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April 18, 2016

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Bridesmaids business gets a Bali boost

BUSINESS is booming for a wedding planner in east China after he began offering bridesmaids for hire.

“It is not hard to find a best man, but it is getting harder to find bridesmaids,” said Cheng Fei, of the Happiness Wedding Services Co in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province.

“Many brides say their friends live too far away or are too busy. Some are even worried that guests’ behavior is putting off potential bridesmaids,” he said.

“The bridesmaids-for-hire service has gotten rather popular especially after the ‘Bali incident’,” said Cheng.

Last month, actress Liu Yan was a bridesmaid for a celebrity couple in Bali, Indonesia, and was almost thrown into the water by the “best men.” The video of her ordeal went viral, drawing anger and condemnation over the treatment of bridesmaids.

“At least 15 couples have come to ask about hiring bridesmaids in the last 10 days. Eight have placed orders, each demanding four to eight bridesmaids,” said Cheng.

“Usually we ask our female staff to take up the role, but if the clients request, say, better-looking girls, we can meet their demands,” said Cheng. Each bridesmaid is paid 100 to 200 yuan (US$31) per day.

With a growing number of young couples choosing to have a group of blushing bridesmaids, the for-hire business looks promising.

“One is not enough for many. The trend is at least three bridesmaids and three best men, just for the atmosphere,” said a woman surnamed Wu in Nanchang.

In some areas, however, some hired bridesmaids have been subject to teasing and jokes at weddings, said Ma Xuesong, a folk culture researcher with the Jiangxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

Chinese wedding celebrations traditionally involve a lot of banter, but this can get out of hand. Bridesmaids are often subject to unwanted physical contact, insults and forced drinking.

According to the Wuhan Evening News, one woman from Wuhan said she would not take part unless the couple sign a contract banning any untoward behavior directed at her during the wedding.

“Uncivilized and indecent behavior may still occur, but lines should be drawn and guests should mind their manners,” said Liu Qianding, a folk culture researcher based in Wuhan.

The maid of honor has the dubious role of being “the maid to be shamed,” and some brides choose not to have one at all.


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