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The luxury wedding market in China


General wedding market

Almost 10 Million couples marry in China every year, creating an estimated annual market value of 382 Billion RMB. The scale and expenditure on a wedding can vary dramatically, for example in Hangzhou in 2012, it is reported that there were 78,000 new couples married, on average each couple spent 100,000 RMB on their wedding. But at the extreme, there were 20 weddings where over 500,000 RMB was spent in the first half of 2012, and handful, where the cost exceeded 1 Million RMB.

The tradition and meaning of a Chinese wedding varies a lot from that in the west. The general impression of a Chinese wedding is of being busy, ceremonious and festive. It’s not just a celebration of tying the knot, but also an occasion for the two sets of parents to network with their friends. The legal process of the marriage registration in China is completed three to six months before the wedding celebration itself, as there will be a lead-time for wedding planning and venue booking. Only after every legal process has been completed will the couple start to plan for the wedding, including booking a wedding planning company, a venue and preparing a wedding dress and jewellery.

The luxury wedding market

A traditional Chinese wedding consists of four major processes, although variations occur by location across the country. The first step is for the groom fetches the bride from her home to their new home, accompanied by the best men and groom’s friends. During this process, the motorcade is a very important way to show off during a luxury wedding. Chongqing Morning News reported that ZengGuo, the groom’s father and boss of Chongqing-based Fuxing Doors Industry Group, spent an alleged 5 Million RMB on the “most expensive wedding in Chongqing’s history”, with a wedding convoy of 20 supercars, together worth an estimated 60 Million RMB, featuring a range of luxury marques including Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari and Porsche.

After arriving at their new home in which the grooms family have prepared a traditional fertility offering, the couple will go to the wedding venue to receive the guests, the majority of whom are the friends even business partners of the two sets of parents, and who the couple do not know. The wedding venue and banquet are another key points to differentiate the normal and luxury wedding. The latter would select a five star hotel where there may be over 50 tables costing more than 10,000 RMB each for 10 guests. Shannxi coal magnate Xing Libin threw a 70 Million RMB wedding banquet, complete with a concert attended by many famous singers and celebrities for his daughter at the Sanya Ritz Carlton in Hainan.

The wedding dress

A wedding mixing Chinese and Western culture is the most popular format. During a wedding in China, brides need to prepare at least two formal dresses including a western white wedding dress and a gown, one for the ceremony and one for wedding banquet. The wedding studio plays a very important role in China, where it integrates the functions of wedding dress rental, sales and customization, as well as photography. The couple and their families are willing to choose a company which can provide a whole package of wedding services. Unlike brides in western countries who dream of designing and preparing the wedding themselves, brides in China lack the experience and knowledge to do this and will need help from a wedding planning company.

Using Shanghai as an example, most business models for wedding dress studio’s focus on rental, ready-to-wear sales and made to measure. The price for a mass market dress for rental ranges from 1000 to 10,000 RMB each for three days; the price for ready-to-wear ranges can be anywhere from 8,000 to 40,000 RMB. The made-to-measure wedding dresses have a two or three month lead time, those with diamond and crystal detailing cost between 20,000 and 40,000 RMB. Any without decoration but of a simple elegant style will cost in the region of 8,000 to 20,000 RMB.


Wedding jewellery

If 10 million couples marry each year and spend 8,000 RMB each on jewellery, then the annual consumption of wedding jewellery is about 80 Billion RMB. 65% couples in Greater China regard a diamond ring as token of love, and it is predicted that in 2015, jewellery sales in Mainland China will reach 300 Billion RMB, demonstrating how broad an opportunity the diamond market is.

According to the DTC (International Diamond trading Company) data, wedding ring spending accounted for over half of diamond consumption in China, the principal consumers being the 80’s generation. 80 percent of diamond consumption by Chinese consumers is from wedding needs. Typically, the wedding jewellery mainly consists of a diamond engagement ring and wedding rings for the couple; the price ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 RMB. Due to the different cultures and customs in different parts of the country, other jewellery items such as gold bracelets are a must for the bride as a gift from the groom’s parents.

