19 January 2019
A cash gift (inset) is a form of greeting and it is, in fact, not a must. Photo: HKEJ
A cash gift (inset) is a form of greeting and it is, in fact, not a must. Photo: HKEJ

Bride tells guests how much to give as wedding gift

In a traditional Chinese wedding, guests give out cash gifts to express their good wishes for the newlyweds.

Perhaps there are some factors to consider in deciding how much to give, such as the income of the giver, how close they are to the couple or the venue of the wedding banquet. But always it’s the giver who determines the amount, and never, for decency’s sake, the recipients.

But in this amusing story that has gone viral on social media, the bride wanted to take a more active role on the matter: she listed down the things that she expected from the guests, including how much to give as a wedding present.

Netizen Winsonsingsing reveals his disturbing experience on the forum

He says he received an invitation to a wedding banquet from someone he regards as a stranger. The bride-to-be is a former colleague of her girlfriend, but he has never met her.

At first, he and his girlfriend decided to attend the banquet out of courtesy, and planned to give a combined cash gift of HK$1,500 (US$194).

But just days before the actual event, Winsonsingsing’s girlfriend received a surprising WhatsApp message from the girl. It’s a list of seven things that guests should pay attention to when attending her wedding banquet.

The list may be a product of the couple’s wish to ensure a perfect wedding banquet, and to solicit the guests’ cooperation in this regard. But Winsonsingsing just got furious upon reading Point No. 4. 

Here’s the full list:

1. Dress up nicely.

2. Since I have sent each of you and your boyfriend, an invitation card, you have to present your cash gifts separately. Hand them to the host (me) when you arrive. If you have other presents, please give them to me too. Write your name, my name and the greetings on them.

3. Write you name, my name and the greetings on the cash gift envelope as well for record purposes.

4. How much cash gift should you give depends on the reference price and how close you are to the new couple. But please be reminded that the bridesmaids will open the envelope on the spot, so it is recommended that you avoid giving an amount that is less than the reference price, which is HK$600, in order to avoid embarrassment.

5. Please arrive before the banquet starts at 5 p.m. to show your respect.

6. Please be seated according to the seating plan.

7. The bride and groom are expected to be extremely busy throughout the event so please don’t be shy and come forward if you want to take pictures with us.

In his post, Winsonsingsing notes that the list simply ruined his day, and asks if he should still attend the reception after reading the message. 

Needless to say, the list amused, if not shocked, those who read it. It also sparked debates as well as criticisms on the actuation of the couple. Some netizens started calling the girl a bitchy bride.

In Hong Kong’s wedding culture, there are some standards that may be followed in giving cash gifts. For example, the normal amount is HK$500 if the banquet is held in a Chinese restaurant and HK$800 if it is done in a hotel.

It’s a well-thought-out standard, actually. You see, if the banquet is held in a restaurant, the cost of each table (for 12 guests) is around HK$4,000 or HK$5,000, depending on the menu.

So if each guest pays around HK$500, the wedding banquet could break even and the newlyweds wouldn’t have to settle the bill with their own money.

Winsonsingsing says the banquet is to be held in an ordinary restaurant.

The original idea of a wedding banquet is to invite all members of both families and friends to share in the joy of the occasion.

By giving out cash gifts, the guests want to share the financial burden of the newlyweds out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s also their way of showing that they understand that the couple’s expenses will be large as they start building their own family.

As such, the cash gift is a form of wishing the couple the best. It is, in fact, not a must.

That’s why it is most inappropriate for the newlyweds to tell their guests how much they should give.

To cheer him up, some netizens advised Winsonsingsing to give this reply to the bride: “So sorry I can’t attend — maybe next time.”

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EJ Insight writer

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