I have been summoned to attend a wedding dinner. (in Chinese, this means being given a wedding invitation card with your name on it). I used to receive this summons a lot during my 20s when lots of friends were being wed. I still got them in my 30s but its dwindled a lot by now.

Receiving one of these things often puts me in a dilemma. Though Chinese, I don’t really know what is the “cultural” expectations. In other words, I don’t know what to do lah.

So what is the expectation, can someone please tell me? What is the standard? There is KL standard etc etc. The Chinese must protect their own “face” so they often give in to this “ransom” for money angpow and apparently there are certain standards to comply to (meaning a minimum amount to give) irrespective of whether you attend the wedding dinner or not. Comply to these standards or forever be known as a miser or stingy poker.

So what is the standard? I have my own theory. To me, if I get this summons from someone close to me, I would give them something irrespective of whether I attend or not. If I attend, I would make sure that I at least pay over and above the cost of my dinner so that my friend won’t have to pay for me to attend their dinner. If I can’t make it to the dinner, I would give my friend something too because I want to, not because I am obliged to.

This is probably the same reasoning why people are expected to pay more give a bigger angpow when attending a dinner in a hotel compared to a dinner at a Chinese Restaurant for example.

Once, I received this summons from a colleague on another floor which I hardly know. I did the unthinkable. I chose to ignore it. I did not pay up the summons lah. Some say that is very rude. Aiyah, so many rules one. If you receive it from a subordinate, you must pay more, if you receive it from your superior, less etc etc. To me, I hardly know you, so why should I be held ransom? But some say must at least give a token lah blah blah blah.

On the other hand, if you are the wedding couple, handing out this summons can also give you headache. You have to plan your seating arrangement and number of attendees so that you don’t explode your budget or run out of food or seating places but sometimes you invite just one person and that person brings a legion of relatives. Sometimes you’re not sure whether its “nice” to just invite someone without inviting their spouses etc etc. More rules again.

There are also rules in giving out the angpow. Apparently you can put it in the same envelope that you receive together with the summons so that the wedding party immediately knows who its from since your name is written on it. Is that right? I’m also not sure about this practise.

So many rules makes me pening kepala. So what is the standard? If you are not attending? Must give ah? How much to give huh? If its addressed to you and your spouse, must give double ah? How much to give if its your subordinate or superior leh?


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  1. Rachel says:

    To me I will pay whether attend or not, but how much is not the important, is only ‘sam yee’. If I am invited means he/she remember me and treated me as friend, so I think I shall congrates them by return whether money or gift.
    But, I understand that some people who like to spread the summon to everyone in the motive to get return, some people will think to earn money from wedding dinner. I experienced once the bridal pass me summon and the groom also pass me summon in the same wedding, what I do is, I thanks them to threated me as friends cos passing me double summons, they feel embarrassing.:)

    Unfortunately some people these days invite you not because of sum yee or because they thought of you but because they want your angpow but you can usually tell those from the sum yee one I suppose.

  2. Immomsdaughter says:

    Like Rachel, 99% of the time, I will pay ransom even if I don’t attend. The 1% is for those are who obviously trying to earn $$$ from the function 😛

    Yes, I guess its the same for us but how much ransom to pay is the question. Hehe.

  3. Kerry says:

    As for us, we only attend close friends and relatives wedding and we usually give RM 200 – RM 300 for both of us depends on how close we are. Relative’s ‘ransom’ are usually paid by our parents. (We are lucky, :P)

    We avoid going to acquaintance’s wedding and just because we RSVP them way before they mailed us the ‘red bomb’, we assumed they do not include our seats in the dinner, therefore we do not pay the ransom.

    I’m not sure if our RSVP mentality is a good or bad thing but we are doing this all the time.

    I guess because of this we do not get many ‘red bombs’ unless from very close friends.

    Eh? How do you RSVP BEFORE you receive the red bomb????

  4. mott says:

    I won’t pay if I’m not going.
    I pay double if suami drags along.
    I pay more if good friend.
    I pay less if it’s in a village restaurant.
    No gifts. Just angpow…with my name written big big on it.

    Ppl shud be grateful for ur attendance and some token. Heck care if they’re not! 😉

    Hahaha. You almost look like you are writing a rhyme there.

  5. Kerry says:

    News travel fast exp GOOD news like this. Somehow, people we knew have the tendency of informing via SMS first and of course to ask for our address lar coz we just moved to a new place (Not new also lar, 2 years already) Haha… That’s when we RSVP lor… LOL…

    Hahaha. Good tactic.

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