updated 18 Jul 2013, 17:49
Login password
Mon, Feb 13, 2012
my paper
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Wedding hongbao guide for the clueless
by Sophie Hong

WHENEVER accountant Ryan Loh, 28, gets invited to a wedding reception, he checks with his friends to find out how much money he should put in the red packet, or hongbao, for the happy couple.

And if the banquet is at an upmarket hotel, he would give more.

Guests at Chinese wedding dinners traditionally give the newlyweds a hongbao as a gift.

It used to be that guests would check with older friends or relatives to prepare an appropriate amount but, of late, wedding sites and netizens have been uploading wedding hongbao rates, giving clueless adults another resource to use.

For instance, wedding portal Perfect Weddings, run by J2 Media Solutions, has drawn up a table listing the market rates for wedding hongbao.

The table, titled Wedding Ang Bao Market Rates 2012, contains a list of recommended amounts for 52 hotels popular with newlyweds.

It was posted on Perfect Weddings' website,, last month. The website also contains tips for couples who are planning a wedding.

Perfect Weddings' wedding hongbao table listing rates for last year and early this year has been making its rounds on social media and was posted on citizen-journalism website Stomp earlier this month.

A Perfect Weddings spokesman told my paper that the guide was created to let guests know the appropriate amounts to put in their red packets.

Many newly married couples the site consulted lamented about financial losses they incurred from hosting a wedding banquet.

"For example, a family of two parents and three teenagers may give a hongbao of only $250, but the actual cost for five people easily amounts to $100 per person, or a total of $500," said the spokesman.

Although many people turn to their parents or relatives for advice about how much money to give, they are advised to check the information with another source.

The spokesman said their relatives' inform- ation could be outdated, as older family mem- bers may not have kept abreast of current market rates.

"With inflation and rising costs, wedding banquets are getting more expensive to hold, so the difference in prices becomes magnified with time," said the spokesman.

Young adults my paper spoke to said they consider factors other than venues when deciding how much to give.

If she were to attend the wedding of a close friend, teacher Yeo Siok Ee, 26, said she would give at least $50 more.

Mr Loh said he would always make sure the final figure he gives contains the number eight. "The number is considered auspicious by the Chinese, so I use it to give my blessings to the newlyweds," he said.

Some also feel that hongbao should be given if a guest is unable to attend a wedding dinner after indicating earlier that he could.

Ms Lynette Tan, founder of wedding blog, said that in such cases, the amount given should be about 80 per cent of the going rate.

If a confirmation has been made, the wedding couple will still have to pay the full cost even if the guests do not turn up, she explained.

Ms Tan added that some believe that giving a hongbao despite a no-show shows that the guest was sincere about wanting to attend the dinner.

"Therefore, the hongbao cash should not be too little."

For more my paper stories click here.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.