No time to waste
Weeklong national holiday turns into stressful 'wedding week' for many in China
National Day holidays are fast approaching, but Yang Fan, 27, is having trouble feeling the sense of joy one usually associates with the vacation. She has been
trying for days to buy high-speed train tickets for three different places, which is not an easy job during the holiday rush. Unlike other young Chinese faced with the same challenge, Yang cannot just pick a new place. She has to go. Three of her good friends are getting married, and she has to be present.
Falling in the cool autumn season, the weeklong National Day holidays have become among the most popular days for young couples to hold their big day.
More than 5.5 million couples got married nationwide during the first half of 2017 according to statistics published by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. In other words, more than 31,000 couples tied the knot every day between January and June this year.
In 2015, around 28,000 couples got married in Tianjin during the first week of October, and up to 60,000 tables are booked for wedding banquets in Wuhan, Hubei Province during the same period, reported by China News Service. The trend has grown to the extent that Golden Week has effectively become “wedding week” among some groups.
However full of romance and blessing it might be, the week has become a pain for many young Chinese who are asked to attend weddings during the coveted holiday period.
No time for relaxation
Yang, who works in Beijing, has received three wedding invitations so far. The events will be held in Shanghai, Nanjing in Jiangsu Province and Wuhan in Hubei Province. She had planned to have a five-day trip in Thailand, but she had to give it up.
“They are my very good friends, and I don’t want to disappoint them on their most important day,” said Yang.
Two of the brides were her high school classmates, and the third was her best friend in college. To attend all three ceremonies, Yang needs to keep moving. There is no time for relaxation.
“It’s like a tightly packed business trip,” she said.
All Yang lacks is the train tickets. She tried using various apps but still hasn’t gotten them all. She feels like it is Spring Festival holiday, but with multiple destinations and more money to pay.
For some people, attending a wedding is more like a task or a debt that must be repaid.
Li Jia (pseudonym) and her newlywed husband have four weddings to attend during the eight-day holiday. The couple had intended to travel abroad, but when the invitations arrived, they had to cancel their trip. They felt like they had no choice.
“Those friends had come to support our wedding when we got married. Now, it’s time for us to return the favor,” said Li.
“Some people just give red envelopes or gifts. [But,] I know how much it hurts when you see empty chairs at the guest tables on your big day. We won’t do that to
The cost of attending a wedding is another challenge that many young people face when it comes to “wedding week.” Paying for the journey plus gifts and red envelopes can be quite costly.
“I’ve already paid for around 2,000 yuan ($302) for train tickets so far, let alone the expenses for the couples,” said Yang.
She estimates that the total cost for the week will be around 7,000 yuan, which almost equals her monthly income.
According to Yang, the amount of gift money she would put in a red envelope starts at 1,000 yuan and increases based on the closeness of their friendship.
“I don’t expect them to pay me back. It’s just for friendship and tradition, but I have to say it’s a bit stressful when I think of the rent I need to pay next month,” Yang said. She has gifted friends as much as 2,000 yuan before.
After receiving an invitation from one of her best friends, Wang Xin, 25, has been conflicted. She finds it hard to balance the cost of the trip and the value of her friendship. The wedding will be held in Gansu Province, and the round-trip airplane ticket is over 3,000 yuan, more than half of Wang’s monthly income.
“I cannot decide whether it would be more economical to save myself the trip and gift the cost of the flight to the couple instead,” she said.
Pick a more suitable date
Facing increasing pressure to attend weddings during the jam-packed “golden wedding week,” many people are calling for couples who are planning to get married to choose more convenient dates.
“I know I should go support my friends and share in their happiness, but I would really appreciate it if they can arrange their event on an ordinary weekend, instead of during national holidays," said Li.
She stressed that even a best friend needs rest on holidays and that holding a wedding during the off-season period saves money.
“Both people and tickets would be more available during ordinary weekends. It’s a win-win solution,” said Li.
Ashley Sun, a 26-year-old who works in Beijing, agrees.
“The most annoying arrangement is to put the event in the middle of the holiday, say October 3 or 4. It breaks the whole vacation and makes it so that you cannoto g anywhere outside of a certain distance,” Sun said.
When Sun married last year, she had her wedding one day before a national holiday so that her friends could enjoy an extended vacation.
“Holding and participating in a wedding should be a sweet thing. It should enhance our happiness and friendship,
not the other way around,” Sun said.
How to deal with wedding invitations
When asked how to handle wedding invitations during national holidays, the interviewees gave Metropolitan some suggestions about how to either attend and make the best of it or politely decline.
1. Be selective. Identity your very good friends from your social circle and attend their weddings. You don’t need to attend every friend’s wedding. For acquaintances, send them your best wishes and that’s it.
2. Plan your holiday trip early, at least one month ahead, and book nonrefundable tickets and hotel rooms so that you have a good reason for being absent.
3. Combine your fun plan with the wedding date. Plan a short trip in or near the city where the event is being held and have some fun with your longtime friends who are attending the same event.
4. Use social media to give yourself a “disguise.” Pretend to be super busy at least two weeks ahead of the holiday and put posts of yourself working overtime or on a business trip on your WeChat Moments or other social media accounts so that when someone asks about your availability, you have a reasonable excuse for not attending.
5. Stop adding old acquaintances on social media before and during the holiday season, especially old classmates or college fellows who are not that close to you and haven’t seen you for a very long time.
The National Day holidays are among the most popular days young people choose to get married on.
Young Chinese feel pressure to attend multiple weddings during Golden Week. Send your tips, insights or photos to or call our Address: The Global Times English Edition, 2 Jintai Xilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100026.