China cracks down on wedding extravaganza and extreme pranks


China is trying to put the brakes on a trend towards increasingly lavish weddings and pre-wedding pranks which can often become violent or sexualised.

Authorities have said modern weddings are both too extravagant and against Chinese and socialist values.

The traditional "hazing" rituals couples are put through have also often been getting out of control.

Beijing's suggested answer is to try to standardise ceremonies to a more traditional and simple format.

Stop pulling all stops

People in China, as in many countries, have increasingly found themselves competing with neighbours and friends over weddings, and caught up spiralling spending as bigger weddings become the fashion.

That means expensive receptions, elaborate outfits and overseas wedding photo shoots, pulling out all the stops no matter the cost.

Guests are also expected to bring ever more lavish gifts.

Meanwhile the tradition of playing pranks on the bride and groom – originally meant as a way of helping them relax on their big day – has often been getting out of hand.

There are regular news reports of wedding-goers carrying out humiliating or violent pranks which have crossed the line into assault.

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.

There have also been reports of brides being forced to mime sexual acts or bridesmaids being pursued to the point of sexual harassment.

The ministry of civil affairs condemned all this as "extravagance and wastefulness" and instead proposed a clear "guidance" towards more "simple and moderate" weddings, China's Xinhua news agency said.

Ceremonies should "integrate socialist values and Chinese traditional culture" to combat "negative social trends and wrong values" and instead set an example for society.

Authorities would "set guidelines on the process of weddings and the amount of cash gifts," ministry official Yang Zongtao said in an interview on state TV broadcast on Sunday.

It's not the first time China has tried to steer how exactly it wants its citizens to tie the knot.

In 2016, the Communist Party issued a raft of guidelines that included how to celebrate your wedding in the spirit of the party's austerity drive.

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