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China’s young single women find new career as professional bridesmaids

Forget “three times a bridesmaid, never a bride”, more young single women in China are marketing themselves as professional bridesmaids and 22-year-old Xie Yuke is one of them. After “accidentally” dipping her toe in the new territory in 2020, the recent finance graduate has been a maid of honour for more than 40 brides whom she had never met before until the wedding.

Her first experience as a bridesmaid brought her an income of nearly 2,600 RMB ($359.81), including a 1,600 RMB ($221.42) service fee and the rest were red envelopes (a monetary gift enfolded in a red packet symbolising good wishes, which is also a Chinese tradition) from the couple’s families and friends, which was more than enough to cover her travel expenses back to her hometown in Hangzhou, Sichuan.

Now she is the CEO of a professional bridesmaid and groomsmaid sourcing platform and is one of many such businesses in China. The initial part-time job unsurprisingly saw peak demands during national holidays, with orders of “bridesmaid rental” surging 20-fold during the May 1 Holiday (or China’s Labours’ Day) in 2021, according to Alibaba’s resale platform Xianyu. The service was also in demand during this year’s most recent seven-day National Day Holiday with hundreds of requests being received by Xie.

Although having maids of honour is not a custom exclusive to Chinese society, bridesmaids are generally indispensable in China’s modern weddings and are assigned with responsibilities ranging from assisting with dressing the bride and wedding room decorating to photography, greeting guests and keeping things moving when preparing and participating in wedding games. Specific tasks might vary between a traditional Chinese wedding and a Western-style celebration.


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