Wedding costs in China have soared 46 times over the last 30 years, according to a report by Chinese newspaper Modern Express. The article has prompted heated discussions on the Internet. Some couples feel so helpless with the enormous wedding costs that many say they would rather remain single.
According to data from a Chinese survey company, nearly 70 percent of urban Chinese paid under 1,000 yuan (US$146.35) for their wedding before 1970; in the 1980s, the cost increased to over 3,000 yuan ($439.05) for about 55 percent of weddings; in the 1990s, the cost rose dramatically to over 10,000 yuan ($1,463.61) for 73 percent; after 2000, the cost has risen to over 30,000 yuan ($4,390.46) for 60 percent of couples. For 10 percent of the Chinese population, weddings can now run as much as 100,000 yuan ($14,634.34).
The Ministry of Commerce’s survey of 30 major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Dalian showed that the average wedding cost for 3.73 million newlyweds was 126,600 yuan ($18,527.74). This figure only covers the cost of wedding photography, jewelry, dresses, event planning, banquet, home decoration, honeymoon travel, home appliances and furniture, and not home or vehicles. Data also showed that the wedding combined with home purchase easily cost over one million yuan ($146,355.06) in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou. Even for cities along the ocean coast, this cost would be at least 400,000 yuan ($58,542.03).
Statistics show that the average wedding cost in Kunming City is 120,000 yuan ($17,563.34). Based on the area’s average monthly salary of 2,000 yuan ($292.72), this would require 5 years’ earnings without spending a penny. Though the wedding cost can be shared by the couple, this price only reflects the cost for dresses, banquet, jewelry, and home appliances. If one also considers additional purchases such as housing and vehicle, such luxuries are simply unattainable for the average Chinese couple even after working for 20 to 30 years without any other expenditures.
Surveys show that over 80 percent of young people in China today need financial support from their parents to various extents. Many couples have to ask their parents to cover the cost of their wedding. About 47.47 percent of Chinese newlyweds see their parents covering 20 to 60 percent of the cost, and 14 percent of couples have their parents cover 80 to 100 percent.
So what’s responsible for this rising marriage cost? “There is always competition for bigger and more lavish weddings,” said a supervisor at a wedding company. But as marriage costs continue to rise, social pressure might force some couples to opt for a simpler event for their big day.