After reading the article about post-wedding financial ruin, I am thinking non-Chinese couples may want to study the Chinese “system”. The system is simple, well-refined and brutally honest. Don’t invite people who give RM20 ang pows or bring a crowd-sourced rice cooker.
What’s the point of spending RM50k on a wedding banquet and you end with 50 recycled (re-wrapped) gifts. Of course, bankrupt lah.
Everything must be recouped and the P&L bottom line is the most important at the end of the wedding night. Not sex. Well, a loss can ruin the sex. Many couples just open up the red packets after the guests leave, count the cash and settle the restaurant bill with it there and then.
It is very practical as it reduces the risk of robbery on the way home. Some restaurants now provide a strong room to count the cash as robbers have struck at the source before.
To understand the psyche, one must understand why the Chinese refer to a wedding invitation as a “summons’. You pay what you eat. Plus pay a little extra so the couple can make a profit, after deducting the F&B bills.
There is an unwritten code of ethics; where you mentally work out the ang pow value base on the dinner venue. If you estimate the restaurant is charging RM 800 nett per table, you give RM 100 (minimum). There is a formula published in a 2000-year-old Chinese almanac somewhere, I think.
What the couple fear most is a bunch of raging alcoholic friends showing up and emptying the brandy bottles. The other type of guests they hate are those that pay for one pax but bring along a family with 5 kids.
If you go with a giant gift box thinking you look hipster or smart geeky, you are wrong. Every one else regard you as a cheapskate idiot. Nobody cares if you are long-time friend who has special knowledge of the couple’s aspired brand of air fryer. We all know you found the cheapest deal on Groupon.
Think you can get away with under-paying? Think again. There is always a reception table and someone from the groom’s side manning an accounts book. A relative from the bride’s side will be appointed auditor. I think the vote-counting system of many democratic countries copied this practice. Non-monetary gifts are hated because they screw up the system.
Every red packet will be opened on the spot, and the name and amount jotted down. It is important you write your name on the packet or it is considered a spoiled gift. I asked one couple why? They said it is to know how much to pay should they get invited by the guest in future.
For Chinese couples, a wedding reception is serious business and every guest knows that. Remember to add 10% to cover the 6% GST next year on.