Hotel accommodation, banquet the biggest cost of tying the knot
A model in a Chinese fashion designer's wedding dress attends to her makeup and makes final adjustments before taking to the catwalk at the Beijing Wedding Expo. Wang Jing / China Daily
BEIJING - Claire Pan said the older the man the more expensive a wedding tends to be.
The 30-year-old creative director of Mocha Wedding Planner, a Beijing-based wedding organizer, said anyone marrying a younger woman had to be prepared to demonstrate his love with his wallet.
"The more luxurious the wedding and the bigger the expenditure, the older the man tends to be. The greater the gap in age, the more the price goes up," she said with a smile.
According to figures provided by Mocha, the average cost of a wedding in China is now 200,000 yuan, although the company has handled weddings that have cost a staggering 10 million yuan.
The cost, according to Pan, is typically borne by the groom, unlike in the West, where the bride's parents usually pay the bill.
"It is traditional in China that the groom will pay for the wedding. If the groom is a bit young his parents tend to help," added Pan.
"The bride's parents will normally buy an electrical appliance for the couple's future home or even a car.
"After the marriage, particularly if the woman is a professional, the daily expenses of running a household will be shared."
Mocha, which employs 40 staff and was founded in 1999, is one of a burgeoning number of wedding planning companies now in China.
It charges around 30,000 yuan to organize a wedding for its clients.
"Our market is mainly professional couples, lawyers, doctors or people who work for foreign companies. They typically have busy jobs and don't have the time to do it themselves," she said.
"They essentially come to us because of the convenience. We offer advice and suggestions on the choice of hotel, the wedding dress and look after every small detail. They want our professionalism and it is just more convenient for them."
Although the average cost is 200,000 yuan, Pan said many couples exceed that figure and while 10 million yuan might be an extreme example, 1 million yuan is not uncommon.
The biggest cost items tend to be hotel accommodation and a banquet, which costs 75,000 yuan for a typical wedding where there are 15 tables.
Liquor and cigarettes for the guests come in at 20,000 yuan, as do the wedding rings for both the bride and the groom. The next biggest item is the bride's dress at 13,000 yuan.
"These would be average figures," added Pan. "Some couples like to spend more on particular items."
Pan said one of the biggest trends among young couples was to have a green or low carbon wedding.
"I would say around 20 percent of the couples who come to us now want a low carbon wedding," he said.
Claire Pan, 30-year-old creative director of Mocha Wedding Planner, a Beijing-based wedding organizer, says that one of the biggest trends among young Chinese couples is to have a green or low carbon wedding.
One way to achieve this is to dispense with the traditional wedding car and have the wedding centered at a particular hotel, where everyone stays for the duration of the event.
"The wedding car is not as popular as before. Most couples now actually choose to stay at a hotel before the wedding. As well as being more carbon-friendly, it gives everyone more time to sleep more and relax without having to worry about traveling and the Beijing traffic," she added.
Pan said other features of a low carbon wedding were a decision not to have any flowers and the use of fewer lights or less bright lighting at the event.
"They even go as far as to have a no-smoking environment. Smoking has been a traditional element of a Chinese wedding and cigarettes tend to be provided. The word smoke and happy event are pronounced the same way in Chinese and are seen as going together," she added.
Pan said couples who seek advice from Mocha have often done quite a lot of research online.
"They also read a lot of the wedding magazines so they are often aware of the latest trends and it gives them ideas about the sort of wedding they want," added Pan.
The wedding planner also said brides were keen to make a big statement with their dress.
"They often start looking at dresses a year before the event. What is in fashion at the moment is the princess-style dress with the big train. They like the fact it is dramatic," she added.
Pan got married herself to her fiance Sam Wang, 29, a graduate of Northeastern University in Shenyang of Northeast China's Liaoning province and, like her, a part-owner of the company, last year.
They held their wedding in the evening at a hotel in Fragrant Hills on the outskirts of Beijing.
"All the staff came to help and it just took one week to organize," she recalled.
Not everything went quite to plan, however.
"There was a power cut and we had no music so we had to improvise with people singing songs," she added.
"It was still a very special event and I liked it very much. It was special for us and it is that kind of experience we want to create for our clients."