Netflix’s ‘The Ghost Bride’ is Based on Asia’s 3,000-Year-Old Ghost Wedding Tradition
The upcoming Netflix series “The Ghost Bride” shines a light on the old and creepy tradition of a living person marrying a ghost.
The series is an adaptation of the 2013 New York Times’ bestselling novel of the same name by Malaysian author Yangsze Choo.
Set in the 1890s, the book follows the story of Li Lan, played by Taiwanese actress Huang Peijia, who was asked to marry the recently deceased son of the wealthy Lim family, according to Says.
By accepting the offer, Li’s family is saved from debt, but she has to spend the rest of her life being haunted by her ghost husband, Tian Ching. He made the request to marry her after seeing her for the first time at a festival before his death.
Tian repeatedly haunts Li’s dreams in an attempt to woo her. He insists that she will be his bride even though she refuses him every time they meet.
Huang described her character as “a little unique” and further said that Li is “fascinated with this world and its infinite possibilities.”
In her Goodreads note, the author said she was inspired to write “The Ghost Bride” after reading several real stories about ghost marriages in their local newspaper.
“Growing up, I once read a local newspaper story about the occurrence of such a marriage,” Choo said. “This was so bizarre that I thought about it for a long time afterwards. Who decided to participate in such a ritual? And what did it mean to them; what sort of lives did they lead?”
“Later, I heard more stories about ghost marriage. Usually, the dead married the dead (one of my Singaporean friends told me that his uncle had been married to another ghost in a proper ceremony, with all the food, costumes, and trappings), but more rarely, the living married the dead,” Choo added.
“I’d been working on a different novel for eight years prior to writing The Ghost Bride (I’m a very slow writer), and one day, I was reminded of this strange practice of marrying dead people. I sat down and wrote the first chapter of this novel, very much as you see it right now.”
Ghost weddings are an old Chinese tradition in which one or both partners are deceased. However, other countries such as France and South Sudan also practice this tradition. The custom has been practiced for some 3,000 years, according to the BBC.
Alongside Huang Peijia, Wu Kang Ren and Chinese Canadian actor Ludi Lin will take up the main roles in the series.
“The Ghost Bride” will stream on Netflix on Jan. 23.