China has called for the end of lavish and extravagant wedding ceremonies as the government ramps up its campaign against gaudy displays of wealth. The ministry of civil affairs said, weddings should “integrate core socialist values and Chinese traditional culture” and shun anything extravagant. Officials stressed at a conference on wedding reform over the weekend that it was “necessary” to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought,” the Chinese president’s political ideology, into wedding and marriage planning.
The ministry will ask local authorities to come up with “wedding etiquette” rules, following the example of one Chinese county that already limits guests to 200 and permits no gift worth more than 60,000 yuan explicitly forbidding houses and cars. Weddings have long offered an opportunity for the Chinese to show off their wealth in a culture where “saving face” is hugely important. The more lavish the wedding, the more expensive the gifts that must be given. The ministry’s criticisms of this culture coincided with the long-delayed release of Crazy Rich Asians, a romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast in which one couple splurge 40 million dollars on their nuptials.
The latest crackdown partly aims to reduce “bride prices,” which have been on the rise in China after four decades of the “one child policy” led to a shortage of women. Last year, Dengzhou, a city in Henan province, capped the cost for a bride at 30,000 yuan. These “reverse dowries” typically include the cost of an expensive wedding and a cash payment to the bride and her family. Prices have risen significantly in rural areas where the gender imbalance is more acute than in cities.
Authorities are also concerned that the tradition of playing pranks on the bride and groom originally thought to ward off evil spirits is out of hand. One groom was hit by a car last week as he tried to escape a pre-wedding hazing that saw him tied up and beaten.