Lavish Weddings Catching On Among China’s “Post-80s Generation”

Five-Star Hotels, Resorts Offering “Dream Wedding” Packages For Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars

Weddings are getting ever more lavish among the wealthy in China

Weddings are getting ever more lavish among the wealthy in China

Though the vast majority of weddings in China remain traditional affairs, held banquet style with family and friends, or consist of simply registering at the marriage registration office for a nominal fee of around US$1, for China’s “post-80s” generation — those born and raised in the period following China’s economic reforms (arguably China’s first-ever “me generation”) — lavish, over-the-top weddings are gaining popularity.

As always, along with this increasing popularity has come an increase in the number of hotels, resorts, and entrepreneurs hoping to get a piece of this lucrative, if still nascent, industry.

This week, People’s Daily looked at the growing number of couples in China that want their wedding day to be less traditional and more about, as one young woman says, “fulfilling a dream and showing off.” From the article:

In Shanghai, around 130,000 couples registered for marriage in 2009 and the figure is expected to rise to 150,000 couples this year, says He Lina, the secretary-general of Shanghai Wedding Association.

These newlyweds are showing off their spending power.

A survey by China Investment Research Consultant shows average expenditure on a wedding was 30,000-40,000 yuan ($4,400-5,900) in 2009 compared with 20,000 yuan in 2005.

At the Ritz-Carlton Sanya there is professional help at hand for every couple.

“Our trained ‘romanceologist’ always has surprises in store for the customers – no matter whether it’s proposing underwater with a ring inside a seashell or modifying our oceanfront chapel into a Catholic church, or Buddhist temple, for wedding,” says Michel Goget, general manager of the hotel.

As the article goes on to note, these “fantasy” weddings, photos of which can be found on dozens of Chinese websites and forums — and which often incur the wrath of Chinese netizens (or the government) — are certainly not for everyone. Not only because of the prohibitive price tags, but also because of their perceived wastefulness. In tandem with the rising number of lavish weddings has been a rise in the number of so-called “naked weddings.”

The so-called bare marriage or “naked marriage” refers to holding one’s wedding without ceremony, a photo shoot, honeymoon and sometimes, even no wedding ring, house and car. The cost of the cheapest bare marriage is just 9 yuan and the fee goes to the marriage registration office of the department of civil affairs.

For Zhang and his wife, the process of getting married simplified to a dinner with friends and family in an ordinary restaurant, which cost him hundreds of yuan.

The monthly salaries of the couple, at the beginning of last year when they got married, were more than 20,000 yuan.

“Bare marriage is worth encouraging, because the basic idea behind an economical wedding involves no waste of resources,” says Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociology professor at People’s University of China.

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