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Chinese Weddings Go Glam

I'm Celia Hatton and this letter from Asia comes to you from Beijing.

As China gets richer, many personal traditions are changing, and wedding ceremonies fall into that category, giving rise to an entire industry that caters to couples who want to tie the knot with as much glitz and glamour as possible.

The first generation of children from China's policy of one-child per family are getting married and their parents, often flush with cash from the country's blossoming economy, are splurging on lavish celebrations of love.

Bridal seamstress Shao Xiaoqing can hardly keep up with the trend. Just a few years ago, women rented cheap wedding gowns. Now, many come to Shao to commission their own designs.

It costs just over a dollar to buy a marriage license in China, but the celebrations around that marriage can cost a lot more than that. A standard Beijing wedding has a 4900 dollar price tag. That's more than the average city worker makes in a year.

Ge Ning, the editor of China's Modern Bride magazine says wedding planners are getting a lot of business, and sales of platinum, gold and diamonds are rising dramatically.

The industry's only going to get more exposure. Photo studios like this one are shooting for a busy year in 2008 as couples marry in honor of the Beijing Olympics.

The bottom line? For these newlyweds, taking the time and spending the money to stop and smell the roses is a priceless experience.
by Celia Hatton