Dreams of a fairytale wedding, coupled with rising living standards, have inspired the mainland's first international wedding exhibition, which opened in Beijing yesterday. Attendance was low in the morning but swelled in the afternoon, suggesting big crowds over the weekend for the China Wedding Expo, which showcases dresses and accessories designed in Guangdong, Beijing, Korea and Japan. Activities include a wedding industry summit, workshops giving new couples tips about home design and honeymoons and a wedding makeup workshop. 'It's the most important day in the life of almost everyone who gets married so people want it to be perfect, which means they'll seek out every piece of information that's out there,' said Liu Huihui , chief secretary of the expo's organising committee. 'We've attempted to put all of that in one place and dozens of overseas-based wedding dress manufacturers are among those looking at breaking into the Chinese market.' Among other expo events, 18 of the 'most beautiful brides and grooms in Beijing' will be chosen tomorrow, with couples judged on appearance, dress and stage presence. The mainland wedding market is worth an estimated 250 billion yuan a year. 'With economic development, people are becoming more critical and professional in putting together their weddings, and this creates a huge market for the industry in China,' said Ms Liu. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, almost 10 million couples marry per year. An average of about 90,000 couples get married in Beijing alone, while a survey by the organising committee shows 120,000 couples plan to tie the knot in the capital this year. Yu Meng , 27, an employee at the US embassy in Beijing, is planning to get married and wants to learn as much as she can about western-style weddings. 'The wedding-service market in Beijing is still fairly immature and it's hard to get the information you need, so hopefully the expo will be the answer,' she said. 'I'll go with my boyfriend on Saturday.' Another bride-to-be, who visited the expo with her boyfriend yesterday afternoon, said she was hungry for more wedding information. 'I was after information about jewellery, travel services and wedding photography but even with the expo, the information is pretty hard to find...However, it's better than not having such an event,' she said.