China’s 1.5-trillion yuan wedding industry has been built on centuries-old customs, but today affluent young Chinese couples are shifting away from traditional ceremonies in favour of quality, customisation and social media resonance.
For the generation of young people who have grown up with an eye to the outside world, destination weddings are becoming particularly attractive, with Thailand serving as one popular spot to tie the knot.
In contrast to weddings held in palatial hotel ballrooms attended by up to a thousand guests (many of whom the couple do not know), many millennials are saying “I do” in picturesque places around theworld, including Bali, Greece and the Maldives.
In recent years, the value of the overseas wedding market in China has tripled with nearly 60 per cent of young Chinese couples planning to marry overseas.
There has also been a noticeable increase in wedding budgets, with young couples taking advantage of loans and instalment payments to hire wedding vendors that haven’t been available in the Chinese market before.
However, a wedding outside of China doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller bill.
Thailand has long been a top-ranked wedding and honeymoon destination, and foreign weddings can bring in between Bt5 million and 20 million. The Destination Wedding Planners Congress, held in Bangkok last year, named Thailand as the No 1 wedding destination in Asia.
China has become Thailand’s largest and fastest-growing tourism market, particularly since a more convenient visa-on-arrival policy was introduced.
Thailand’s status as a top wedding destination was further strengthened by the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s “Thailand Wedding Destiny” campaign last year. Aimed at showcasing Thailand’s massive potential as a world-class wedding destination, the campaign invited nine couples from nine countries around the world, including China, to get married in Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi or Sukhothai.
Of course, one of the key benefits of a Thai destination wedding is the country’s natural beauty, supported by local groups building picture-perfect resorts specifically to cater for weddings and honeymoons. With the prestige that these exotic weddings hold in China, it is no surprise that they have lasting impact on young couples’ WeChat newsfeeds.
Even for these couples with spectacular WeChat-worthy overseas weddings, tradition still plays a role. After the international ceremony, many couples will host large banquets back in China, “encouraged” by their parents. This is an expensive compromise, but one that keeps everyone happy!