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December 25, 2012

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Weddings sky-high as costs of banquets, extras double

SHANGHAI couples are expected to spend more on their weddings next year as prices of wedding banquets and other services spiral upwards.

The costs of banquets have doubled compared to five years ago, whereas such service fees as photography has soared almost 90 percent in the past two years.

The price for a wedding banquet stood at 4,000 yuan (US$645) to 6,000 yuan per table on average at local four- star hotels. At local five-star hotels, the cost is 6,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan per table on average.

The Westin Hotel in Shanghai quoted about 6,888 yuan to 10,888 yuan, including a 15 percent service fee. The Yan'an Hotel prices banquets around 4,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan.

In 2008, a table cost only a little more than 2,000 yuan on average for most four-star hotels in Shanghai.

The increase will range between 10 to 15 percent next year, the Shanghai Wedding Service Association predicted.

Despite soaring prices, some popular hotels said they have been almost fully booked next year except for a few days in July and August.

The association said newlyweds' pursuit of lavish weddings has boosted the price in recent years, even as fewer weddings are held.

It has been a trend for a year or two, He Lina, secretary general of the association, said yesterday. She said the price of wedding banquets has grown even though the prices of ingredients have not risen nearly as quickly. Menus vary slightly every year.

The surging prices have been a burden on parents who have already saved money for an apartment for newlyweds. Higher prices force them to dip into their pensions, she said, even as they hope youngsters will stop trying to "keep up with Joneses."

A July survey by Shanghai Wedding Exposition organizers that polled 3,000 couples who had booked banquets or were planning for weddings found local couples host 16 to 17 tables on average and many ask for help from parents.

"Local couples are decreasing the number of tables as they are 'running a deficit' with cost outpacing 'red envelopes' with money gifts," He said.


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