Why we'll see more wedding lunches than dinners

October 29, 2019 17:06
A file picture shows gold bangles being put on a bride's wrist during a wedding-related ceremony. Hong Kong’s social unrest is prompting some young people to rework their plans for weddings and related arrangements. Photo: Bloomberg

Attending a reception and dinner hosted by a newly-wed couple last weekend, I couldn't help but think about the impact the social unrest may have had on the marriage plans of many young locals.

Invited to the event at a five-star hotel, I found the food was superb. And the wine was even better. The bride sang a lovely song to the guests, and there were plenty of greetings and good wishes.

Still, the atmosphere was a little different compared to what one would have normally witnessed at such celebratory occasions in the past. 

It was apparent that a lot of things were weighing on people's minds, particularly the night-time street protests and the ensuing transport disruptions that have become common on weekends.  

I noticed that many guests waved goodbyes early as they were scrambling to get to an MTR station before the rail operator suspended its service at 10pm.

The hosts, on their part, showed understanding as they were well aware of the situation outside. Apart from praying that all the guests would reach home safely, I would assume that the newly-weds wouldn't have fretted too much about some invitees who failed to show up.

When the time came for us to leave, the couple was nice enough to arrange transport and have us dropped off at Kwun Tong. Unfortunately, however, it took me a while to get home from there because of a traffic gridlock at a highway tunnel.

Hong Kong's unprecedented crisis, which came in the wake of the extradition bill fiasco, has affected several industries and also thrown the plans of many young people off gear. 

As per a survey conducted by online platform ESDLife, over half of the respondents who had been aiming to wed in the next two years have said their plans have been affected by the social unrest.

Given the current situation, with the protesters and the administration locked in a bitter standoff, there is little hope that normalcy will return to the city anytime soon.

While some wedding plans are getting delayed, the couples that are opting to go ahead with the nuptials are tweaking their arrangements.

Some are cancelling the traditional lavish wedding banquets, while some are opting to move the events to weekdays, hoping to avoid the weekend street and transport chaos. 

More interestingly, event venues are reporting that many couples are opting for banquets during lunchtime, rather than have such celebrations in the night.

Apart from the protests-related worries, there are other reasons why lunch banquets are finding more takers.

Crucially, there is cost-saving, as lunchtime feasts tend to be easier on the budget than dinner banquets. According to the ESDLife survey, Hong Kong couples on average envisage spending about HK$370,000 on their wedding, half of which will go toward the banquet.

It is not a small sum of money, although one can usually recoup some amount from the cash gifts of guests.

That said, the gift money during lunch events tends to be far less than what a night banquet can reap. Hence, moving the banquet from dinner to lunch can cut both ways for the hosts.

Still, on balance I would reckon daytime events would be more beneficial for newly-weds.

Imagine if they are done with all the social engagements before 6 pm. The couple can then enjoy a quiet drink and meal by themselves before spending the night together for more meaningful activities.

Returning to the topic of banquet costs, I once went to a wedding lunch in Beijing where I was informed that the couple had actually done the registration 18 months ago.

It took them all that while just to save up enough for the banquet bill.

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EJ Insight writer