Friday, December 2, 2011

I McDo: McDonald’s in Hong Kong offers fast food weddings

Anita Li Staff Reporter

Would you like a wedding with that?
Marriage ceremonies are now on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants in Hong Kong for local couples looking for a cheap and easy way to celebrate their love.
Launched in January, McDonald’s Wedding Party is approaching its one-year anniversary. So far, it is only offered in Hong Kong.
The service has proven popular with a younger crowd that grew up with the golden arches, often throwing birthday parties at McDonald’s as children. Now that they’re in their 20s and 30s, it makes sense that they would want to host wedding parties there, too, according to Ruoyun Bai, a professor of Chinese culture at the University of Toronto.
“By offering engagement and wedding packages to these young people, McDonald’s might be seen as trying to tap into a sense of nostalgia,” she said. “It can be seen as evidence of how successfully McDonald’s has re-created itself as a local brand in Hong Kong.”
Some locals call themselves “diehard fans” of McDonald’s food and mascots, said Shirley Chang, managing director of McDonald’s Hong Kong.
“McDonald’s is part of the collective memories for many Hong Kong people,” she said in a news release.
Unlike customers in the West, those in Hong Kong don’t necessarily see a McWedding as tacky because they don’t perceive the brand as lowbrow, Bai said, adding that McDonald’s food is more expensive than meals at a mid-range restaurant serving local cuisine.
“I think it’s their strategy to create a high-end image in Asia, in China.”
There are now more than 200 McDonald’s restaurants in Hong Kong since the first opened in 1975. But unlike in mainland China, where the first McDonald’s opened in 1990, McDonald’s success in Hong Kong has little to do with residents’ fascination with the West, said Bai.
“Maybe in the early days of McDonald’s entry into Hong Kong, it was regarded as the symbol of the West,” she said. “But several decades later, I do not think people eat at McDonald’s in order to seek an American cultural experience.”
The basic “Warm and Sweet” wedding package starts at $9,999 Hong Kong dollars ($1,320 Canadian), including venue rental, decoration, audio equipment, MC, 50 invitation cards, a wedding gift, guest gifts and $3,000 Hong Kong dollars worth of McDonald’s food ($396 Canadian).
Other options include a “cake” made with stacked apple pies and wedding gowns constructed from balloons.
McDonald’s also offers a few kitschy themes for wedding decor and invitations, such as one with Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar and other McDonaldland characters on a Pepto-Bismol pink backdrop.
Couples can throw their wedding ceremony, engagement party or anniversary party at three McDonald’s restaurants in Hong Kong. Each venue accommodates 50 to 100 guests.

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