The cost of weddings spirals in China

Every year in China more than ten million couples tie the knot. Weddings are a multi-billion-dollar business and expenses for the big day can quickly spiral out of control.

Cecilia and Ye Min will get married in a church because Cecilia is a Christian. They were shocked when they did their sums and realised their wedding expenses would come to around $30,000 (£18,000).

How could a simple wedding cost so much?

Ten or 15 years ago, if you asked people what diamonds were for they would tell you they were used in power tools, but now diamonds have a inevitable connection with wedding and marriage. The engagement ring is just the beginning of the expenses. Photos, gowns and decorations all have to be budgeted for and it is the groom’s parents who usually pick up the largest part of the bill.

The wedding banquet is the biggest expense; Cecilia and Ye Min are inviting 200 guests who will sit at 20 tables and they have a budget of $12,000 (£7,400).

“It’s very hard to find the right restaurant. We both want the food to be really good, and for it to look fabulous. But it has to fit our budget,” Cecilia says.

Beyond the engagement ring a highlight for Cecilia and Ye Min will be their honeymoon in Mauritius. Ye Min is relieved the financial responsibility for the trip will not just be down to him. “Our honeymoon trip will cost about $5,000 (£3,000). But I won’t pay for all of it. Cecilia and I will share the expenses because we will be married by then!”

So is cash lavished on weddings money well spent?

Dr Feng Lui, the Chairman of the Financial Planning Standards Board of China, isn’t sure.

“‘Face’ has too much importance in China. Financially it’s stupid to spend all that money on one moment … you could put it towards buying a house, your retirement, even buying insurance,” he says.

Some young couples spend their entire annual salary on the day, but travelling abroad or simply showing some creativity can effectively keep costs down.

The wedding industry in China is worth over $80bn (£49bn) and with a growing middle class, this shows no sign of decreasing.

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