by Tang Lu, Zhu Ruiqing
MALE, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- While the 2-km China-Maldives Friendship Bridge inaugurated on Thursday gave the friendship between the two countries a "concrete form," the five weddings held on the bridge on Friday added to it an additional dimension.
Under the blue sky and white clouds, the friendship bridge looked majestic and colorful with Chinese and Maldivian flags fluttering in the light breeze, as tender music gave the atmosphere a hint of romance.
Indeed, romance was in the offing. The newly-inaugurated bridge was picked as the wedding venue for five couples, who tied the knot in full scale wedding ceremonies.
The shy but smiling couples walked slowly across the bridge to accept the blessings of friends and family as scores of cell phone cameras clicked and videographers took shots from various angles.
The ceremonies were held in different parts on the bridge with each wedding party allotted an exclusive place complete with all facilities including a dining area to have the wedding feast.
Ceremonies over, the couple and guests were served a sumptuous meal on tables laid out on the bridge.
One of the grooms told Xinhua that he was very "honored" to be selected to be wed on the "grand China-Maldives Friendship Bridge."
"Marriage is a major event in life. The bridge will bring a new life to Maldivians. I hope the bridge will bring us good luck," he said.
According to local media reports, when the Maldivian Ministry of Housing and Construction released news about the "Bridge Wedding" in early August, it received overwhelming responses from Maldivian society.
It is said that more than 250 couples had applied for registration, from which the ministry selected five couples.
Interestingly, it is reported that all couples were required to be unmarried earlier.
One of the couples appeared to have sensed the logic in the insistence on having only first timers going through the ceremony on the bridge.
"The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge is the first bridge in the history of the Maldives. This is the first time the Maldives has held a wedding on the bridge. We are the first to marry. So choosing to hold a wedding on the bridge is very meaningful for us," the groom said.
Connecting capital Male and neighboring Hulhule island where the Maldives' main international airport is located, the bridge makes it possible for locals and tourists to transfer between the two islands within five minutes.