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Bridesmaids-for-hire service props up in China due to assaults

PTI 18 Apr 2016, 9:33:17 IST

Beijing: Chinas age-old custom of having bridesmaids for enlivening marriages is being taken over by professionals as close relatives of brides refuse to accept the role due to drunken behaviour and sexual assaults by guests.

Chinese wedding celebrations traditionally involve a lot of banter, but this can get out of hand. Bridesmaids are often subject to unwanted physical contact, insults and forced drinking at wedding banquets.

As close relatives shied away from accepting the role, professional bridesmaids services propped all over the country to cash on it.

"Bridesmaids for hire" is the latest promotion offered by Cheng Fei, a wedding planner in east Chinas Jiangxi Province, and business is booming.

"It is not hard to find a best man, but it is getting harder to find bridesmaids," Cheng, who works at the Happiness Wedding Services Company in Nanchang, was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Many Chinese couples like the Western wedding custom of having at least one bridesmaid and a best man.

"Many brides say that their friends live too far away or are too busy. Some are even worried that the guests behaviour is putting off potential bridesmaids. The bridesmaids-for-hire service has gotten rather popular especially after the Bali incident," said Cheng.

On March 30, actress Liu Yan was a bridesmaid for a celebrity couple in Bali, Indonesia, and she was almost thrown into the water by the best men. The video of her ordeal quickly went viral, drawing anger and condemnation from the public over the treatment of bridesmaids.

"At least 15 couples have come to ask about hiring bridesmaids in the last 10 days. Eight have placed orders, each demanding four to eight bridesmaids.
"Usually, we ask our female staff to take up the role, but if the clients request, say, better-looking girls, we can meet their demands," Cheng said.
Each bridesmaid is paid 100 to 200 yuan (USD 16) per day.

With a growing number of young couples choosing to have a group of blushing bridesmaids, the business looks promising.

"One is not enough for many. The trend is at least three bridesmaids and three best men, just for the atmosphere," a woman surnamed Wu said.

In some areas, some hired bridesmaids have been subject to teasing and jokes at weddings, said Ma Xuesong, a folk culture researcher at Jiangxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.