The price of getting married in China

A few days ago, C. told me this story that happened (is still happening ) to his colleague. Let’s call him Larry.

Larry is a young Chinese man who came back to China recently after studying in Australia. He is educated, but his family is not particularly rich. They are middle class.

Six months ago, Larry started dating this girl. As they are around 25, it is the perfect time to get married and have babies (no pressure here). So they started talking marriage. But, as it is often said, in China getting married is not something to be discussed by two people, but by two families. And, as marriageable ladies are way scarcer than marriageable gentlemen (because, you know, the one child policy and the traditional preference for boys), the bride’s side usually comes with a ton of requests that the groom’s side has to meet if they want to see their son happily married and their little grandchild running around.

So, enter the girl’s family.

This girl’s family is rich. Like, pretty rich. They do business and have several companies and factories. They are not going to give their daughter to the first that comes around (especially if he is not wealthy), so they wrote down a list of the things Larry has to provide for the marriage to take place, including the things he needed to buy/pay for in the wedding itself.

And I happen to have a copy of that list (informative journalism at its best). I translated it and gave the money amount also in euros and dollars, to help you get a clearer idea. Also, there are some items that not even C. is sure what they are, so if anyone knows please leave a comment!

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  1. A car valued at 900,000 RMB (128,500 EUR / 142,000 USD). It is not written in the list, but the car was supposed to be the latest Mercedes Benz.
  2. Food, cigarettes, alcohol and a big cake to be served during the wedding proposal (when the guy goes to visit the girl’s family and asks for her hand): 10,000 – 30,000 RMB (1,430 EUR / 1,575 USD – 4,285 EUR / 4,725 USD).
  3. Two diamond rings and a watch, total prize 150,000 RMB ( 21,400 EUR/ 23,600 USD).
  4. A gold bracelet: 18,000 RMB (2,500 EUR / 2,800 USD).
  5. A gold bar: 150,000 RMB ( 21,400 EUR/ 23,600 USD).
  6. I am not sure what this one is, I think it is the dowry to be given to the girl’s parents: 188,000 RMB (26,800 EUR / 29,600 USD).
  7. Money for everyday expenses (and diapers are included! this is being farsighted!). 80,000 RMB (11,400 EUR / 12,600 USD).
  8. Money for food. Unclear when this food is going to be eaten. 100,000 RMB (14,300 EUR / 15,700 USD).
  9. The payment for being allowed to start calling your in-laws “mom” and “dad”. The guy gives the girl’s family 80,000 RMB (11,400 EUR / 12,600 USD); the girl gives the guy’s family 100,000 RMB ((14,300 EUR / 15,700 USD).
  10. Food to be served during the wedding (they were asking for 70 tables, that is 700 guests): 500,000 RMB (71,400 EUR / 78,700 USD).
  11. Red envelopes to give to children during the banquet: 30,000 RMB (4,300 EUR / 4,700 USD).
  12. Payment for the people who introduced the couple: 280 RMB per person, 8 people in total (so 2,240 RMB; 320 EUR / 350 USD).

Total: marrying this girl would cost Larry more than 2 million RMB (285,000 EUR / 315,000 USD). That is more or less the price of a nice apartment in Suzhou. I guess the apartment is not listed because this family must have lots of them, but normally the guy also has to provide the apartment for the couple to live in after the wedding.

My favourite part of the story was Larry’s dad’s reaction. He said: “Son, can you find another girlfriend?”.

I don’t think this list is very usual among “common people”, because if it was, I doubt many men could afford to get married. However, I thought it was interesting and couldn’t help but sharing! I don’t know the girl so no idea what she thinks of all this, but I would be extremely offended if my parents were trying to “sell” me. Because this is what this feels like, right? Larry is being asked to “buy” a wife!

If you are curious, I can tell you that Larry replied he couldn’t afford this price and started bargaining. The car was removed from the list because the girl’s family bought it anyway, and I think he got a 50% reduction on the rest of the items. Let’s see how this ends!

双喜 or double happiness, the character that you are supposed to hang on your windows when you get married.

双喜 or double happiness, the character that you are supposed to hang on your windows when you get married.

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