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Wedding Costs Rise in Shanghai
According to new statistics, the current average cost for a young couple's wedding in Shanghai is 150,000 yuan (US$18,000), excluding the cost of an apartment, almost doubles the wedding cost of 80,000 yuan (US$9,600) five years ago.

The statistics have been obtained from a citywide sample survey conducted among approximately 500 newlyweds in China's eastern metropolis.

This sum of money, which is usually comes from their own savings, and from their parents and loans from relatives, is generally used for doing interior home decoration, buying household appliances, jewelry and new clothes, as well as paying wedding feasts and honeymoon trips.

"The budget for our wedding is 850,000 yuan (US$102,400)," said the 33-year-old man Qu Li, who is going to be married in coming October this year.

Qu, an astute businessman operating in the clothing sector, has paid 400,000 yuan (US$48,200) for his bridal suite and home decoration, 50,000 yuan (US$6,000) for household appliances. An additional 50,000 yuan will be required for the lavish wedding feast, and the bride's dowry includes furnishings worth some 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) as well as a Passat-brand car worth 250,000 yuan (US$30,120).

In metropolis Shanghai, around 100,000 couples step onto the "red carpet" to get married each year, and an employee's average monthly income is usually 1,530 yuan (US$184), according to statistics available recently.

The relevant studies indicate that, although most bride and bridegrooms are ready to spend more than 80 percent of their total savings on their weddings, they still cannot afford that high costs.

For example, in Shanghai, an apartment with a total floor space of 80 square meters costs 200,000 (US$24,000) to 600,000 yuan (US$72,000). It is thus common for a young couple to share an apartment with their parents or to buy a new one with their parents' support. Couples generally receive more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) from relatives in wedding gifts.

As local residents standard of living keep improving, more and more young people are pursuing luxuries, brand-name products and higher-grade consumer goods. The traditional "three major essentials of marriage" of the late 1980s and early 1990s, namely, a color TV set, a refrigerator and a washing machine, have been replaced by the sophisticated "family cinema", the air conditioner and the computer.

Meanwhile, approximately 80 percent of local Shanghai young urbanites consider a sum of 30,000 to 50,000 yuan (US$3,600-6,000) acceptable for a wedding ceremony.

The cost of a honeymoon is an increasingly expensive part of the total wedding budget. Most newlyweds choose some domestic scenic resorts, although some prefer spending spend their honeymoon abroad with an expense from 5,000 yuan (US$600) to 100,000 yuan (US$12,000).

Sources indicate that posts with monthly salaries of between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan (US$360-600), especially for young people, represent about 40 percent of the Shanghai labor market as a whole.

Average per-capita annual income in Shanghai municipality for the year 2001 was 12,883 yuan (US$1,550). The figure is expected to climb to 13,748 yuan (US$1,660) this year.

An increasing number of Shanghai youths have come to regard their marriage as a great event in their lives. Whether the wedding is held in a grand and generous way or in a simple and humble manner, all depends on their actual economic conditions -- this is a view held unanimously by those interviewed during the survey. What is most important, they acknowledged, is to comply with ones' capacities and to keep expenditure within the limits of their income, so as to help create a sound foundation for family life in the future.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2002)

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