The average cost of a wedding in Shanghai city this year soared to 160,000 yuan (US$19,277), up 30 percent from last year, according to the Shanghai Wedding Trade Association.
The association surveyed 10,000 new couples who held their weddings in the past six months. Their wedding costs mainly covered clothes, jewelry, wedding banquet and honeymoon.
Cai Min, a wedding planner with the association, said blue collars and white collars, who accounted for 75 percent of all the new couples in the city, spent on average 8,000 yuan to 12,000 yuan on wedding pictures, 10,000 yuan on accessories, 45,000 yuan or more on the banquet, and between 15,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan on honeymoon travel.
For those with deep pockets, who require a more luxurious wedding, the expenses can be two to three times higher.
"For example, an average banquet table could cost about 3,000 yuan. But you could spend at least 6,000 yuan for one table at a five-star hotel," he said.
In China, the couple first goes to the civil affairs bureau to register their marriage. Although they are legally a couple after this, their marriage is not complete until they hold a wedding ceremony, which is deemed much more important by most Chinese.
The couple invites friends and relatives to the banquet, where they exchange vows of everlasting love and receive blessings.
The final matrimonial step is the honeymoon.
Cai said only three years ago, the price of an average wedding was about 50,000 yuan.
He attributed the soaring costs to the flourishing local wedding market in recent years and rising living standards of people.
Cao Ruhua, general manager of Shanghai Jinma Wedding Service, revealed that in 1986 less than 30 percent couples were willing to pay professionals to help plan their wedding.
But now, more than 90 percent of them turn to such agencies, he said.
Zhu Wenli, a would-be bride, said she will not spend so much money on her wedding.
"To hold a wedding is not to pursue luxury. An expensive ceremony does not mean anything," she said. "It is love, mutual trust and tolerance that ensure a happy marriage."
(Eastday July 21, 2005)