To be, or not to be, or how to be?

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2008-02-20 14:06


Newlywed couples walk on a bridge at the West Lake in Hangzhou, eastern China's Zhejiang province on Saturday, October 13, 2007. About 100 couples from across the country took part in the group wedding ceremony. [newsphoto]

When Xu Lin and her groom decided to marry, they got on their bikes and cycled around the hilly streets of the south China city of Chongqing.

Dressed in the traditional wedding dress and morning suit, the pair led a wedding procession of more than 200 people all on bicycles last year.

But the couple weren't just out for the fresh air and exercise -- they were at the forefront of a new trend that is bucking the standard Chinese conception of an elaborate and very expensive wedding.

The "bicycle wedding", in which couples accept the good wishes of passersby, is taking its place alongside group weddings and the burgeoning market in second-hand wedding clothes and paraphernalia as a way to avoid extravagant and prohibitively costly celebrations.

Driven by rising soaring food prices and the rising cost of living, young couples are searching for innovative -- and much cheaper -- ways to celebrate their commitment to each other.

"The uniqueness and economy of the bicycle wedding were the big attractions," says Xu Lin. "It was a memorable day and it didn't leave us out of pocket."

The couple's friends were also relieved to avoid the burden of giving the newlyweds traditional red envelopes filled with money, an obligation that grows heavier according to the level of dining and entertainment they receive at expensive hotels and restaurants.

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