Li Jia and Wu Ping at the 100,000-yuan wedding at the
Crowne Plaza Century Park Shanghai. Provided to China Daily
The post-80s generation is getting married in droves and their weddings are becoming ever more costly and lavish affairs, Shi Yingying reports
Yvonne Yu's dream wedding at a top Shanghai hotel this month will cost an estimated 200,000 yuan ($30,000).
Like many modern-day couples that plan to marry soon, Yu has had big dreams about her wedding.
"The post-80s generation has more expectations than previous generations," says the 24 year old who works at a media company.
"I feel a wedding now is about fulfilling a dream and showing off, it is not just about a banquet."
Couples want their special day to be creative and eye-catching, not just traditional.
"Themed weddings are becoming popular," says Michelle Yang, the wedding director of a five-star hotel in Shanghai. "There is also greater flexibility now, as people get married whenever they feel like it. We don't really have 'peak seasons' anymore."
The majority of clients are the numerous post-80s generation and many of them are expected to get married before 2012, according to the China's Wedding Market Research and Investment Advisory Report 2008-2010.
In Shanghai, around 130,000 couples registered for marriage in 2009 and the figure is expected to rise to 150,000 couples this year, says He Lina, the secretary-general of Shanghai Wedding Association.
These newlyweds are showing off their spending power.
A survey by China Investment Research Consultant shows average expenditure on a wedding was 30,000-40,000 yuan ($4,400-5,900) in 2009 compared with 20,000 yuan in 2005.
The survey also found 88 percent of newlyweds had professional wedding photos, 49 percent hired a wedding planning company and 78 percent celebrated at a hotel.
The number of those who hold their weddings in hotels is higher in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai.
"Almost 90 percent of the weddings I served were held in hotels," says Lin Yile, who runs a wedding agency in Shanghai.
"Because of this (tendency), hotels are hiking the prices and applying all sorts of tricks (to attract clients)."
Even hotels that usually focus on Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) business, are trying to get a slice of the wedding cake.
"It's good news, because when MICE business checks out on Friday afternoon, the wedding planner comes and sets up backdrops for the ceremony during the weekend," says Conny Bartl, MICE director at the Longemont Hotel Shanghai.
Li Jia and Wu Ping held their 100,000-yuan wedding at the Crowne Plaza Century Park Shanghai and took their rings from swan sculptures - all for free, after winning the hotel competition.
"It was also the first online wedding reality show in China because we filmed their wedding over four episodes and broadcasted it on www.tudou.com," says hotel spokesperson Sharona Tao.
At Purple Jade Villas (PJV), the exclusive Beijing club, the attractions for holding a wedding are 22 hectares of grounds and a lake. Payment is made easier by offering installments, no interest or service charges. "We will work with Bank of China to realize more couples' fairy-tale weddings," says sales director Zhou Shuxian.
At the Ritz-Carlton Sanya there is professional help at hand for every couple.
"Our trained 'romanceologist' always has surprises in store for the customers - no matter whether it's proposing underwater with a ring inside a seashell or modifying our oceanfront chapel into a Catholic church, or Buddhist temple, for wedding," says Michel Goget, general manager of the hotel.
But not all of those in the wedding market want a full-service package and have their big day so stage-managed. After Yvonne Yu went to a number of top hotels she figured they had co-operative agreements with wedding agencies.
"Shangri-La has permanent agreements with two wedding agencies, one of them is too expensive for me and I don't trust the other," Yu says.
Tracey Yu, 25, who works in education and plans to marry next year at the Marriott Ningbo said hotels sell privilege, not just provide services.
"There are only a few really popular wedding hotels in each city and the waiting list can be rather long. Sometimes, you have to book a year-and-a-half in advance and 'get in by the back door'," Yu says.