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China booming, Luxury weddings booming in China, the latest trend

China's wedding industry is booming thanks to higher standards of living and new fashion trends that appeal to young couples.
From luxurious gowns to wedding planners, Chinese lovers have never had so much choice.
Choosing the right wedding dress is never easy, no matter where you live.
One young bride - Sally Jing - is shopping in one of Beijing's more up market bridal shops, and is literally spoilt for choice.
She has invited around 200 people to her wedding reception in Beijing, and is also planning a second wedding reception in her boyfriend's home-town in south China.
Her boyfriend's family are paying for the wedding, while her parents are buying the couple a one-bedroom apartment in Beijing.
For many of China's upwardly mobile young, a wedding is an opportunity to show-off their wealth and status, while conforming to traditions.
While a few years ago many Chinese brides used to rent wedding dresses, now many choose to splash out on one-off hand-made gowns.
Li Fei, a bridal-wear designer, says today many couples shun cheap materials in favour of more luxurious fabrics.
"In the past, people used to rent their wedding dress, or buy a cheap one because they would wear it only once. Nowadays young couples have a very different attitude. Because it is a once in a lifetime chance to show off, they pay much more attention on the quality and character of the wedding dress," she says.
Her store sells both ready-made dresses or bespoke gowns.
Fei adds they make simple dresses that showcase the quality of the fabrics.
"This dress is represents the style of our shop. We praise minimalism, and like to highlight the quality of the material, and the delicate details."
Fei, who trained in Paris, sells her designs for anything from RMB US $ 880 to US $ 2.900.
Commenting on the spending habits of Chinese couples is Zhang Li, the editor of Public Marriage Information, a monthly magazine specializing in bridal ware.
She says on average Beijingers spend around US $ 7.300 for their wedding.
Because of this lucrative market, a whole range of businesses have sprung up to cater for the wedding market.
From specialized photographers to wedding planners, would-be couples have plenty to choose from.
Today Chinese lovers can tie the knot in western style or opt for a more traditional ceremony.
One such service provider is Vivian Wedding, a small wedding planning company run by Vivian Hu.
She says her customers are looking for guidance in all the stages of planning a wedding: from the conception, to running the logistics of the big day.
"Our customers hire us as consultants from the very beginning to plan the wedding. For example we choose the hotel, the wedding car, wedding dress even where to take the wedding photos. Apart from consultant services we also help organize logistics on the wedding day," says Hu.
Hu's company now provides a wide variety of services from greeting cards to choosing the right menu.
She started the company two years ago with her husband in a spare room in her apartment, and now has a smart showroom in downtown Beijing.
In traditional Chinese culture marriage is highly valued as an institution - this is reflected by the more than 200 million weddings a year, according to the state-run Wedding Industry Committee.
Zhang Li, editor of Public Marriage Information magazine, says weddings are often lavish affairs, with several hundred people being invited.
"The cost of a wedding dress starts from around US $ 290 and up. The biggest expense on weddings in my opinion is the wedding feast. In Chinese weddings, people will invite so many relatives and friends come to the wedding, from 100 people up to 500 and more," she says.
With several months before her big day, Sally Jing's biggest decision is made.
She has finally made her choice of a wedding dress, one designed by Fei, and is happily recording the moment with the help of a photographer.
She says the dress makes her feel like a princess.
"I like this dress a lot. I feel like a princess when I wear it. I think the design is really unique, showing my waist curve perfectly."
The dress chosen by Jing has intricate silk stitching and retails at US $ 1.300.
According to data released by the Wedding Industry Committee, the Chinese wedding industry is worth more than US $ 58.5 billion.
11,458,000 couples were married in 2009, according to the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs.
That was an increase of 9% compared to the previous year.

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