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Wedding invitations become bills for young people


10:46, November 04, 2011

Receiving a wedding invitation has become like receiving a bill for young people in China, as they are expected to give cash to the newlyweds.

Having attended more than five weddings in October alone, Chen Dongfang, whose monthly salary is 2,800 yuan (442 U.S. dollars), spent over 3,000 yuan as cash gifts for his friends.

"I could barely survive with my salary. Cash wedding gifts for friends' weddings are burdensome," said Chen, who graduated last year and now works at an interior design company in Shandong's provincial capital of Jinan.

Giving gifts to newlyweds is standard etiquette in the East and the West, but before China's opening up and reform started in 1978, it was common to give living necessities, such as linens, thermos, and utensils, as wedding gifts.

Liu Senping, who is about to retire in Jinan, said that when he got married in 1983, he received several pairs of shoes, two sets of linens, a set of tableware, and some cash gifts of less than 10 yuan each.

As the Chinese economy picks up, sending cash as a wedding gift to allow newlyweds to choose how to use the funds has become a common practice.

However, the good intentions of cash wedding gifts are overshadowed by the increasing amount of cash expected. The trade-off between "face" and money hikes up the amount of cash sent, overtaxing the young.

"For young people who have recently entered the job market, chipping in at least 200 yuan for each wedding is indeed a burden," Liu said.

There is a way out, though, according to Chen.

"If the wedding invitation is sent from a mere acquaintance, I would make excuses to avoid attending, which could save me some money as less money is expected from the people who were invited but did not attend the wedding," he said.

"But, compared to hard cash, I would prefer to pick up a nice present that shows I care," Chen added.

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