by Barnaby Fry | March 26, 2015
According to Chinese matrimonial custom, the groom presents his bride’s family with a whole celebratory suckling pig. This pork-gift, roasted until crispy and golden brown, is a culinary symbol of the girl’s virginity. Lucky, then, that the Hong Kong McDonalds’ Wedding caters for the modern couple by providing a beef option.
Since January 1 2012, one branch of the fast food chain has been offering wives, as well as fries, with meals. The McWedding has been made available after considerable demand from Hong Kong locals. “People said they’d dated here, or met here, and wanted to get married here. We see this as a business opportunity,” says Helen Cheung, the Hong Kong director of McDonalds’ corporate communications.
A McDonalds wedding wouldn’t be seen as tacky here… The generation getting married today grew up doing their studying at McDonalds.
Established in Hong Kong in 1975, McDonalds doesn’t carry the social stigma there that it does in the west. “In the U.S. and other places, middle-class or upper-middle-class people look down on McDonalds,” said Gordon Matthews, an anthropologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But Hong Kong is different. A McDonalds wedding wouldn’t be seen as tacky here… The generation getting married today grew up doing their studying at McDonalds. That was one of the chain’s prominent roles in the 1980s and 1990s — as a safe haven where students could study and stay off the streets.”
And the weddings are available on a student budget too. The basic Warm and Sweet Wedding Package for 50 guests goes for under HK$1,300. For another $165, the bride can rent a gown of pearly-white balloons. Since an ordinary Hong Kong wedding costs around $29,000, and the average household monthly income is only about $2,250, the McWedding is unsurprisingly an attractive option for many.
And whilst a wedding under the golden arches can’t compete with the banqueting, outfits and dowry exchange of a regular wedding, McDonalds really do try. You can have a wedding cake (if you count stacked boxes of hot apple pies as a cake). The employees even dress in black suits to serve you. They greet guests at the entrance, usher them to the signature book and deliver the Big Macs and fries with panache. Only thing is, you’ll be sharing the restaurant with the general public. If the McDonalds in Hong Kong bears any resemblance to the Cornmarket Street branch, then in the interests of safety a Saturday evening reception is definitely off the cards.
Image Credit: Rupert Ganzer