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Wedding ceremonies in China Vary
    2008-10-06 17:38:25     CRIENGLISH.com

You may have seen Chinese movies depicting weddings in which the bride wears a red veil and sits in a shaky sedan chair on the way to the home of her husband-to-be. So, how do couples in China hold their wedding ceremonies today? Do people still follow ancient customs? And what interesting changes to wedding ceremonies have occurred in China during the past thirty years?

Let's follow our reporter Hefei to find out the answers.

This is the wedding ceremony of 26-year-old Beijing resident Lv Zheng. Held during the National Day Holiday, he believes this event is perfect.

"Our ceremony consists of two partsone held indoors, rather traditional and Chinese, and the other on a lawn, which is western-style. We prepared a lot of stuff including a big reception and beautiful veils. We hired experienced cameramen. We designed the process ourselves and decorated the whole place."

What Lv Zheng has prepared for his wedding ceremony is commonly seen among new couples today in China. For his generation, it's hard to imagine how simple their parents' weddings were 30 years ago.

According to 52-year-old housewife Fan Junling, when she got married in 1983, brides no longer rode sedan chairs like they did decades ago. Rich couples would hold a wedding ceremony in a restaurant. But for average couples, like her and her husband, they only had several friends and relatives eat dinner together in her parents' house. That was her wedding ceremony.

"In my time, conditions were much tougher than now. Furniture was simple; a bed, a chair, a table, and a wardrobe. Richer families have dowries like a watch, a bike, a sewing machine, or a radio. Nobody raised hopes of owning a TV set at that time, not even a black-and-white one."



A couple in their wedding ceremony in 80s [Photo source: gzezxyh.com]

As Fan says, a watch, a bike, and a sewing machinethose were so-called "three necessities" for a wealthy family in the early 1980s. But three decades on, the "three necessities" for young couples have shifted to an apartment, a car, and a computer.

The 1990s was the key period when wedding customs converted from the simple to the luxurious. It became popular to shoot wedding photos, to have restaurant dinners, and to pick the bride up in hired or borrowed cars.

What if a couple wants an impressive wedding but doesn't want to, or know how to, plan such an event? Well, a rapidly growing business has emerged because of this opportunity. Professional wedding planners are now available to help take care of all your wedding preparations and thousands of these businesses have now spread throughout China.

Zhuang Qingfeng runs a wedding service workshop in east China's Shandong Province. According to him, when the business began three years ago, customers had no idea what they wanted their wedding to be like. But now they demand creative weddings especially tailored for them.

Zhuang Qingfeng explains:

"Customers post their own requirements. The ceremony must fit their personalities, educational backgrounds, and tastes. Individuality is more and more valued. They don't care whether the ritual costs a lot, but whether they feel it's special."

Some people like traditional Chinese weddings. Others prefer the western style. Various wedding ceremonies such as collective ones, underwater ones, or even overhead ones bring them brand-new experiences.

A underwater wedding ceremony held in 2008 [Photo source: henannews.com.cn]

The wedding planners not only help young couples realize their dream weddings, they also provide professional suggestions.
Zhuang Qingfeng gives an example:

"Once we suggested a couple hold an environment-friendly wedding. They made 300 cloth bags themselves, and gave them to guests and passers-by on the wedding day, asking everyone giving up plastic bags. That's cool."

However, some couples still prefer planning for their own wedding. They enjoy every moment discussing details of the ceremony.

Working in the U.S., Lv Zheng communicated with his wife in China through phone calls, emails and letters.

"A wedding is a personal issue. My wife and I both had great fun preparing for it together. We got a big surprise when we found each other thinking in the same way from time to time. The happiness we received was worth the time and energy we were spending."

Meanwhile, fancy weddings burden new couples with high costs and extravagances they often can't afford. A survey shows that the average cost of preparing a wedding in big cities like Beijing soared to 270 thousand yuan, or 40 thousand US dollars in 2007. That was enough to hold 100 ceremonies back in their parents' time.

Some of the post-80's generation realizes it's not necessary to spend so much. They choose simple ceremonies which only include close relatives, or just ignore the ceremony altogether and put their money towards a honeymoon.

24-year-old Li You is a post-graduate student studying in Peking University. She got married this summer, without holding any ceremony. Li You explains.

"We took a trip to Thailand for our honeymoon, because preparing a ceremony is such fuss and bother, and a waste of money. Wedding cars, an emcee, and the whole thingthey mean nothing to me. So we choose the trip which was relaxing and eye-opening."

With or without a ceremony, Chinese or western-style, fancy or simple, expensive or frugal new wedding trends in China will continue to come and go and be varied.

For Beyond Beijing, I'm Hefei.

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