HANGZHOU • The three words came only after nearly seven decades, but when they were finally expressed, it was with a big bang.
An elderly couple in Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang, celebrated Valentine's Day in style on Sunday. Mr Qiao Dewei, 84, rented the rooms on an entire side of a hotel building and used lights from the rooms to spell out his love for his 84-year-old wife Liu Shixiu, according to Chinese media.
Mr Qiao, wearing a wedding suit, leaned forward to kiss his wife, who was sitting in a wheelchair. She was dressed in a beautiful white gown and holding a bouquet, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.
"I love you," Mr Qiao told his wife, against the backdrop of the brightly lit "I (heart) U" sign on the 218m-tall building, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.
The couple have been married for 67 years.
"We've gone through countless obstacles and difficulties, but we've stood by each other to this day. No matter how tough life got, we have never had the slightest thought of getting a divorce," Mr Qiao, a retired teacher, said.
Mr Qiao's grandson, who gave only his surname as Zhang, helped make plans for the romantic gesture.
"When granddad and grandma got married in their hometown in Chongqing, there was no marriage certificate issued during those times, neither did grandma get to wear a wedding gown.
All this while, they have never said 'I love you' to each other," Mr Zhang, a branding professional, told Qianjiang Evening News.
"My granddad's idea was very simple. He just wanted grandma to wear a wedding gown once in her life and to tell her he loves her," Mr Zhang added.
The couple moved into Mr Zhang's house in Xiaoshan, a district in Hangzhou in eastern China, more than three years ago.
The hotel had used 220 rooms for the light-up. The couple also had a hotel room decked out for the occasion. The report did not mention how much the gesture cost.
"It was a very touching scene," said hotel employee Zhang Yang.