Hong Kong's wedding industry hopes for comeback
Updated 16:28, 04-May-2021
By Richard Kimber

Big ballrooms, bounteous banquets and beautiful bridal gowns... There is no shortage of things to spend money on for couples planning a luxury wedding in Hong Kong. 

But Hong Kong has seen a major slump in the number of weddings as coronavirus restrictions last year ruled out the chance for big celebrations. However, as the virus situation improves, social distancing rules are being eased and wedding businesses are coming together to kickstart a recovery. 

A series of giant wedding exhibitions are taking place at Hong Kong's giant Convention and Exhibition Center. It's a chance for a range of local businesses from hotels and florists, to photographers and even astrologers, to help couples start planning again and get the wedding industry back on track.  

Andrew Chan, the owner of the wedding florist firm Grand Forest, has been in the industry for 20 years. 

"Before COVID we had almost 200 jobs [weddings] a year," said Chan. "These days business is pretty bad. It's a bit of a gamble to take part in this exhibition, but we want to show our face so our key customers know we are still around."

Getting married in Hong Kong is typically a big business. Estimates from one of Hong Kong's biggest lifestyle websites suggests couples typically spend between $40,000 and $50,000 on their weddings. 

With daily COVID-19 case numbers remaining low and vaccination rates increasing, the government has raised the capping on wedding party attendance from 20 to 100. 

There are still preconditions. Everyone in attendance must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That can be checked via a new government app, which is an effort to boost the city's vaccination rate. 

Local couple Daniel and Crystal hope the new rules will mean they can now plan a proper celebration for their big day. 

"We are hoping to have a traditional big wedding banquet, but everything will depend on the latest government rules," Crystal said. "Our venue says it can help if we need to postpone, but if we change one thing, we need to change ten other things. So for anything that requires a deposit payment, we need to take a risk that we may lose some money."

To help couples acclimate to the uncertainties, some companies at the wedding exhibitions are offering new services.  

"We run a Korean style photography studio that's popular with Hong Kong couples," S.A. Wedding Director of Photography Bing Lee said. "To offer more services, we've turned our photo studio into a Korean-themed wedding venue to cater to smaller ceremonies."

It's not just the economy that is set to benefit from a resurgence of couples tying the knot. Hong Kong's birth rate fell almost 20 percent last year, marking the first time in Hong Kong recorded history that there were fewer births than deaths. 

In a blog post in January, Hong Kong's Secretary for Labor and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the slump in weddings was partly to blame for the population drop. He's predicting a recovery in both as the economy continues to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. 

Hong Kong's economy rebounded with stronger-than-expected growth of 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021, posting an 11-year high after a historic low a year ago amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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