HONG KONG Couples planning to walk down the aisle in Hong Kong better have some deep pockets. Even as consumer prices generally have dropped on the Chinese island, the average cost for a wedding is up to 314,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $40,000), according to the China Daily News.

Retail sales in Hong Kong have been falling for the last eight months, in part because of fewer Chinese tourists arriving, but weddings costs have curiously spiked. Receptions alone now cost on average the equivalent of $21,000, and rings and jewelry around $6,500. The average honeymoon now sets couples back $4,900, and the rest of the budget covers the photo shoot and all additional expenses, according to a study on the ESDlife ecommerce website for brides.

The flipside is that this expensive reality is mitigated by cultural tradition. Wedding guests tend to arrive at the celebration feast with red envelopes stuffed with cash that generally cover the cost of their meals. In Hong Kong, the envelope is known as a "favor."

Everybody knows exactly how much to put in their "favor." If invited to a reception at a top-class hotel, a guest would give between, say, $130 to $150. But if the invitation is to a standard restaurant, the "favor" would only be about half as much.

Chinese pragmatism also dictates that there is no such thing as a wedding registry, and cash is a sign of sincerity. It is for this reason that any invitation to a wedding is colloquially known as a "red bomb."

Unlike in the West, where people generally marry in spring or summer, the favored time for Chinese weddings is the New Year. The rush to the altar is from November to February, so any unmarried girl in March knows she's going to have to wait one more year. At least.