4 Burning Questions Everyone Has About Giving Ang Pows At Weddings

“How much am I actually supposed to give?”

Cover image via AsiaOne

It’s no secret that attending weddings can burn quite a few holes in our pockets, especially when everyone you know is getting married at similar times

Image via Giphy

It's basically a matter of ‘saving face’ – give too little, and you might be considered stingy, give too much and you might end up broke during wedding season. It's no wonder, the term “kena saman” gets thrown around during this time.

Like any issue involving money, you might have some questions that you are too embarrassed to ask. Don't worry, we've got you covered:

1. “Why do we even give the couple money for their wedding?”

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Actualdayphotographer

The practice of giving money to the bride and groom is tradition in many cultures, including Malaysia. 

Monetary gifts have been long accepted as an appropriate gift for a newly married couple to use, whether it’s to cover their wedding expenses or for them to begin their new shared life together. 

It might be considered as a way of wishing the couple a great marriage ahead with a little token that may help them on their journey. 

2. “How much are we expected to give?”

While some couples expect their cash gifts to cover their wedding costs, others may not expect them to. But of course, it's a bonus if the monetary gifts manage to do so. 

With that said, you should consider how close you are to the bride and groom (amongst several other factors) when deciding how much to give

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Image via En Shahdi

It also depends on the wedding location, size, and what kind of food is served. The total costs of a wedding can be anything between RM10,000 to RM150,000 (possibly even more!).

If it’s held in a four- or five-star hotel with dinner, the wedding would probably cost more than, let’s say, a ‘simple’ catered buffet in a small café. 

If you bring a plus one or family, it is advisable to cover the costs of each member. According to some couples, a nice minimum amount to receive would be RM150 to RM200 per guest for restaurant dinners, and RM250 onwards for hotel dinners.*

*Disclaimer: Of course, this still depends on how close you are to the couple, which hotel, and what food is served. For example, in some cultures, it is normal to not write the guest's name on the envelope and to quietly slip it into the parents' hands as you leave, but for others it is a common practice to write your name.

3. “Is it compulsory to give monetary gifts to the couple?”

There is often an unspoken expectation for monetary gifts as couples may try to cover their costs with the cash they receive back from guests. 

However, in a local forum, some people have expressed their disdain for weddings in which monetary gifts were compulsory.

It may be a long-standing tradition, but some pointed out that if the couple cannot afford to pay for their own wedding, they probably shouldn’t be getting married in the first place

One forummer said, “It is expected in Chinese culture for guests to bring an appropriate ang pow suitable to the expected expense of the wedding dinner, within reason and means. 

There is no ang pow obligation but it is not license to throw in 10 bucks and eat an eight course meal for next to nothing. Obviously in any family there will be some poor aunt somewhere who simply cannot afford to buy a large dinner.”

Another said, “If we had to give the equivalent of the price of our food; perhaps the wedding should have been a pay-your-own-outing at a restaurant. We could all order a la carte meals and split the bill.”

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Image via Pinterest

“I think it’s an insult to my daughter if a guest came for her wedding in a hotel and gave any less than RM100. We don’t, like some families, expect the ang pows to pay for the wedding but a decent token amount shouldn’t be too much to ask,” one mother, who prefers to remain anonymous, shared with RinggitPlus.

The woman’s daughter, however, did not agree. “I just want my friends to have a good time. If they give me something that’s great but even if they didn’t; I’d be happy to have them there.”

4. “Is it cheapskate to give gifts instead of cash?”

Monetary gifts have become the widely accepted route in case the couple ends up receiving the same items from different guests. For example: 

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Image via Hiveminer

In some wedding invitations, it is stated if the couple would prefer cash over gifts. However, if you truly know the couple and what they will appreciate, giving gifts may be an alternative solution instead of money.

Weddings are meant to be a celebration of a newly married couple – an important day to be shared with loved ones. At the end of the day, your presence should be what matters.

There's a reason why the couple put you on the guest list after all!

What do you think is a suitable amount to give to a newly-wedded couple? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

If you're attending a wedding for the first time, or you simply need a refresher, here are some things to take note of: