Date
18 December 2017
From the time a Chinese man meets his fiancee's family for the first time, he becomes poorer each step of the way. In the end, he could end spend 2 million yuan getting married. Photo: Baidu
From the time a Chinese man meets his fiancee's family for the first time, he becomes poorer each step of the way. In the end, he could end spend 2 million yuan getting married. Photo: Baidu

What’s a Chinese groom to do with the high cost of a wedding?

Single is costly. But married is crazy expensive.

You would need 2.08 million yuan (US$320,000) to get married in Shenzhen, according to mainland news website caijing.net.

That makes Shenzhen among the most expensive Chinese cities for prospective husbands, beating Beijing and Shanghai but not by much.

Hong Kong is not mentioned in the report but we suppose a seven-digit figure is the norm, although the final price tag depends on how high — or how low — you’re willing to go.

Moreover, although upfront fees are lower, after-sales and maintenance costs can be very high. 

They say it takes HK$4 million to raise a child, so you can just imagine how much it costs to marry.

How does the 2.08 million yuan break down?

Mortgage down payment makes up the bulk of the expense in Shenzhen, which has higher home prices than some parts of Hong Kong.

So we figure that accounts for at least 1 million yuan already.

The usual wedding banquet and honeymoon could easily top 500,000 yuan, not to mention the customary wedding gifts to the bride’s family.

In some provinces such as Anhui, a bachelor becomes 10,000 yuan poorer the moment he meets the bride’s family for the first time.

Throughout the process, he becomes poorer and poorer — 150,000 yuan and 250,000 yuan out of pocket for down payment on a car and a home, respectively, according to the report.

Also, it has become fashionable to ask the groom for the latest iPhone model on top of the “Perfect 10 package” which includes 10 boxes of cigarettes, wine, meat, fish and sugar, to name a few.

In the old days, marriage was simple.

In the 1950s, a few inches of flower-pattern clothing would do.

Even in this time of reform in the mainland, you need to send a car, a watch, a sewing machine and a radio over to the bride’s family but cash will save you all the trouble.

That begs the question: How does a Chinese man save enough money for a wedding?

The answer is he can’t; he has to spend the rest of his life working to cover his wedding costs. 

Let’s assume a Shenzhen man makes 60,000 yuan a year and has 300,000 yuan worth of assets. He still needs to work continuously for 29.7 years and save all his money before he can cover his wedding bills.

A young man can start saving from age 20 when he starts working. Hopefully, he can get married before 50.

That would be funny if it wasn’t too depressing.

Of course, the above calculation does not take into account cash and other gifts the groom might receive from family and friends.

I hear they’re much more generous than their Hong Kong cousins.

Also, parents are a key source of financial support for the groom, so many Chinese men are able to marry by 30.

Meanwhile, once settled, the man has to start saving for his own son’s wedding. Don’t forget he can have up to two sons under China’s looser child policy.

In some rural areas, the cheapest ticket to marriage starts at 600,000 yuan. 

Now perhaps you understand why naked marriage — marriage without the benefit of ceremony or a new home — is the new thing.

In big cities such as Beijing, it’s common for couples to live together for up to two years before marriage, which gives them time to save together for the big day.

That also explains why being single is a more viable proposition.

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BK/JP/RA

EJ Insight writer

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