China calls for end to expensive weddings, sexualized pre-wedding pranks

BEIJING: The Chinese government has taken aim at the trend of increasingly expensive weddings and pre-wedding pranks which often turn violent or sexualized.

According to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, modern weddings are extravagant and can sometimes raise moral issues. Instead, it urged people to celebrate their big day in a more traditional and frugal way, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The ministry had a number of phenomena in its sights – including “sky-high” monetary gifts, a need to compete with the neighbours and hazings that often lead to assault and violence – reflecting “rampant money worship” and “declining morality”, the report said.

People in China are more and more indulging in expensive receptions, elaborate outfits and overseas wedding photo shoots.

At a conference on wedding reform last week, officials said weddings should “better reflect” the country’s values and goals and implement “Xi Jinping Thought,” the President’s much-touted political ideology.

Those problems “not only hinder growth and poverty alleviation in rural areas, but also affect the harmony of families and healthy development of society”, the ministry said.

Ministry official Yang Zongtao said in an interview on Sunday that grass-roots government bodies would be asked to standardise marriage rites to address these issues.

Authorities would set guidelines on the process of weddings and the number of cash gifts, he said.

Meanwhile, the tradition of playing pranks on the bride and groom is going overboard in China, officials said.

There are regular news reports of wedding-goers carrying out humiliating or violent pranks. There have been reports of brides being forced to mime sexual acts or bridesmaids being pursued to the point of sexual harassment.

Last week, a bridegroom was hit by a car while trying to escape the pre-wedding ritual which involved him being tied up and beaten.

One week before, several bridesmaids were injured by broken glass when the groom’s party tried to get into the bride’s house by breaking the door with an axe.

“Ceremonies should integrate socialist values and Chinese traditional culture to combat negative social trends and wrong values and instead set an example for society,” the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.