A Reflection of modern marital trends in China and a more practical lifestyle

By Fan Anqi (Global Times) 16:04, April 11, 2024

As China deepens the reform of modernizing outdated customs and resists extravagant practices, a new form of wedding has gained popularity among young couples in recent years.

The "minimalist weddings," small and simple wedding ceremonies, are not only a reflection of the more free-spirited and individualistic modern marriages, but also showcase a changing consumption concept of younger Chinese generations that are more rational and practical.

For traditional Chinese weddings, which are usually grand and customs-ridden, the preparation stage is already enough to leave the newlyweds exhausted - confirming the wedding date, booking hotels, finalizing the "four pillars" of the ceremony and arranging for wedding photoshoots, plus much more.

And on the big day, even getting a goodnight's sleep has become a luxury. The newlyweds need to get up very early for makeup and participate in various traditional wedding games and ceremonies.

One famous wedding game is the "door games" which set up various pranks for the groom to pick up the bride.

As a result, younger Chinese generations are beginning to "revolutionize" their weddings.

In a small courtyard in Beijing in June 2023, Lu, a post-90s girl, and her partner Fan held a small ceremony with a simple process with only friends in attendance. "We slept until we woke up naturally without rushing through the process. We spent plenty of time capturing happy moments with our closest friends. At the afterparty, everyone waved glow sticks, sang songs, danced, and played games…"

"This is truly a wedding of our own," Lu told the Global Times.

A recent survey conducted by the China Youth Daily Social Survey Center on a total of 1,251 young people showed that 78.4 percent of the respondents support holding minimalist weddings.

Some 64.2 percent of the respondents believe that the popularity of such weddings reflects the pursuit of individuality and freedom by today's young people, and 63.4 percent think that the new form of wedding can effectively eliminate outdated customs.

Vivi, a senior wedding planner based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that the rise of minimalist weddings began with the marriage boom of the post-90s generation, and has become particularly popular in recent years.

"More post-90s couples are opting for customized modern weddings, such as hosting evening banquets with party elements, generally on a smaller scale.

These weddings emphasize sharing happiness with the closest loved ones, reducing the need to socialize at traditional large weddings. This trend is especially common in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai," Vivi said.

One objective reason for this phenomenon is that, those born after the 1990s are the only child in the family, and they tend to have fewer relatives.

Additionally, young people nowadays face significant work pressure, leaving them with limited time to prepare for a wedding, Vivi explained. "But more importantly, young people's sense of individuality is increasing. They are more willing to actively participate in the planning and decoration of their weddings rather than leaving it to their parents. This way they can incorporate their own ideas into weddings to make them more unique and distinctive," she said.

A young couple based in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, who has been planning their wedding for the past few weeks, told the Global Times that they had only spent about 50,000 yuan ($6,914) preparing the ceremony, while if they had gone with traditional wedding procedures, the expense would be triple, or even more.

Experts pointed out that many families in some regions compare with others, and tend to show off or make a big fuss when organizing weddings and other celebrations. As a result, many families usually spend a lot of money, not only causing financial stress on the family but also serious extravagance and waste.

Also gone with the overly-elaborate weddings are negative rituals such as wedding disturbances. In some rural areas, incidents of newlyweds being sexually harassed or physically harmed during wedding disturbances have been frequently reported, and more people are calling for the cancellation of such ill practices.

The trend also reflected a changing consumption concept in China.

Young generations believe that there is no need to spend a huge amount of money, just to show off.

More importantly, minimalist weddings also help promote the transformation of some stale marriage concepts, such as exorbitant "bride prices."

Giving a "bride price" as a betrothal gift has a long history in China as a goodwill gesture between newlyweds and their two families.

However, the "bride price" has skyrocketed from a token amount to extremely high levels, particularly in poorer areas of China, leading to family disputes or even criminal cases.

To address this problem, China unveiled its No. 1 central document last year vowing to launch a special campaign against excessive "bride prices" as part of a nationwide effort to strengthen the construction of public cultural-ethical standards in the country's rural areas.

The document encouraged local governments to formulate norms for changing outdated customs in light of local conditions, and strengthen the role of village rules and conventions in countering bad behavior.

In response, many cities and counties across the country have ramped up efforts to address this issue.

A county in East China's Jiangxi Province, for example, has offered incentives such as pre-option for children's enrollment, health check-up services and shopping discounts for new couples who adhere to the "low or zero betrothal prices" proposal.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Zhong Wenxing)


Related Stories