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Need a bridesmaid? Renting them has become a burgeoning industry in China

Do a search for renting “bridesmaid dresses” and you’ll get a plethora of options in the results – but renting an actual bridesmaid? Apparently, that’s a thing in China.  

A story from the South China Morning Post profiled a 22-year-old entrepreneur from Shandong province in eastern China, who has joined the burgeoning bridesmaid-for-hire industry and turned it into a career. 

The young woman, known as Huihui, has been a bridesmaid for over a dozen weddings, and has also opened a leasing studio in her city Jinan.

She said more than 1,000 women across the country have registered their interest in becoming ad hoc bridesmaids.

“I think the main reason is that people live a lonely life in modern society. Classmates often do not contact each other after graduation, and it can be challenging to make friends with colleagues,” Huihui said.

The cost of hiring a bridesmaid ranges from 400 yuan ($85) to 1,000 yuan (US$215) per day, depending on the city.

The entrepreneur said young women hoping to be a rented bridesmaid need to fill in a questionnaire listing their age, height, weight, the Chinese zodiac sign for their birth year, personality traits and talents if any.

Huihui said: “Professional bridesmaids should not be too pretty (or) taller than 1.8m. Some clients also want a bridesmaid with at least a bachelor’s degree.

“Professional bridesmaids should not be too beautiful, so that the bride will not be concerned that the bridesmaid will steal the spotlight. However, the rented bridesmaids cannot be too ugly either because the bride might think it will make her lose face.”

A report on the news portal legaldaily.com.cn said rented bridesmaids often need to fabricate stories to tell guests about their “friendship” with the bride.

But it’s a two-way street, as rented bridesmaids also have standards for potential clients to abide by.

Some will not accept wedding pranks, a controversial tradition when the grooms and brides are teased at Chinese weddings, with bridesmaids often roped into the jokes. Others decline orders that require travel.

A woman surnamed Yang, who has served as a professional bridesmaid in Shanghai, told legaldaily.com.cn: “Although there is a saying that the more times you have been a bridesmaid, the less chance you will get married, I do not believe that.”

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