Wedding Dinner and The Moral of giving….

In less than 2 weeks, the wedding dinners will be in vogue during the lunar eighth month. I myself, received an invitation.

This bring to mind, a recent viral condemnation of a bride who chastised her friend through social media, after receiving $50 each from her and partner as wedding ang pow. In the message, the bride even listed down the cost of the dinner, reception & cocktails, that worked out to $200 per head. As a result she and husband were very much short on paying off the reception.

With above in mind, I’m wondering …….
a) Do wedding couples have great expectations that guests must give enough to cover cost of their wedding banquet? (even if wedding couples choose to be extravagant and throw high end dinner?)
b) Is it obligatory for invited guests to give enough to cover for wedding couple’s banquet?
c) Is it not acceptable for invited guests to give whatever they are comfortable with. (Case in point – If one only earns $1000/mth or unemployed, is he or she expected to give $200 ? What if there’s more than one invitation during the wedding season, that person will be in financial difficulty for that month.
d) Is it not totally rude and unbecoming of newly weds to demand and confront your friends for giving too little ?

Let’s hear from one and all your takes on this .


This entry was posted in Forum General by Constance Wong. Bookmark the permalink.

About Constance Wong

Hi All, I'm Constance and was surfing the net for taiqi lesson when I was led to the SHC site. Running thru the site, I've found it very interesting with so many activities. I love cooking especially food that improve & maintain good health in the "silver" years. I'm looking forward to meet you gals & guys and believe life will never be the same again with so many activities to take part. Cheers!

12 thoughts on “Wedding Dinner and The Moral of giving….

  1. Hi Constance

    Thanks for the post. My take is that wedding couples should not expect their guests to ‘pay for all’ the cost of an extravaganza. Afterall it is their decision to be lavish. It is wrong of them to view their wedding celebration as a business transaction. It is even more wrong of them to chastise the givers publicly not realising that the act only bring shame upon themselve.

  2. Hi Constance

    What a great Post! Thank you.

    Totally agree with Lily’s comments. Would like to add that even if the banquet is not lavish, the couple should not expect their expenses to be covered.

    When a relative of mine was planning his wedding banquet, he and his wife refused to accept the groom’s parents to foot the bill. They were reminded that the lai see packets from frens and relatives might not cover their costs (they were thinking they could make a profit) and that they would be lucky if they managed to break even.

    They still decided to go ahead and yes, it was not enough to cover the costs.

    It makes me wonder what is the purpose of having a wedding banquet? Isn’t it to gather frens and relatives to share the joyous occasion and to give the couple blessings?

  3. Next month I have a wedding invitation to St. Regis, so the question how much to give is certainly a difficult one. I think we should give according to ones financial ability and take into account the financial needs of the wedding couple.
    Give whatever you feel most comfortable. I think $200 should be adequate for a single invitee and $400 for a couple. I am giving a $1000 because they are a close relative and the place is relatively upmarket
    If the wedding couple chooses to be extravagant, it is their decision and the giver should not be pressured into giving more.

  4. Charles, I would probably give about the same amount as you, if the wedding couple is a close friend or a close relative. I think the venue is important, but if the person who invites me is someone who invites me just for the sake of inviting me, I would probably give $100 as a single invitee.

    Constance, this is an interesting subject, and I am glad you brought up the topic. Assuming I dont want to go to the wedding, maybe the person is not close enough or I dont like the person, and then I decide not to go, should I send an angpow. Very often, I am away on travel, should I give. Should I give nothing or should I give something. Personally, if I dont go, I would just send $50 or a $100. My tendency is on the lower end.

    Some couples really consider lavishing on an elaborate dinner or tea party. And in the end, they get into a big deficit.

    Good topic Constance.

    Terence Seah

  5. Hi Constance,

    I would normally give $60 to $300 for a colleague or friend. Close ones more.

    Next month, I have a wedding invitation. I intend to give $2000 because she is a very special and close relative.

    I take into consideration the relationship between the invitee and me, not so much the venue.


  6. Good choice of topic Constance.

    For me, I give hong bao amount according to how close I am to the person inviting me. Of course, the venue does play a small part. In general, I usually give about 20% above the value of the dinner (google how much a table cost for the different categories and average it out). I only take Chinese tea and warm water so 20% is fair.


  7. Hi Constance

    This is always a very interesting topic to talk about. I never bother to think of how much to “give” but first thing that come to my mind is – how is the poor or the low income guest able to “give” if for just one wedding dinner a month.

    To many , $50 is just too small a ang-pao and min to all is $150-200 for single invitation but to poor family it can provide 1 week food supply to their family.

    Couple should invite guests with a open n sincere heart n not to worry about break even cost for the dinner.

    “Ang-Pao” is just a blessing to the couple and not what is the amount in it .

    I just missed attending those wedding dinner in kampong in the older day. It was always a very happy occasion and also a get-together for old fren and neighbours. Nobody bother about how high is the heel , what big diamond u wearing or what branded bag u carrying … Yam Sheng !!!!


  8. Agree Karen.

    I remember when I was young, at Hainanese weddings, the person at the door of the restaurant who collects hong bao for the wedding couple will open up the hongbao immediately and announce how much is in it and another person will record the name and amount. I think its not nice to do it but its the tradition.

    No, I did not do it at my daughter’s wedding LOL!


  9. Good morning everyone and thank you each and everyone for your frank opinions.
    From your comments, I gathered we are all very pragmatic people when deciding how much to give and not giving to pressure if the wedding couple choose to be extravagant. Hooray, caveat emptor! for bridal couples who think they can make
    money by throwing lavish dinner . By all means, if you can afford it but not at the expense of your invited guests.

    Terence, I guess by general practice, one still gives a token angpow or a present if one is unable to attend or out station.

    Karen, totally concur with you that couples should accept whatever amount given, even just $2, as some may be in financial difficulty. Count the blessings that they are there to attend personally.

    Carly, I think the Hainanese old practice is a very good strategy of subtle pressure
    to give more. Whoever originally thought of this makes a very good business person, hehehe…..but on the other hand, it’s utterly rude and impolite and luckily, it’s hardly practised nowadays.

    Cheers and thank again for all your feedback which were very interesting and enlightening.

  10. Caroline, I have no idea about the tradition for Hainanese weddings.

    The guest may not be able to afford much and it’s embarrassing if the lai see is a small amount and yet it’s announced! I don’t think I would dare to attend.

Leave a Reply