Singaporebrides | Essentials

January 2018

All the Awkward Questions on Wedding Ang Bao Rates You Were Too Afraid to Ask

Figuring out how much to give can get awkward. We asked the SingaporeBrides and SingaporeMotherhood teams about their wedding ang bao giving practices to get you started.

With weddings in Singapore getting more unconventional and intimate, you might be wondering how to prepare your wedding ang bao. From guests wondering about destination weddings to couples thinking about how much to give their wedding helpers, we’ve got all your awkward questions on wedding ang bao rates covered.

The important thing to remember is, when a couple invites you to celebrate their big day, they are appreciating you for being a part of their lives and their journey, and want you to witness their new milestone and celebrate with them. They’ll appreciate your presence and sincere blessings no matter your wedding ang bao amount. Ultimately, your gifts should always come from the heart!

Wedding Ang Bao Questions from Guests

1. “I’m attending a friend’s wedding. How should I calculate the wedding ang bao market rates?”

Wedding ang bao are traditionally gifts of blessing to the newlyweds, to congratulate them and wish them joy. It’s definitely not a must to adhere to market rates when preparing your gift, although many practical Singaporean guests do so to help couples get off to a good start in their new chapter. “I would refer to our wedding banquet pricelist, then mark up another 10-20% and round up to a nice and auspicious figure,” shares Mae Phua, 41, Sales, about how she decides on an amount to give. Guests who will be seated at Muslim- or vegetarian-catered tables can use the guide too.

How much you give also reflects your relationship to the couple; the closer you are, the more you are happier to give. “The closer the friend, the higher the amount,” says Mae. For very close friends, I wouldn’t check but would give a safe amount like $200 or $288, depending on the venue.”

“For close friends, I would give more, or may double the hotel’s table rate,” shares Janis Heng, 41, Business Manager. Ultimately, your wedding ang bao is given to bless and wish your friends or family well, and whatever amount you choose, your ang bao should be given with sincerity and joy, and not so you don’t “lose face” about not “paying” for your seat.

2. “My friends have invited me to an ROM ceremony/a church wedding and a dinner banquet. Must I give wedding ang bao for both events?”

Many couples hold an ROM ceremony right before their dinner banquet, or exchange their vows in a church wedding followed by a dinner banquet. For such events, most people gift a single wedding ang bao. “I’d only give ang bao during dinner,” says Janis, and Tan Siew Kiang, 24, Webmaster, agrees. If the events are spread over a period of time, you could consider giving a gift for the ROM ceremony and then an ang bao for the wedding dinner later on, as Mae suggests: “For an ROM ceremony or a church wedding, I would get a gift, such as a floral bouquet, and give an ang bao for the dinner banquet.”

Caiyun and Terence’s Gorgeous, Romantic Wedding at Montigo Resorts Nongsa by SVK Studio

3. “How much wedding ang bao should I give for a destination wedding?”

Destination weddings are usually kept small and intimate, so if you’re invited to one, you must be close to the couple! As an old friend, or close family, the destination shouldn’t affect your decision about how much to bless the newlyweds. “I’d give the same amount as for a local wedding,” says Janis.

However, if the couple is sponsoring your flight and accommodation, you should give extra to appreciate their thoughtfulness. “It really depends on the location and if the couple expended on my attendance like on accommodation and airfare,” shares Mae. “Usually, we get invited for destination weddings by relatives only, so the amount will be higher too.”

4. “I confirmed my attendance at a wedding, but something turned up and I can’t go after all. Do I need to give them an ang bao?”

“Yes, I would still give them an ang bao according to hotel rates as my seat has already been confirmed,” says Siew Kiang, and Janis and Mae agree. Sometimes, things are just out of your control, and you fall sick or there is an emergency, and you simply can’t make it to a wedding. As the couple has prepared for your presence at their wedding, a gift would be appreciated.

5. “I can’t make it for a wedding, and I’ve already sent my regrets to the couple well in advance. Should I still give them a wedding ang bao?”

“Yes, I would still give an ang bao, albeit a smaller amount,” says Mae. Most couples won’t expect you to give a wedding ang bao if you’ve already RSVP’d your regrets well in advance, however, guests who want to express their well wishes gift an ang bao anyway.

Alternatively, send the couple a card or a physical present to congratulate them and share in their joy.

Diana and Sufiyan’s Gorgeous Engagement Session and Blush and Green Wedding by Colossal Weddings

6. “Do I give wedding ang bao when I attend a Malay wedding?”

At Malay weddings, ang bao are appreciated as blessings. Most people gift according to the wedding venue. Bob Mubarak, 37, Business Manager, tells us, “Recommended figures are $10-$30 for weddings held at a void deck, $30-$50 for weddings in a country club, and $50-$80 for hotel weddings.”

7. “How much should I give when preparing a wedding ang bao for a solemnisation or ROM ceremony?”

As always, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to giving an ang bao for a solemnisation or an ROM ceremony. “If there is no wedding lunch or dinner after the ceremony, I would give about $50-$80, depending on how close I am to the couple,” says Siew Kiang. Janis suggests buying a small gift instead of giving a wedding ang bao. “However, if the couple doesn’t intend to hold a wedding banquet, then I would give an ang bao according to hotel rates,” she says.

You can prepare a gift in view of the venue and the type of refreshments served. For example, a solemnisation followed by canapés in a restaurant would cost upwards of $35++ per guest, while a ceremony followed by a sit-down meal would cost in the $100-$200 range.

8. “How much should I give when attending a wedding at a restaurant or an alternative venue?”

