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China orders a halt to crazy rich weddings in a crackdown on displays of wealth

A Chinese couple have their pre-wedding photos taken on a street in Beijing last year. Photo: Roman Pilipey

China has called for the end of lavish wedding ceremonies as the government ramps up its campaign against gaudy displays of wealth.

Weddings, the ministry of civil affairs has said, should "integrate core socialist values and Chinese traditional culture" and shun anything extravagant.

Officials stressed at a conference on wedding reform over the weekend that it was "necessary" to incorporate "Xi Jinping Thought", the Chinese president's political ideology, into wedding and marriage planning.

The ministry will ask local authorities to come up with "wedding etiquette" rules, following the example of one Chinese county that already limits guests to 200 and permits no gift worth more than 60,000 yuan ($11,850) - explicitly forbidding houses and cars.

Weddings have long offered an opportunity for the Chinese to show off their wealth - in a culture where "saving face" is hugely important. The more lavish the wedding, the more expensive the gifts that must be given.

The ministry's criticisms of this culture coincided with the long-delayed release of Crazy Rich Asians, a romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast in which one couple splurge $US40 million ($54 million) on their nuptials.

So extravagant is the film's sumptuous wedding scene that some speculated it might never get past the censors of the Communist Party. Chinese critics took aim at its materialism.

"It looks like a film about Asians, but the spirit of it is American," one wrote on Douban, China's version of RottenTomatoes.com.

The film roped in $US1.2 million at the box office in China over its opening weekend, far less than the roughly $US25 million it grossed upon its August premiere in the US.

Chinese cinemas slashed the number of screenings per day from 32,000 on Friday to 18,700 on Saturday, reported Variety.

Such a disappointing reception will please the Communist Party, which began its campaign against extravagant ceremonies by seeking to restrict lavish funerals where families hire professional mourners to flaunt their status.

The latest crackdown partly aims to reduce "bride prices", which have been on the rise in China after four decades of the "one child policy" led to a shortage of women.

Last year, Dengzhou, a city in Henan province, capped the cost for a bride at 30,000 yuan.

These "reverse dowries" typically include the cost of an expensive wedding and a cash payment to the bride and her family.

Prices have risen significantly in rural areas where the gender imbalance is more acute than in cities.

Authorities are also concerned that the tradition of playing pranks on the bride and groom - originally thought to ward off evil spirits - is out of hand.

One groom was hit by a car last week as he tried to escape a pre-wedding hazing that saw him tied up and beaten.


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