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To wed: For yourself or your parents?
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A couple has Jiao bei jiu (union of wine cups) during their wedding. It is one of the must-dos in a Chinese wedding. [Shanghai Daily]

You gotta do it, get married - it's a social imperative in China. But parents usually want it big and elaborate. Many young people these days want it simple. Can they reconcile? asks Nie Xin.

The year 2008 is lucky for Chinese weddings, because of the lucky number "8" and the Beijing Olympics - so couples are lining up to tie the knot.

But in this brand-new China, generational conflicts arise between traditionalist parents who foot the bill for a banquet bash and modern young people who want something simpler.

Newlywed Mimi Jiang doesn't think getting married is romantic, especially after she endured her own traditional Big Fat Chinese Wedding.

She has plenty of reason to think so, and plenty of company. While most people think weddings are moving and touching, a traditional Chinese wedding is far more than "romantic" - it is mostly a series of seemingly unending rituals. And that doesn't count the grueling run-up and months of preparation.

The big day begins with the bridegroom picking up the bride at her home and giving away hong bao (red envelopes of money) to her relatives. Then it's on to a huge banquet at a hotel or restaurant that usually takes more than three hours. Bride and bridegroom toast table by table, and the bride lights cigarettes for every man, even total strangers invited by their in-laws.

Both bride and bridegroom are obliged to drink and cannot turn down a toast. After the exhausting banquet, the last and biggest challenge comes when guests crowd into the bridal chamber to tease the newlyweds.

All are in the name of celebration.

To virtually all Chinese parents, a traditional wedding with a formal banquet as visibly grand as possible is not only an announcement that their children have grown up - but also a way to show dignity.

For most young couples, however, the whole process is boring and tiring - they would rather spend the money on something they want, say travel. Many want a unique wedding just for themselves, not for others.

Achieving that special personal wedding, one that doesn't set you back financially for many years, is like a mission impossible.

The generational conflict over a wedding - the (supposedly) once-in-a-life event - is very complicated indeed.

Struggles, resistance, compromise, capitulation - they're all part of the Chinese marriage scene today.

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