The government is concerned about rising ‘bride prices’ in particular – a goodwill gesture between the two families, when the groom’s family pays a dowry to their future relatives. Another issue is that couples invite celebrities and influential people to their big day to show off in front of guests.
To battle such practices China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs convened a special meeting in Jinan, Shandong province, last week, where officials from various parts of the country ruled that marriage etiquette needs to be reformed.
Instead of lavish parties, authorities want to encourage people to celebrate the event in a more traditional and thrifty way. Moreover, the weddings should “better reflect” the country’s values and goals, and implement the leader’s political ideology, known as the “Xi Jinping Thought.”
Marriages can be a great financial burden and sometimes the groom’s family can land themselves in serious debt. Prices reportedly start from 100,000 yuan (around $14,500), with some costing vastly more. Last year, an 18-year-old girl in China’s eastern province of Fujian received 2.88 million yuan ($400,000) as a gift for her engagement, according to CGTN.
However, initiatives targeting centuries-long traditions have already sparked a public backlash. An earlier move targeting traditional burials and promoting cremation as the only method of disposal of bodies enraged locals in Jiangxi province in July. People were even trying to stop the ordered destruction and seizure of coffins by climbing inside of them, but were forcefully pulled out.