Two things can be said about the wealthy Chinese these days. It seems they no longer know what to do with their money. If they’re not buying up empty apartment buildings, they’re buying Ferrettis and dining with the Prince of Monaco. Another thing…they are in love with U.S. brands and Made for TV U.S. lifestyles.
If they’re not buying up LA and Orange County Barbie Dream Houses, they’re out scouring the best American private schools to prepare their teens for the Ivy Leagues. And now, they are all over the American wedding planner. Saying I do in Mandarin is not the same without it being followed by Buster Pointdexter’s Hot! Hot! Hot!
“The rich in China today are looking beyond the usual luxury travel and are going after experiences,” says Christine Lu, founder of Affinity China, a New York to LA to Shanghai firm that helps set up those unique experiences with Chinese travelers heading to the States. “They want to do things that the rest of the wealthy are not yet doing and getting married in California is one of them,” she told Forbes in a recent interview.
Here’s the good news for young American wedding planners looking for adventure. The market for Chinese weddings in the U.S. is small, but growing. The market for Chinese in China looking for American wedding planners is booming.
A dream weddings ad in Shenzhen, China. Photo by Julio B.
Getting married in China is big business. About $57 billion is spent annually on 10 million weddings a year. The families spend on the usual: photographs, limos, wedding gowns and honeymoons — to the U.S. or at home. About a tenth of the total expense traditionally goes to the wedding banquet, according to the China Wedding Industry Development Report described in China Daily this weekend. Around 50% of the couples getting married are now turning to wedding planners to help organize the show, according to the website of Weddings Beautiful Worldwide,a 45 year old American firm that teaches how to be a planner.
Weddings Beautiful China is a joint venture with Weddings by Ling Ying — a young company that caters to affluent Chinese couples, expats and Chinese A-listers. They opened their doors, bringing American style over-the-top weddings to Beijing in 2011. Another office opened in Shanghai in 2012 and a branch was just launched last week in Suzhou, a smaller city in Jiangsu Province a few miles away from Lake Taihu.
Get your DJ equipment and your vintage Miami Sound Machine CDs and head to China. You’ll be sure to kill it introducing them to the wedding Conga line.