City seeks to cut the cost of weddings

A PROPOSAL to bring down the cost of weddings in Tongxiang, a city in east China’s Zhejiang Province, has sparked a debate.

It called for newlyweds to restrict the cost of wedding meals to no more than 1,500 yuan (US$220) per table, which can usually accommodate 10 guests.

The proposal also sought to end long motorcades, expensive gifts, and large hongbao (gift money).

Expensive wedding ceremonies are still common in some parts of China, with many believing that the bigger the banquet, the happier the marriage.

Chen Liang, 26, had just such a wedding. He earns 4,000 yuan a month but his wedding cost the family over 470,000 yuan. Almost half the money was borrowed.

Chen’s story is fairly typical. The reason for spending tens of thousands of yuan on a wedding is sometimes surprisingly simple — to save face.

Chen Miaolin, chairman of New Century Tourism Group said his hotels tried to introduce a wedding meal consisting of six dishes and one soup per table, but customers insisted on double the number of dishes.

“About one-third of the food usually ends up wasted,” Chen said.

The Tongxiang proposal suggested that gift money from relatives and friends should not exceed 600 yuan and that the red paper cuts of the Chinese character xi, or happiness, should be pasted only in the couple’s own houses and yards.

The move met with mixed reactions online.

Cao Yongping wrote that the eradication of old, rigid ideas in wedding and funeral ceremonies needed the participation of everyone, while Chen Feng suggested holding ceremonies in village halls to save money.

However, others questioned the effectiveness of the proposal and said that some of the regulations were too detailed and rigid.

An official at the local ethic enhancement committee office said the proposal was aimed at relieving the heavy financial pressure caused by expensive wedding and funeral ceremonies.

“Such ceremonies were meant to maintain close relationship within a family, but have become a huge burden for relatives and friends and should be changed,” the official said.