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Weddings gone wild
Latest Updated by 2007-03-21 10:43:07

A Chinese wedding may conjure up images of a convoy of flower-covered luxury cars to pick up the bride from her home and a feast complete with the cake-cutting, champagne and endless rounds of toasts to all the invited guests.

It is usually a happy and lively occasion. But many young people see such weddings as too stereotyped and out of date.

"I attended two weddings recently, one in Shanghai and the other in Beijing. They were done in exactly the same way," said Si Tingting, 25, a media worker in Beijing.

"Each wedding should be unique reflecting the betrotheds' love stories and personalities. I'd like to have my wedding in a church, to represent the marriage's solemnity," she said.

A Chinese marriage licence costs only 9 yuan (1.15 U.S. dollars), however the wedding ceremony afterwards can cost a small fortune. The ceremony is traditionally very important because it is a public recognition of the union of two people.

Si is one of tens of millions of young people who want to tie the knot in a different way. Many choose to celebrate in churches, bars and in parks. Some go for a fairy tale bash, others go for exchanging rings underwater or high in the sky in hot-air balloons.

Guo Xiaoguang, 26, and Zhai Qun, 25, were married last December at the Wangfujing Catholic Eastern Church which was first established in 1655.

The couple are both graduating from Renmin University of China this summer. "Unexpectedly, I cried when the clergyman asked me to say something to my husband," Zhai said. "Standing in such a solemn place and thinking about the five years we had spent together on campus, I could not hold back the tears and took a long pause before speaking.

"Most of my girl friends also cried."

That marriage is solemn business, is what a traditional wedding feast fails to reflect, she said.

To meet changing needs, many wedding consultants are starting to offer new-style wedding services. "Nowadays, young people who come to my company all have their own ideas and are eager to try something unique for their weddings," said Shu Fang, head of the Beijng Fuchao Wedding Consultants Ltd Co.

A young couple dress in 2,200-year-old Han Dynasty costumes at their wedding last December in Hangzhou of East China's Zhejiang Province.(Photo: China Daily)

"The church's formal service gave me a very strong sense of responsibility for our marriage," Guo said. Zhai Qun (left) and Guo Xiaoguang are blessed by the priest following their marriage last December at the Wangfujing Catholic Eastern Church in Beijing.Courtesy of Zhai Qun and Guo Xiaoguang(Photo: China Daily)

Extreme sports lover Liu Ning tries to send Xu Man a bouquet after descending from the fourth floor of a hotel to the second on their wedding in Wuhan of Hubei Province on January 8.(Photo: China Daily)

"We must take into account their needs as also their financial situation to come up with a special wedding plan."

Among the several hundred weddings that Shu's company planned last year, more than 80 percent charted a different course.

Recently, a wedding in Tianjin caught the public eye.

With the help of spectacular sound and light effects, the hall for the wedding in a hotel was decorated as a fairyland.

To give the bride "a big surprise", the groom did not tell her what their wedding would be like. "My bride is a fairy-tale lover, who is very cute and sweet," said the groom who declined to reveal his name.

"I hoped our unique wedding could give her a terrific Cinderella experience," he said.

Only when the bride was led into the "dreamland" and seated in a crystal carriage did she realize that she was the main character in a real-life fairy tale.

She could not hold her tears when the groom, escorted by 12 "angels", approached her, knelt down and helped her put on a pair of "crystal shoes".

Their wedding is a sweet memory they will cherish forever, said the couple.

However, such fancy weddings come with a substantial price tag.

"Most of the cost comes from renting the venue place such as a park, a bar, a villa or an underwater entertainment center," said Shu, boss of the wedding consulting company.

The average rent for a nice lawn in a park is 30,000 yuan (3,875 U.S. dollars), not including decoration, buffet and service, she said. The hot-air-balloon wedding is much more expensive, reaching 100,000 yuan (13,000 U.S. dollars). Last year, a young couple paid more than 60,000 yuan (7,800 U.S. dollars) mainly for the service of professionals for a hot-air balloon ride.

Many young people are attracted to a different wedding but experts suggest they should get a plan that suits their own pocket.

"It is natural for the young to try new ideas and put some adventure into their wedding ceremonies, but everything should be on the premise that the couple love each other, are serious about their relationship and, of course, able to afford the wedding," said Chen Liguo, general manager of a wedding consultants training center in Beijing.

The couple who wed in the church in Wangfujing said an impressive wedding did not have to cost a lot.

"The wedding service in the church was free and we only donated several thousand yuan for charity," Guo said. "Any sum of donation is acceptable in the church."

More commonly, couples in their 30s, who have settled down and have no worries about finances, favor more luxurious weddings, said Shu.

"Most of our customers in their 20s, however, go for some simple new ideas in a traditional ceremony at a low cost."

For example, at a candle-lit wedding feast, all the lights may be turned off and guests invited to light each candle on their tables. Then the newlyweds light the main candles to start the feast.

"The silence and sparkling lights make for a heart-warming and unforgettable ceremony," Shu said.

Some couples celebrated their weddings by releasing butterflies (symbol of enduring love), riding bicycles along with friends and breaking a piece of ice to get to the rings sealed inside.

All of these are examples of simple, special and inexpensive novelty choices.

Editor: Wing

By: Source:China View website
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