Bian Ji is a poor young scholar who wants to travel to the capital for the imperial examination. He raises money for the trip by selling paintings and calligraphic works. Zhou Tong is an ugly and vulgar local tyrant who wants to buy a paper fan painted by Bian’s to show his refinement. Bian encounters Liu Yueying, daughter of a landlord, in front of the Flower Goddess Temple. Accompanied by her maid, Chunlan, the young lady is impressed by Bian’s literary talent. A servant from the Liu household mistakes Zhou Tong forBian Ji and proposes to him on behalf of Yueying’s family. Chunlan discovers the mistake, but Zhouthreatens to burn the Liu’s house down if the family refuses the marriage. Chunlan visits Bian that night to plan a way out of the situation. Following the maid’s advice, Bian cross-dresses and sneaks into Yueying’s house to pour out his heart to her.
During Yueying and Bian’s meeting in the garden, the bridal sedan chair sent by Zhou arrives. Zhou’s men mistakenly seize Bian and Chunlan. Yueying’s brother, Jialin, tries to break into the bridal chamber to rescue Chunlan, but he accidentally takes Zhou Tong’s sister instead. Bian escapes amid the confusion.
A year later, having scored top marks at the imperial examination, Bian visits the Liu house as an honourable guest. Astounded to recognize that Bian is the person who disguises himself as the bride in his wedding, Zhou begs for mercy. Bian marries Yueying and expresses heartfelt gratitude for Chunlan’s help.