China, battling low birth rates and high costs, encourages frugal weddings


Couples prepare to get their photo taken during a wedding photography shoot on a street, in Shanghai, China. - Reuters

HONG KONG/SHANGAI (Reuters): Young couples in China planning "simple" weddings, rather than traditional banquets with hundreds of guests, was one of the top hits online after an article urging more frugal nuptials was published by the government body in charge of women's rights.

The article by the All China Women's Federation, featured on Chinese search engine Baidu's "hot list" on Tuesday, said couples were exhausted by the expense and time required for big weddings.

Changes include shrugging off rituals such as renting luxury cars, fancy photographers and souvenirs for the guests, instead opting for a small-scale party for family and close friends.

One couple interviewed said they spent around 6,000 yuan (US$831) for their nuptials, significantly lower than traditional wedding banquets that can cost over 200,000 yuan (US$27,700).

The shift to a more simple style is important to develop good future customs, the article said.

"From a social perspective, extravagant celebrations of happy events are a bad habit... the rise of minimalist weddings meets the demand for frugal weddings and will help to develop a good custom."

The post comes as the number of new marriages in China jumped 12.4% in 2023, compared with a year earlier, reversing close to a decade of declines as many young couples tied the knot after delaying their nuptials due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Policymakers are grappling with how to reverse the fall in new births after China's population fell for a second consecutive year in 2023.

Marriage rates in China are closely tied to birth rates, giving some cheer to policymakers that a tick up in marriages could yield to more babies being born and soften the population decline in 2024.

China's Premier Li Qiang pledged in March the country would work towards "a birth-friendly society and promote long term, balanced population development" and reduce the cost of childbirth, parenting and education.

Many young couples have put off getting married and having children due to high costs. China is one of the world's most expensive places to bring up a child, relative to its GDP per capita, a prominent Chinese think tank said in February. ($1 = 7.2172 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong and Nicoco Chan in Shanghai; editing by Lincoln Feast.) - Reuters

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China , Govt , Battle , Low Births , Frugal Weddings

   

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