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Survey shows shift in marriage ideas
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-11 00:42

From simply laying the bed rolls of a man and woman together to welcoming a bride home by hot air balloon, weddings in China have undergone great changes, a survey indicates.

As the Chinese society develops, people's ideas and attitudes about marriage are constantly changing in the world's most populous country, noted a survey conducted by Horizon & Horizonkey.

Three main changes were found among the 3,212 people surveyed from 10 cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in August, 2004.

First, the survey found more and more couples fall in love after already being acquainted rather than being introduced by others.

Second, wedding expenditures have increased rapidly in recent years.

The idea of wedding ceremonies has become much more diverse, expensive and distinct, the survey participants between the ages of 14 to 60 said..

Before the 1970s, 77.6 per cent of the couples met and married after being introduced by matchmakers or through arranged marriages by their parents.

The rate of couples meeting independently has gradually grown to 65.9 per cent in recent years.

Now, more than 90 per cent of single Chinese plan to find their future spouse on their own.

However, a new problem faces young people today. Many people are too busy working to meet potential mates independently.

"I am so busy, I hardly have any time to go out with other young people, which leaves me little choice to establish a relationship with a woman," said Zhang Yongtao, a 29-year-old man in Beijing.

Zhang, with a degree in traditional Chinese medicine, told China Daily he needs to ask others to introduce him to girls.

"Of course, nobody can force me to marry a girl I do not like these days," Zhang said.

The cost of a marriage in the year 2000 is 46 times that in the 1970s.

Before the 1970s, nearly 70 per cent of newlyweds spent less than 1,000 yuan (US$120) on their marriage.

By the year 2000, more than 60 per cent of marrying couples spent more than 30,000 yuan (US$3,614) on their nuptials.

About 40 per cent of today's singles plan to invest more than 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) on their future marriages.

Inevitably a phenomenon exists in which many people unrealistically compare their wedding budget with others, which may greatly exceed their own economic condition.

The trend also affects rural areas, where parents usually borrow large amounts of money to finance the wedding of their sons.

However, the survey has yet to poll rural citizens.

As wedding expenditures rise, the contents of contemporary marriages have also become richer and more colourful.

Before the 1970s, expenditures focused primarily on two things, serving a large banquet and purchasing new furniture.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the cost of jewellry, gifts and photo sittings increased quickly.

Since 2000, tourism for honeymoons and the services of professional wedding companies have become an important expenditure for today's weddings, which respectively account for 22.2 per cent and 29.6 per cent of the total.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, many young people have been influenced by Western culture and prefer to hold weddings in churches.

Many couples hold their ceremonies in well-known places, such as the Great Wall, on important dates.

Presently, weddings have become more diverse than ever as many new ideas are being created, such as weddings aboard hot air balloons, underwater ceremonies and even skydiving.

Young people now show great interest in holding weddings with distinct and personal characteristics to celebrate the most important event of their lives.

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