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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wedding Ang Pow Guide 2010

I found this wedding ang pow guide from 8 Days magazine (Oct 7 2010; the one with Jacelyn Tay's wedding on the cover) really useful. I hope that my local blog readers who don't read 8 Days would find this useful too. For my clueless non-Chinese international readers, giving a red packet (ang pow) with a token sum is imperative when attending a Chinese wedding. Ah, you learn something new today! =)


The information is extracted from the magazine with minor expressions changed while trying to retain its sense of humour. Words which are of my own are indicated clearly in brown italics.

Venue & type:
Atas coz it's new or kinda new

For example:
Marina Bay Sands, Capella Singapore, St Regis Singapore

How much to give per person:
(as it costs about $1700 per table)


Venue & type:
5-star hotel acting like 6

For example:
Fullerton, Mandarin Oriental, Resorts World Convention Centre, Ritz Carlton, Shangri-la

How much to give per person:
$130 -- $160


Venue & type:
5-star hotel

For example:
Conrad Centennial, Four Seasons, Fullerton Bay Hotel, Marriott, Grand Hyatt, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Pan Pacific

How much to give per person:
$100 -- 130


Venue & type:
4-star hotel

For example:
Furama Riverfront, Parkroyal on Beach Road

How much to give per person:
$80 -- $100


Venue & type:
Lunch reception

For example:
church buffet, hotel buffet

How much to give per person:
$60 -- $80 (catered buffet)
$80 -- $100 (hotel buffet) *

*Jo's views:
I've had friends holding wedding luncheons at hotels and such luncheons could cost as much as the dinner banquets. Not many people know this and make the mistake of giving too little. With that, I reckon it would be better for you to find out the rates and give accordingly if you're the kind who follows the "market rate".


Venue & type:
Chinese restaurant

For example:
restaurants under Tung Lok group

How much to give per person:
$70 -- $80


Venue & type:

For example:
non-chinese restaurants or a rented venue with sit-down western meal

How much to give per person:
$100 -- $120
(These are generally ala carte, not package deals, which rack up costs)


Further notes

  1. The above rates are based on banquets held from Friday to Sunday which is considered as prime period and thus more expensive.

  2. Many hotels have a wide price range. The Ritz Carlton for example, has tables costing from $1300 -- $1500. Since there is no way of knowing if a wedding couple has opted for high or low-end menu, the calculations above are based on an average. Whether you want to give a bigger ang pow or smaller one depends on your reationship with the couple and your um... generosity.

  3. For the very kiasu/ kiasi, call the hotel to ask for rates when you get your invitation cards. Prices are based on estimates; please take this guide with a pinch of soya sauce.

Variable factors

Wedding is on Mon--Thur:
Give 90% - 95% of the weekend rate.

An immediate family or BFF:
Add 50%.

A hated sibling or frenemy:
Subtract $50 but add $20 for his/ her other half since they're doing you a favour by extracting that person from your life.

The wedding couple gave you peanuts for your wedding:
Return the favour but check the inflation rate. Upgrade from cashews to macademia if necessary.

You're obviously a last minute, seat-filler:
Deduct 30% and make sure you eat more

You RSVP-ed but can't make it at the last minute:
Give the full amount -- ask a friend to deposit an ang pow on your behalf

It's the wedding of your ex who got away:
Don't go. Add 50%, then send an ang pow as above. Keep yourself very occupied that night

It's the wedding of your ex who cheated on you:
Go but give nothing


Other Things to Know

What inflation?

We expected prices to have gone up this year. Surprisingly, they mostly stayed the same

$150 is the magic number
As a general rule, give at least $150. Anything below that might not cover for a wedding dinner at a decent hotel, once you throw in other things such as photography, a good wedding band, and the premium tipper.

Write your name
According to Chinese tradition, you're required to write your name on your ang pow, say wedding planners. It's also nice to write a simple wish, such as "Congrats! This is the end of your life as you know it."
Don't think about slipping that anonymous red packet into the box at reception -- we know brides who go through the ang pows and check who gave how much. She'll either think you didn't give an ang pow, or figure out you're the one who gave the paltry 50 bucks.

Jo's views:
Since I'm at the age when people around me are all getting married, it would be good to use this as a rough gauge of how much to 包 for the wedding couple.

Of course, some of you may argue that it is the obligation for the couple to throw a banquet and they should not be expecting the guests to help cover their costs/losses (whichever way you want to term it). However, I always believe that we should "懂得做人" and try as much as possible to help the couple cover their costs for at least the banquet portion.

I do take into consideration the financial status of the couple too. If they're rich enough and could afford to throw their wedding at a 6-star hotel that costs a lot per head, I feel that guests are not expected to give accordingly to cover their costs for the banquet. Similarly, if a less well-to-do couple hold their banquet at a Chinese restaurant or even cater for buffet in their homes, I wouldn't simply follow the rate but to give more to them instead. Of course, relationship with either of the couple counts so I tend to give more for good friends too.

I know of friends who have to attend so many weddings in a year that they think they would go quite broke should they follow the market rate so closely. In cases like this, I would always suggest giving within your means and not to worry so much coz really, it's the thought that counts.


  1. well written cuz. haha. which is really helpful, too.

    p/s: still haven't gotten photos (from zayden's party) from sis yet.

  2. OMG! You're really fast, and why are you still awake at 4am? Haha... well-written but majority of it isn't by me. =(

    Oh, it's ok. Take your time, when it's time for me to update September then I'll bug you again. =) =) =)

  3. {*OMG!!... *WOW} I never knew it cost that much for a wedding banquet.

    It took me awhile to understand what "ang pow" was until I read your note. I usually pronounce it as "hong boa"; I speak Cantonese and understand a little bit of Mandarin. {*hehe}

    This was very VERY informative. I'm sure this will come handy when my friends start getting married. {*AHH!} It's crazy to think that a lot of my friends are around that age group already.

    <3s Serena.

  4. *Heh* I'm not too sure if the same rates apply to California. Do the people around you hold such Chinese wedding banquets?

    Yup, "hong bao" in Mandarin and "ang Pow" is in Hokkien and/or Teochew. How do you say it in Cantonese? I love how beautiful Cantonese sounds!

  5. That's interesting. I've heard about the red packets for Chinese New Year, but didn't know about the wedding tradition.

    The last time I was invited to a wedding, I knew they didn't expect em to show up--they just wanted a check. So I went to the wedding and gave them a toaster oven instead of money. LOL

  6. Yup, for us Chinese, red packets replace many things. It could be given out during Chinese New Year. It could be given during weddings. It could be given as birthday gift to elders or even to babies first birthday as money is the most practical gift. However, to keep up with modernity, red packets have evolved aesthetically to include pink, maroon, gold etc though we still term them as "red packets".

    How horrid of the couple to invite you just for the cheque! You did the right thing. Haha... Tho I dunno if you're on their backlist after that incident.


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