Chinese traditions surrounding dating and marriage are shifting thanks to the growth of the country’s luxury sector. “With more Chinese living and studying overseas, we observe a new demand toward more western-style weddings,” said Patrick Behrens, The Peninsula Shanghai‘s executive assistant manager, food and beverage.
Cuisine is one aspect of Chinese weddings that is getting a Western overhaul. “Couples are trying to break away a bit from the traditions and inquire [about] a modern Chinese dinner, which is served plated rather than a traditional family-style dinner,” Behrens said.
Since red is a celebration color, red wine is replacing Chinese liquor and white wines at dinner. “Another recent trend is to have a band or other live entertainer to perform during the evening. Although nobody is dancing yet during the dinner,” he said.
Yellow gold and jade, the popular Chinese wedding jewelry materials, are being phased out in favor of platinum gold, white gold, silver, and diamonds. “They want white metal, mostly platinum, when they are choosing their engagement ring or their diamond ring and that is because [of] the influence of the West,” said Rebecca Ip, VP, Hong Kong & Macau at Tiffany & Co. While engaged couples will research exhaustively online to find just the right ring, the decision ultimately belongs to the bride and her family.
And if the wedding trends seem biased towards women, Mary Bergstrom, founder of the Bergstrom Group and author of “All Eyes East: Lessons from the Front Lines of China’s Youth Market,” assures men get plenty of attention. With the number of Chinese men greatly outnumbering Chinese women, Bergstrom says men “are really aspiring to marriage…giving them tools [through] marketing and product development will help them feel better and more competitive and more complete in themselves.”
More than 10 million couples marry in China each year, and the wedding industry, estimated at $80 billion, includes such areas as retail, fashion, jewelry, travel and tourism, financial planning, real estate, and household purchases.