From ocean chapels on a cliff in Bali, to sunset terraces overlooking the Aegean in Santorini, Chinese couples are exchanging vows and toasting to a happy life in increasingly exotic wedding locations. In recent years, the overseas wedding market in China has been growing at an astonishing rate of 200 percent, with nearly 60 percent of young Chinese planning to marry abroad, according to a Ctrip survey. Jing Daily caught up with Jon Santangelo who co-founded the tropical destination wedding boutique Chariot with his Chinese partner. Jon shared his insights on China’s destination wedding craze and the ceremony must-haves for Chinese millennials.
Why do Chinese millennials prefer overseas weddings?
Craving for more freedom and individuality, Chinese millennials want to escape the rigid formalities of a traditional wedding at home. An overseas wedding offers them a decent excuse to avoid inviting extraneous guests, enduring tedious routines and getting exhausted in countless toasts. They want to truly enjoy their special day and create intimate and unique memories.
The perceived higher status is another psychological factor. After all, an overseas wedding is still novel and perceived to be more expensive. Hence, exotic wedding photos will stand out on WeChat newsfeeds and win the envy of friends. Of course, Chinese celebrity weddings overseas are also part of what’s inspiring young couples to follow the trend. In March 2016, the wedding of Nicky Wu and Cecilia Liu drove the sales of Bali wedding packages up by 60 percent.
In recent years, the overseas wedding market has mushroomed in China. How do Chinese couples choose the right company for their wedding?
Response rate matters. Being able to respond promptly to inquiries from a website and WeChat will help build credibility among potential customers. They will also gauge the company’s capability of executing a beautiful wedding through its online presence such as website design and content quality. A good reputation via word of mouth plays a crucial role in decision-making as well.
Most customers approach us with a vague idea. We help them refine the details, from venue choice to theme decoration. We select local and international partners who are committed to delivering the best experience. In this process, customers grow their trust in our ability to “make their dreams come true”.
What makes a perfect overseas wedding for Chinese couples?
First of all, it is smooth without hassle. The location is safe and convenient. The flight is not too long with multiple layovers. The timing fits everyone’s schedule, so Chinese holidays are often the ideal time. Then, love story themes, fireworks over the sea and sand castles on the beach are “icing on the cake”. Try to know the couples as much as possible and turn their wedding fantasies into reality.
Chinese are particular about results. The picturesque and heartfelt moments captured by photos and videos are as important as the perfectly executed wedding. After the newlyweds return home, they need to show the photos and videos to relatives and friends. Whether their overseas wedding is luxurious and romantic in the eyes of the public relies on the quality of the photos and videos.
How much are Chinese consumers willing to spend on their dream overseas wedding?
Some Chinese clients don’t set a limit on their budget, but in general a starting package of roughly 40,000 RMB (US$5,780) would include the ceremony, photography, videography, reception, make-up and venue decoration. We can customize the package to include more experiential elements such as live music, fireworks, and fire dances.
Recently, a couple approached us with a 1 million RMB budget. They plan to rent the private island Amanpulo where Brad Pitt and Beyoncé vacationed. They want a private jet to transfer them directly from Manila to the island. They will even bring along their own wedding designer to tailor everything to their liking.
What are the popular wedding destinations for Chinese couples?
Wedding hotspots include Bali, Phuket, Maldives, Hawaii, Greece, and Italy. We are getting more inquiries about the Philippines, a previously underrated destination with world-class beaches. While Boracay is highly developed as a vibrant international destination, Bohol (with a refreshing Chinese name “mint island”) reserves its original charm and is spacious for a wedding. As Chinese consumers keep traveling and discovering new places, they will travel further to tie the knot. It is interesting to see which wedding destinations will emerge in the near future.
What trends do you observe in your Chinese clients’ overseas weddings?
Both demand and supply for overseas weddings are on the rise. Two to ten persons is becoming a popular group size. More couples combine their wedding and honeymoon in one trip. Some avant-garde couples even take proposals abroad.
Interestingly, tourism authorities have joined in on the marketing efforts. In February 2017, the Tourism Authority of Thailand invited nine lucky couples from nine places (mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, UK, France, Czech Republic, Australia, US and Brazil) to experience “Amazing Romance in Thailand”, which started from a romantic cruise down the Chao Phraya river.