Many alternative wedding venues these days cost about the same as a wedding banquet, with lunches ranging from $90++ to $200++ per guest for four-course sit-down meals in fine dining venues. Typically, buffet meals cost less than sit-down courses, and add-ons such as alcohol or a dessert table spread can rack up the spending. Luncheons usually cost less than dinners as well, and many venues put higher minimum spend amounts for evening celebrations and weekend weddings.

“The first thing I’ll do is check the restaurant’s table rates online, take the total cost per table of 10, add GST and service charge, then divide by 10,” says Siew Kiang. “If it’s a closer friend, I would give more.” If you’d like to check out restaurant rates, take a look at our alternative wedding venue pricelists.

Tabitha and Marc’s Modern Oriental Wedding at Peony Jade at Keppel Club by Annabel Law Productions

9. “How much wedding ang bao should I prepare for a church wedding?”

While church wedding venues do not always charge for use of their venue, couples usually cater a lunch or high tea for their guests after the wedding ceremony. Buffet spreads held within the church premises can range from $15 to $80 per guest. “I would give $50 – $80, depending on how close I am to the couple,” shares Siew Kiang. If you’re adjourning to a restaurant or a hotel for lunch or dinner, you might like to consider that venue’s rates instead.

10. “What are auspicious figures to give in a wedding ang bao?”

For Chinese weddings, it’s common to give amounts ending with the number “8” as it’s considered an auspicious number. “$88, $108, $168, $188, $208, $228, and $288,” Mae and Siew Kiang suggest as auspicious figures. Conversely, the number “4” should be avoided, as it sounds phonetically the same as the word for “death” and is considered unlucky. Odd numbers should be avoided as well. At Indian weddings, it’s auspicious to give amounts ending in “1”.

Wedding Ang Bao Questions from Couples

11. “How much wedding ang bao should I give my bridesmaids and groomsmen?”

The amount you gift should reflect your appreciation for how your bridesmaids and groomsmen made your wedding more special. Consider the time they’ve spent helping you out, their involvement in the wedding, whether they’ve spent a lot of money on petrol driving people around on your wedding day, whether they shelled out for outfits to match your wedding theme, or whether they’re performing special duties like emceeing on your wedding. While they’re not looking for “payment,” your wedding ang bao will make your bridesmaids and groomsmen feel appreciated. As a guide, our married team members suggest giving $20-$88 each.

Shopback Co-Founder Joel and Bena’s Teal, Purple, and White Wedding in Grand Hyatt Singapore by My Dream Wedding

12. “We’re having a traditional Chinese gatecrash. What ang bao should the groom prepare?”

When the groom “fetches” the bride on the morning of the wedding, he and his band of brothers are customarily required to go through a series of gatecrash challenges, and pave the way to the bride’s door with wedding ang bao, which are collected by the bridesmaids. “Prepare a hefty stack in various denominations,” advises June Wan, 44, Editor or SingaporeMotherhood. Part of the fun is for the bridesmaids to ask for increasingly larger sums of money, so smart grooms will begin their “bargaining” with smaller ang bao. The bridesmaids traditionally split the money from the gatecrash ang bao. While total amounts recommended online range from $288 to $1,088, always give an amount you’re comfortable with!

Don’t forget that there will be other people you’ll be giving ang bao to during the gatecrash. “Prepare ang bao for the little boy who opens the bridal car door, and the ‘auntie’ who conducts your tea ceremony,” says Mae.

13. “How many ang bao do we need to prepare for our wedding day?”

There are a lot of people you’ll be handing out red packets to on your wedding day. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen, other wedding helpers such as your emcee, reception table helpers, ushers, page boys, flower girls, as well as wedding vendors such as your banquet manager, photographer, videographer, makeup artist, wedding coordinator, solemniser—the list is a long one. Keep things organised by preparing all of your wedding ang bao in advance, and writing the names of the recipients on the red packets. Bring extra ones on your wedding day just in case you missed someone out!

“Prepare more than you think you need,” says June. “You never know who you may need to give one to, for example, the altar boys at the church, church helpers, cleaners, wait staff, etc.”

14. “Who should keep the wedding ang bao from the banquet—us or our parents?”

“It depends on who paid for the banquet,” says Mae. In traditional Chinese culture, the groom’s parents would host and pay for the wedding, so they would keep the ang bao. If they gift a certain number of tables to the bride’s parents as part of the betrothal gift, the bride’s parents would get to keep the ang bao given by their guests.

These days, most couples opt to pay for their own weddings, so the couple would keep the ang bao themselves. “If you are paying for the entire wedding yourselves, you should keep the ang bao,” says June. “However, you should also give your parents a good ang bao each.” “Parents should also keep the ang bao given to them by relatives and friends,” adds Janis.

Prithi and Pravin’s Beautiful Intimate Wedding at Lewin Terrace by WhiteLink Bridal

15. “What ang bao should we give during the tea ceremony?”

If you have younger siblings or relatives serving you tea during your tea ceremony, it’s customary to give them an ang bao each. How much you give is up to you, although many tea ceremony ang bao contain smaller amounts. “Any of the auspicious denominations, such as $38, $88, $138, would do,” says June.

16. “We’re already paying for our vendors’ services. Should we still give them ang bao?”

Our team says yes. “It doesn’t have to be a large sum,” says June. “It’s a gesture of appreciation.” Many couples like to give vendors a little token of appreciation on top of their fees, or if you’re really happy with their service, you might like to gift them a larger amount. Solemnisers, however, are volunteers who do not charge a fee. An angbao expresses your appreciation for their time and service.


Credits: Feature image from Peipei and Keat’s Fun LEGO Wedding at Da Paolo Bistro Park on Rochester Park by Glen Sin’s Photography.

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