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story.lead_photo.caption Bride Chen Yaxuan walks down the aisle with her father during an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

BEIJING -- Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the covid pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected.

Chen Yaxuan and Dou Di exchanged vows in front of more than 500 guests in an unmasked wedding on Dec. 12 -- a day called "double twelve" and considered auspicious timing.

Servers wore masks, but guests were not required to. They just had to show a green health code, showing they had only been in low-risk areas and not tested positive in the previous 14 days.

A year into the pandemic, most people feel the situation is under control if not back to normal. The National Health Commission reported just 27 new cases on Dec. 28, a dramatic decrease from China's peak.

The first half of 2020 was a nightmare for the multibillion-dollar wedding industry. Many couples were forced to postpone their nuptials after large gatherings and events were banned.

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It wasn't until late April that a turning point appeared.

Those who had to push back their weddings helped revitalize the industry when restrictions were lifted, keeping the shrinkage of market below 6% in 2020, according to Zhang Yi, CEO and chief analyst of iiMedia Research, an industry analysis firm in Guangzhou in southern China.

Ning Jingyu, the wedding planner for Chen and Dou, believes the future is bright. Her studio has organized 33 weddings in the second half of 2020, down 50% from the same period the previous year.

"The business is not as good as it was the same time last year, but I think it's on an uptrend, considering the amount of consultancy and clients' demand for weddings," she said.

On a recent morning, at least seven couples showed up for photo shoots near the Forbidden City, a historic area in Beijing popular for wedding photos, even in freezing temperatures.

They included Dong Yangfeng and Wang Sai, both 27 years old. The computer science professionals had to cancel their original wedding plans because of the pandemic.

Worried that the pandemic might return, they decided to hold their nuptials as soon as possible. Dong said though that what their wedding will look like depends on the frequently changing virus rules.

"If the national policies allow, we surely want to have a nice wedding," he said. "But if the policies don't allow or if there's a reemergence of the pandemic, we'll make it simple."

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Family and guests attend the wedding banquet for Chen Yaxuan and Dou Di in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Bride Chen Yaxuan and groom Dou Di greet guests during a wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Bride Chen Yaxuan and groom Dou Di walk down the stage during an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Bridesmaids gather during a wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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A child reacts as bride Chen Yaxuan and groom Dou Di exchange vows during an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Guests attend an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Characters to form the words "Forever" are seen at the venue being setup for a wedding in Beijing on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. One wedding planner reported 50% decrease in business over the previous year but is optimistic for the future as couples who pushed back their weddings are helping revitalize the industry as the pandemic fades and restrictions are lifted in China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Workers from a wedding planner company set up decorations a day before an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. The wedding planner reported 50% decrease in business over the previous year but is optimistic for the future as couples who pushed back their weddings are helping revitalize the industry as the pandemic fades and restrictions are lifted in China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Workers from a wedding planner company set up decorations a day before an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. The wedding planner reported 50% decrease in business over the previous year but is optimistic for the future as couples who pushed back their weddings are helping revitalize the industry as the pandemic fades and restrictions are lifted in China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Ning Jingyuan, a wedding planner, supervises the setup for an unmasked wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. The wedding planner reported 50% decrease in business over the previous year but is optimistic for the future as couples who pushed back their weddings are helping revitalize the industry as the pandemic fades and restrictions are lifted in China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Groom Dong Yangfeng and bride Wang Sai pose for photos near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Groom Dong Yangfeng and bride Wang Sai pose for photos near the Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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A couple has their wedding photos taken near the Forbidden City area in Beijing on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Couples have their wedding photos taken near the Forbidden City area in Beijing on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Groom Dong Yangfeng and bride Wang Sai pose for photos near the Forbidden City in Beijing Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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A couple has their wedding photos taken outside the Wangfujing church in Beijing on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Bride Chen Yaxuan walks by staff wearing masks during a wedding banquet in Beijing on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Lovebirds in China are embracing a sense of normalcy as the COVID pandemic appears to be under control in the country where it was first detected. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Caroline Chen contributed to this report.

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