearly 350 million unmarried men and women in China at the end of 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Understanding the huge population of singles, the Chinese Communist Youth League announced in April that it would start organizing its own matchmaking and social events and lobby the judiciary to regulate the wider matchmaking industry.