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Wednesday, 14 March 2018 | MYT 10:31 AM

Money won’t buy you love: the Chinese-Ukrainian couple who rejected the traditional ‘bride price’

A Chinese man and his Ukrainian bride have raised eyebrows in his rural hometown by shunning the tradition of paying a “bride price”.

He Pengwei, from rural Yangcheng county, northwestern Shanxi province, and Inesa, from Ukraine, decided to get married after meeting in Beijing, dating for one year and falling in love. 

Inesa, a translator, was drawn to He’s warmth and kindness, according to news portal china.com, which did not disclose Inesa’s surname. He, a salesman, said he liked Inesa’s cheerful, outgoing personality.

When the pair informed their parents of their intention to wed, however, He’s family was taken by surprise: Inesa’s parents demanded no bride price. 

The bride price – which takes the form of money or property paid by the groom or his parents to the bride’s family before a wedding – is still common practice in China.

The exact form of value varies from place to place but it is usually worth the equivalent of thousands of US dollars. 

A survey conducted by the state-run People’s Daily last year found that grooms in Beijing typically present their prospective in-laws with a 200,000 yuan (US$31,600) cash gift and a flat before being granted the woman’s hand in marriage. 

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The practice also is followed in many other countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

It is not observed in Ukraine and other European countries. 

“The girl’s family didn’t ask for a bride price, and didn’t demand that we buy a flat or a car,” He’s amazed father, He Jianguo, told china.com on Monday. 

“My son’s wedding was very simple, and we only prepared for one week,” He Jianguo said. “Our relatives said they had never seen any groom taking it so easy before the wedding.” 

Transformed into a metaphor for the power of love, the couple became social media stars after their wedding in He’s hometown on March 8. 

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Curious local residents flocked to their nuptials, after a video of the bride in a traditional Chinese wedding dress and the groom in a suit walking on the street of Yangcheng with friends and relatives circulated on social media. 

Inesa and He plan to start their own business in Yangcheng and visit Ukraine in two years to have a Ukrainian-style wedding there, according to china.com. 

“It’s very nice here [in Yangcheng],” said Inesa, who had originally moved to Beijing four years ago out of a desire to immerse herself in Chinese culture.

“The weather is good and the people are nice. My in-laws treated me very well.” 

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She has discovered a new passion since moving to China: “I like eating hele [a kind of special local noodle].” 

For his part, He could not be happier. 

“We have very good chemistry,” He was quoted by china.com. “Even though we have conflicts, we are very tolerant towards each other. I’m very lucky to have met such a good girl.”

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