Marketing to prospective couples

In China’s jewelry industry, various jewelry brands have begun to aggressively address the wedding jewellery market by exploring second and third tier cities to expand their market coverage and enhance the brand awareness. Middle range brands are particularly active, Hong Kong brand Chow Sang Sang said that it will open eight new direct stores in the first quarter of 2013, a further ten are in preparation and It plans to open a total of 40 in Mainland China this year. Another Hong Kong brand Chow Tai Fook has introduced a new suitor diamond ring range and released New Wedding TV commercials.

As early as July 2011, Cartier held a conference in Beijing to introduce its Bridal wedding series. Top jewellery brand Harry Winston launched its Wedding Belle series in 2012, and subsequently held a bridal jewellery testing and lecture of the new collection in Beijing’s 1949 The Hidden City. Tiffany, has heavily focused on the wedding market, running a nationwide themed activity in its stores called ‘Tiffany Wedding Date’ in April and May 2013. During the event, there were diamond experts present to explain how to choose a perfect diamond engagement ring, and appreciate the unique elegant design the brand offered.

According to a survey of consumers from the 80’s generation in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and other top ten cities, the personalised custom wedding ring appears to have become a new trend. Every couple can get involved in the design and production of their unique wedding ring as a means to remember and personalise their unique relationship.

The wedding banquet

As with a wedding breakfast in the west, the wedding banquet follows the more formal ceremony. A banquet will typically involve feeding 100 or more people, and there are cases of 500 or more people being invited to attend. During the event, the couple will visit each table and toast with all the guests, many of whom they may not know. Banquets for luxury weddings are often held in five star hotels because of their status and services they are able to offer.

As an example the following wedding packages and services available in some of the top luxury hotels in Shanghai, which are most popular for luxury weddings. The venues are available for 100 to 350 guests and charge of 10,888 to 15,888 RMB plus service fee for one table (for 10 guests). In return, the couple can get the following services.

  • Fully customised Chinese and western meal
  • Menu tasting for four to eight persons
  • One exquisite wedding cake
  • Homemade chocolates
  • Pre dinner drinks
  • Imported wine on the table
  • Five hours Rolls Royce transfer service
  • One night’s stay in a Luxury suite for the couple
  • Free one night’s stay in a Luxury room on the first year wedding anniversary
  • Spa experience
  • String quartet
  • VIP registration book
  • Table flowers
  • VIP shoot in the hotel

The honeymoon

Targeting the popular honeymoon market, there are some agencies that specialise in providing services that integrate the honeymoon trip and wedding photography. The couple do not take their own photographs, a local photographer does. Trips are concentrated around Southeast Asian islands, such as Jeju Island in South Korea which costs 8,999 RMB per person. Typically a large local wedding service company will provide the inclusive honeymoon and photography service overseas, and charge 40,000 to 50,000 RMB for a couple including the travel and accommodation fees for a 5 to 6 day holiday.

Luxury weddings without limits

The ultimate luxury wedding in China is considered by most to be based at a private luxury club. High-end wedding planning company Xiqingtang charges a minimum of 580,000 RMB to plan a wedding. The options they offer the new couple include; entrance by helicopter or hot air balloon, as well as a horse drawn carriage like that used by Princess Diana or the crystal pumpkin carriage as seen in fairy tale images. A motorcade made up with luxury cars such as the Rolls Royce extended edition, Bentley and Land rover, is just their basic level.

In recent years, the huge market size of wedding industry has been under the spotlight, especially the high-end wedding market. According to the marketing director of the Conrad Hotel in Sanya, more and more high-end weddings have been held in the luxury hotels in Sanya Yalong Bay on the island of Hainan since 2012, where 50 guests stay in the hotel for 3 days at an average cost of 400,000 to 1.2 Million RMB.


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