Although China’s modern wedding industry is relatively young, in the past 2 years, the industry has grown by a third, blowing up into an $80 million industry. As more Chinese families have disposable incomes in a country where showing off is part of the social custom, sumptuous weddings have become a way to display wealth and status, particularly for single-child families, who typically have saved from a child’s birth for weddings. However, the majority of couples driving this wedding boom are children born in the 80s, whose parents didn’t have the opportunity, money, and experience of planning a wedding. Though there are programs, like the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts Macau who has a “wedding university,” a 2 hour intensive program to help couples plan their wedding, and a whole site devoted to planning weddings, there aren’t many and they can be costly.
As a result, most couples are turning online for research, particularly personal recommendations from their social networks. Social media is a way for them to see what their friends have done and get inspiration. Sina Weibo’s Weikan 微刊, with a Pinterest-esque layout, is one of many forums devoted to wedding planning. That’s why it’s crucial for anybody in the wedding industry- even if you’re not directly related to travel- to make sure you have a presence on Chinese social media. And as more Chinese couples now have enough purchasing power to travel, a growing trend is destination weddings.
Bali in Indonesia or Phuket in Thailand are among the most popular destinations for weddings, but Chinese couples are venturing out even further. In addition to the scenic beaches, wealthy Chinese couples are attracted to using a trip to the Caribbean as a link to a shopping tour in the US and having a meeting with their private banker and make smart investments. One wedding website from the Caribbean has even now a Chinese version.
In August, the Seychelles hosted a mass wedding for 19 young Chinese couples, which included a tailor-made welcoming ceremony courtesy of the Seychelles Tourism Board and the company that coordinated the itinerary for the couples’ Seychelles weddings and island honeymoons.
A related trend among wealthy Chinese couples is going abroad just for a wedding photoshoot. Seoul is a very popular destination for such shoots, with Chinese tourists happy to spend several thousand dollars on a wedding album with a South Korean touch because of the perceived higher quality photography and makeup service. According to South Korea’s tourism ministry, more than 2.5 million Chinese visitors- one quarter of their entire tourism market- spent an average of $2,150 per person in 2012, more than any other nationality. Companies like iWedding, the largest of the South Korean wedding planner, hosting Chinese tourists, has had over 50 couples every month for more than a year.
China Airlines recently announced the launch of a special Japanese wedding package promotion to Tokyo, allowing couples to combine their wedding and honeymoon itineraries, including flights, accommodation, floral arrangements, professional hair and makeup, wedding photography, and even a wedding assistant.
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