Boom time for bridal market
Hong Kong's wedding industry is growing as more couples tie the knot.
The bridal market was worth an estimated HK$14 billion last year, according to wedding website ESDlife, a record high since it started tracking the industry in 2005. In 2010, the figure was HK$12.8 billion.
Last year, the number of marriages shot up by 10.1 per cent compared with 2010. An estimated 57,900 couples celebrated their nuptials last year, according to provisional Census and Statistics Department figures.
This year is expected to be a bumper year for marriages as the lunar Year of the Dragon is traditionally a lucky year.
In particular, it is expected that many couples will aim to wed on December 12, an auspicious date.
According to Kitty Chong, marketing manager at ESD Services, which runs the ESDlife website, couples last year spent an average HK$267,256 on their wedding, a rise of 9.5 per cent compared with 2010.
'This figure keeps increasing every year, except for 2009, due to the financial tsunami,' she says.
The biggest portion of their budget is for the banquet, she explains, followed by the honeymoon.
'Then it's pre-wedding photos, and fourth is jewellery,' she says.
The fifth-largest spend will be the wedding ring. Most couples are finding it hard to fund their wedding day with laisee donations from relatives - this figure remains static, an ESDlife survey found last year.
She adds that 60 per cent of couples will overspend.
This is, however, good news for wedding expo organisers Audace International, which has experienced a rise in visitors to its events, including the Ninth Annual Wedding Showcase held in April at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay. Catherine Ho, of Audace's sales and marketing department, says that so far this year the company has held six wedding expos in Hong Kong, with another six to come. 'Booth numbers are increasing, around more than 30 per cent in the past five to 10 years,' she says.
Exhibitors come from all aspects of a wedding - video operators, cosmetics artists, jewellery, hotels, wedding planners and dressmakers.
Growth in the bridal industry has even prompted the region's first university course in wedding planning.
The Professional Certificate in Wedding Planning Management at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Professional and Continuing Education, part of the Open University of Hong Kong, was introduced in 2008.
Katemagg Chau, country director for the Greater China region for the Association of Bridal Consultants, teaches the course.
She explains that a higher diploma programme is in the pipeline as demand for top-calibre graduates continues to rise.
She also points out that the industry is responding to greater demand from couples for more innovative weddings.
Since 2006, couples have been able to wed anywhere in Hong Kong - not just at government-designated locations.