Baring it All for Love? The Skinny on ‘Naked Marriage’ in China

When I say my husband and I had a “half-naked marriage”, you’d be wrong to envision the two of us parading down the aisle in, say, a stripper’s version of wedding garb. As titillating as it might sound, the reality looks far more practical (and not nearly as sexy), as reported in the Feb 3, 2010, China Daily article Embracing a ‘naked marriage:

A witty poem on major BBS and SNS websites defines naked marriages as: “No apartment, no car, nor diamond ring; no wedding ceremony, nor honeymoon; each of us pays 4.50 yuan ($0.66), and we get a wedding certificate to start a new life.”

There are two types of naked marriage, the totally nude kind and the half-naked marriage, which means the man should at least provide a ring or something else for his beloved when they get hitched.

Our nuptials fell into the latter, as I described years ago in the post Marriage in China is Home, Car, Money?:

By July 2007, it’s not as if John and I hadn’t wrestled with these issues before. We faced “Money” all the time — hadn’t we survived summer 2006, when some months I never knew when the checks from my new business would come in, and wondered what bills to pay and what to leave aside? Hadn’t we just managed to scrounge the cash together for plane tickets? When it came to “Car,” we were just grateful that our secondhand 1991 Toyota station wagon — teeter-tottering with every bump on its barely-there shocks — still ran after some 170,000-plus miles. And as for “Home,” we felt lucky to manage the rent on our place — owning just wasn’t in the cards for us yet.

Still, we did have a wedding ceremony in 2007 (which included a banquet that welcomed over 150 guests) and enjoyed a simple honeymoon a few years earlier in Bali, firmly placing us in the “half-naked marriage” camp.

But here in China, our choice still remains largely exceptional, as the 2015 CNN article No frills? Chinese say ‘I do’ to creative — and cheaper — weddings stated:

While the public seems to appreciate the philosophy of true love trumping everything else, most respondents in repeated surveys still reject the notion of disavowing all traditional trappings of marriage.

The 2011 China Daily article Money-troubled post-80s find naked wedding as way out provides some examples of those statistics:

An online survey from China’s popular matchmaker’s network,, showed 38 percent of women voted in “support” of a naked marriage, while 77 percent of male voters were happy with it.

And so does the 2013 China Daily article Marriage attitudes slowly change:

When asked about “naked marriage”, a recently coined term for getting married without owning a house, car or much other property, 45 percent of those polled said they are not against the idea, but less than 30 percent would “practice a naked marriage” themselves.

While I embraced our half-naked marriage, I don’t believe I represent most foreign women either. In my previous post 5 Fascinating Stereotypes of Western Women in China, I emphasized that many follow the lead of Ember Swift, who blogged about how she valued the financial stability of the Chinese man she later married.

Nevertheless, China will always have its share of couples who dare to eschew all that pricey pomp and circumstance, whether for frugality or simply to make a statement. And while Jun and I most certainly did not have a bare-it-all ceremony, that hasn’t stopped some couples in China from trying out a more literal interpretation of the naked marriage concept — such as saying “I do” in something resembling their birthday suits.


What do you think about naked marriage?

P.S.: For those curious, naked marriage in Chinese is 裸婚 (luǒhūn).

One Reply to “Baring it All for Love? The Skinny on ‘Naked Marriage’ in China”

  1. For several years after getting married my mother in law always brought up this topic as my wife and I had a naked marriage.
    MIL would always talk about what apartment the daughter of a friend got and how much money the parents received…
    Thankfully she never brought up the topic back when we got married. My wife also never thought much about it but of course you cant avoid the topic when you hear it all the time especially when it comes to the fancy expensive weddings her friends have compared to our simple ones in china and finland.

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