Misfortune tests friendships, but perhaps even a joyous event does.
One would think that after a wedding, while the newly married couple unwrap the presents and the bridesmaids open their red envelops, there would cheers all around.
But that’s not what happened in one particular case, and it’s all because the protagonists in the story disagree on how much lai see should be given as a gift.
It all started when a bridesmaid said on her WhatsApp account she felt she didn’t have a place in her friend’s heart, referring to the bride, because the lai see she received from the couple was “below market rates”. She got HK$200 (US$26).
On the same page, the friend snapped back that the bridesmaids only gave an average of HK$666 (an unholy figure, one might say), which was lower than what the other guests gave.
Not content with her reply, the bride copied the exchange and posted it on her Facebook page, which naturally generated more comments from mutual friends, and was shared on other accounts, drawing further discussions.
One would say that brides and bridesmaids should not wash their dirty laundry — or in this case, count their lai see — in public.
And figuring out just how much to give during such occasions is a delicate, if touchy, topic. Bridesmaids are customarily given lai see for their preparations and services in the wedding, and the amount is shelled out by the groom and his best man. A bridesmaid doesn’t normally give a lai see to the couple.
A veteran wedding planner was quoted as saying in a Sky Post report on Thursday that the normal lai see for bridesmaids is about HK$200-300 each, although HK$500 is a more acceptable figure.
Angel Kwong, chief of Hong Kong Wedding Management Association, agrees that lai see is an unpleasant subject that should never be brought up in conversations, whether on the internet or elsewhere. The best wishes of friends matter more than the amount inside red packets, she says.
But Kwong admits that based on her vast experience in planning weddings, the issue is a major sticking point in one out of 20 weddings in Hong Kong, the report said.
“In some cases, the bridesmaids become picky and reluctant to help out after receiving a ‘small’ lai see,” she notes. “On the other hand, the bride is sometimes irritated if she sees the bridesmaids stealing the show by wearing sexy dresses.”
In some instances, best men and bridesmaids feel distraught if the couple forgets to buy them lunch or host an after-wedding party to thank them, Kwong says.
But should friendship be measured by those mundane things? Says one netizen: “If friends have to fight over lai see, then perhaps they deserve each other.”
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