No time to waste

Week­long na­tional hol­i­day turns into stress­ful 'wed­ding week' for many in China

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By He Keyao

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

our friends.”

Costly sup­port

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.

Pho­tos: Li Hao/

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.

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