Three men have been detained in connection with the death of a bridesmaid during wedding festivities in the southern province of Guangdong.

A 22-year-old woman surnamed Luo fell from a balcony on the fourth floor of a house in Foshan on Wednesday afternoon. An ambulance was called, but rescuers were unable to save her.

Local police said on microblogging site Weibo on Friday that the accident occurred during the traditional fetching of the bride, a custom where the groom and groomsmen go to the bride’s home to bring her to the location of the ceremony.

bridesmaid death
The fourth-floor balcony. Photo: Screenshot/Knews.

The segment typically involves the bridesmaids and the bride’s family playing pranks on the groom and groomsmen and requiring them to hand out red envelopes of money before the groom can see his bride.

An elderly relative of the bride told local paper Guangzhou Daily that the groom and his groomsmen were waiting outside the main door, and the bride and bridesmaids were inside. After they handed out red envelopes, the bridesmaids opened the door.

“[A]s soon as the door opened, the groomsmen all rushed inside – the bridesmaids went upstairs to hide, and the groomsmen chased them from below. The young people were playing – that girl went up to the top, and fell down,” she said.

Police said that the three men and others chased the bridesmaids and pushed them.

“Luo was pushed by the crowd to the left side of the fourth floor balcony, the breaking of the stone railings caused her to fall to the ground from the fourth floor, and die of her injuries.”

bridesmaid death
Left: The broken railing. Right: A ribbon worn by a groomsmen. Photos: Weibo.

Three men aged 22, 23 and 24 were criminally detained under suspicion of negligence causing death. The case is under further investigation.

News of the accident triggered online criticism of the practice of traditional wedding pranks, or “naohun,” while others said that shoddy construction should be blamed. Photos taken at the scene showed that a section of the balcony railing had broken off at the base.

The practice of teasing wedding party attendees is often highlighted as contributing to the abuse of bridesmaids in China. Last week, a video of two men sexually assaulting a bridesmaid in a car went viral, prompting a furious backlash on Chinese social media.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.