Addie Chen, 28, definitely had a tight agenda over the past several months.
The corporate employee in Beijing and her fiancé were busy preparing for their wedding ceremony, scheduled for the end of May, 2009.
Compounding matters was the long ‘to do’ list: taking wedding photos at studios and scenic spots, reserving a hotel for the wedding banquet, booking wedding limos, selecting the wedding dress, and buying necessities for the marital celebration.
Chen and her fiancé, both non-Beijing natives, got to know each other and fell in love two years ago shortly after they secured working posts in the capital and settled down there. With their parents living in faraway provinces, they had to prepare everything themselves.
Although the wedding preparations were quite time-consuming, they decided not to leave it to the professionals to save money.
What’s more, they believed a wedding is one of the most important occasions in their life, so it would be more meaningful to arrange it by themselves.
Many wedding companies are thriving in various cities across China, with a recent survey showing that more than half of young couples in China are willing to have a wedding company arrange everything, despite the high cost.
Steep prices and a rising cost of living are a reality for most people nowadays, and young couples are no exception. Due to high property prices in Beijing, Chen and her fiancé chose to live in a rented flat. Chen said she’d like to work hard with her husband to save for the future. “I don’t mind. Everything will be better,” she chuckles. More young urbanites in China today think the same way Chen does.
It used to be common practice in China that the fiancé and his family would pay for the new couple’s house. Changes, however, happened over the past few decades as the property price skyrocketed in big Chinese cities and females became more financially capable.
Signs of such shifting ideals are to be found everywhere: when a British man posted a thread on a China Daily website forum recently saying he didn’t know why his Chinese girlfriend maintained he alone should pay for the house before their wedding, most netizens took his side, arguing the girl should help him get through their financial strain.
In China, another long held wedding tradition calls for the bride to prepare a dowry to be brought to the groom's family on the day of the wedding. The dowry can consist of things bought by the bride's family, including furniture, clothing, accessories and daily necessities. For urbanites like Chen, however, this tradition no longer applies. Depending on the financial situation of the bride’s family, popular dowries today include home appliances, furniture, or simply a “red envelope” of money.
Another break from tradition sees it not unusual for young Chinese couples to live together before their wedding. In fact they may already be husband and wife, as young Chinese couples usually apply for their marriage registration months before the wedding ceremony, sometimes even longer.
In between, the spouses-to-be are kept busy taking wedding photos, decorating their new flat, and making several other preparations. Chen and her husband are no exception. They were legally married on April 3, 2009 but had their wedding celebration over a month later.
Like most parts of the world, the wedding ceremony is a momentous occasion where the marriage is announced and family members and friends come from near and far to send their congratulations. A grand party, the wedding ceremony is also a place where people can enjoy Chinese gourmet cuisine and socialize with those they rarely get a chance to be with.
The size of the ceremony varies. “About 40 guests were invited to our wedding ceremony. Most of them were our friends and colleagues. Our relatives live too far to have attended the wedding in Beijing,” Chen said. “We booked a small hall in a hotel with an accommodation capacity of more than 50 diners as the wedding venue.”