A ‘reverse dowry’, which often includes the cost of an expensive wedding and a cash payment to the bride and her family, has become common practice in China.
But the price has been rising in rural areas where almost four decades of the one-china policy has left a gender imbalance – and fewer potential wives.
Dengzhou, in central China’s Henan province, has capped the ‘betrothal gift’ for a bride’s family at 30,000 yuan (€3700), according to Dahe.cn, a news website run by the local government.
Local officials have also ordered that the bride’s family can only invite 20 guests, the report said.
The new rules cover minute details of the celebrations, restricting each guest to only 36 yuan (€5) worth of food, with only two bottles of 50 yuan (€6.30) liquor and 20 cigarettes for every ten people.
Local officials said the new rules were to encourage “frugality”, and that funerals were also being targeted.
However, there is concern in many parts of rural China that poor families are wiping out their savings by splashing out on expensive weddings in order to attract a bride.
Gao Yonggang, a culture and ideology official in Dengzhou told the Henan Business Daily: “It is causing huge financial burdens on the groom's family.”
Rural Chinese families often abort girls or abandon them at birth. Men are seen as more able to support parents in old age, and can also continue the family lineage in Chinese traditional culture.
Taiqian county, which is also in Henan, announced it would cap the bride price at 60,000 yuan last year. However, officials did not clarify how they would enforce the rule.
Additional reporting by Christine Wei