The golden couple

Why China’s most extravagant wedding was so commercially successful

Angelababy w

With this $1.5 million ring, all my worldly goods I with thee share

Weddings are notoriously expensive. In the US, the wedding industry is worth over $50 billion annually, according to the New York Times. In China, it is an $80 billion behemoth. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given that in China a wedding is usually an extravagant affair and, for rich families, an opportunity to show off.

While it is difficult for most couples to recoup the costs of the wedding – even after receiving all those gifts of crockery and toasters from guests – one couple in China has managed to not only to break even but actually make a profit from their nuptials.

Early this month, Chinese heartthrob Huang Xiaoming married actress Angelababy in what the media calls the “wedding of the century”. The over-the-top ceremony took place at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre where more than 2,000 guests turned up, many of whom being some of the most famous faces in the country like actresses Li Bingbing and Shu Qi.

The centre, which costs half a million yuan a day to rent, was sealed off for several days beforehand for decoration purposes. The South China Morning Post reports that the main hall of the centre was filled with tens of thousands of roses while 200 workers laboured overtime to replicate the bride’s dream of getting married in a castle. There was also a 2.5 metre cake fashioned to look like a carousel, which is said to have taken a month to make.

And then there was the wedding gown. The wedding dress worn by Angelababy – who has been dubbed by the Daily Mail as “China’s Kim Kardashian” – was custom-made by Dior, while several sets of outfits that she wore in the couple’s wedding pictures – taken in Paris – were from couture house Elie Saab. (This being the 300th issue of Week in China, we should remind readers that we first profiled Angelababy in issue 29.)

Days before the wedding, the bride also showed off her pear-shaped six-carat diamond Chaumet Josephine engagement ring via her social media account. It is estimated to be worth Rmb10 million ($1.56 million). During the wedding ceremony, she also wore an antique brooch and a crown that were rented from Chaumet’s own museum.

So how much did the whole wedding cost? News portal NetEase estimated that Huang shelled out at least Rmb200 million for the big day (though this may factor in a luxury apartment in Shanghai – the new love nest is worth Rmb130 million).

But when confronted with the question about the cost of the wedding, Huang demurred to be too precise, saying only “In my heart, she [Angelababy] is priceless.” (Which to WiC sounds remarkably like a MasterCard ad.)

But as it turns out, the groom didn’t really have to splurge that much because the couple signed a slew of endorsement deals before the wedding. For example, it was reported that Shanghai high-end florist and boutique The Beast supplied the extravagant flowers at the venue.

Huaxia Metropolis Daily was also quick to point out that the luxury sedans – Rolls Royces and Mercedes Benz – which shuttled the guests at the event were sponsored by the online lending platform Aicai, in which Huang is an investor. Even the Spanish wine that was served at the wedding was distributed by another one of Huang’s companies. Meanwhile, the goody bag for guests included chocolate supplied by Dove and smartphones from Chinese handset maker Meitu, both of which the bride endorses.

“Everything from the diamond ring to the floral arrangement were sponsored by advertisers. It is safe to say that not only did the wallet of the newly-weds not shrink from the wedding, it probably got bigger,” the newspaper jokes.

It was money well spent for the advertisers. Coverage of the wedding was read 1.6 billion times on portal Sina alone. After getting such a major publicity boost, the florist The Beast is now reaping some of the benefits by selling replicas of the bouquets and boutonniere worn by VIP guests at the wedding.

Similarly, Coach, which Angelababy endorses, released a special edition handbag that comes embossed with their wedding logo “ah” (the initial of their two names), says Tencent Finance. Another company Liang Pin Pu Zhi, a Chinese snack maker that hired Huang as an ambassador, also touted a special snack package for the occasion, called “To Baby”.

On a less commercial note, Angelababy’s new husband did set up a charitable foundation for his wife. The groom’s wedding gift will provide financial aid to over 500 hearing-impaired children in China.

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