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Re-thinking Our Wedding Ang Bao Culture in Singapore

You know what’s killing relationships and weddings in Singapore?

It’s the Ang Bao aka Red Packet.

You see, a long time ago, the wedding Ang Bao culture started off with good intentions; a blessing from guests containing a small amount of money as token for luck and gratitude to the bride and groom.

Somewhere along the line, it evolved into some hybrid form of compensation to help the wedding couple offset their expenses incurred at a wedding banquet. And then, to enforce the ‘reimbursement’, guests were expected to write their names on the back of the red packet as a proof of payment.

The Terrifying Ang Bao Rate Cards

Re-thinking Our Wedding Ang Bao Culture in Singapore - Terrified Chinese Man
Photo Credit: tiffanyyong.com

In fact, there are even yearly ‘Rate Cards’ published on the internet with guidelines on how much cash you ought to put inside your Ang Bao! Taking things to a higher level, some even show matrixes on kinship and venues of the wedding, so as to justify how big a red packet should be.

I view these wedding Ang Bao rates with disdain. Not only do they cheapen a significant moment in one’s life, it reduces a beautiful wedding into nothing more than ticketed event.

Really. Is that what we’ve degenerated into? That our attendance and kinship are measured with the dollar value attached to a petrifying 8cm x 16cm red envelope?

Wedding Ang Bao Money Killing Relationships


Photo Credit: Pinterest.com by Yiling Ang

I have heard of some who take it rather seriously. Take for example, this comment was found on a public forum:

“…came the wedding night, this couple (a lawyer and senior manager SIA wife) brought along a teenage daughter. My parents were shocked when they opened the red packet to find only $100. 3 persons attending a wedding dinner at the prestigious Marina Sands having the cheek to place $100 sheepishly into the red packet! Are they that low class to take advantage of their relatives? Suay to have such free loader relatives, still cannot get over this episode of my important day in life.”

So what if a friend, a relative or a family of 3 gives $100? Are we going to loathe these people? Do we severe ties with them?

If you want to hold penny-pinching arguments, they could also tell you that their time spent to attend your wedding costs money too…they could easily not turn up. Make sense?

Do you see how the wedding Ang Bao culture is killing our relationships?

It’s About The Ang Bao Stupid

Re-thinking Our Wedding Ang Bao Culture in Singapore - Limpeh Clap For You
Photo Credit: memecreator.eu

I’m sure most of you have experienced out-of-the-blue calls from “friends” or “acquaintances” whom you’ve not heard from in years, and suddenly found yourself cordially invited to a wedding dinner.

That’s pretty much my dilemma too. No offence but usually, I tend to turn down such wedding invitations from people I haven’t seen or heard from in a long time.

Deep down, I know why I’m being invited. But I also don’t want it to sound like I’m sending another typical message by the reject.

Lavish Wedding? I Really Don’t Care

Re-thinking Our Wedding Ang Bao Culture in Singapore - Dancing Korean Girls
Photo Credit: scmp.com

I don’t speak for everyone else but in my humble opinion, no one should be expected to finance anyone’s wedding. If a couple decides to throw a lavish wedding at a plush location, go right ahead. It’s their prerogative.

I really don’t care if a wedding is held at the roof top of Marina Bay Sands, or if the bride and groom makes a grand entry in a helicopter – with fireworks bursting to the tune of the wedding march.

It doesn’t matter if they are my family members, good friends or colleagues. My Ang Bao rates will be based on how I see our relationship is worth.

If anyone feels I’ve fell short of expectations and think less of me thereafter, well then I would probably have one less individual to deal with in my life.

Throwing Money At The Wedding

Re-thinking Our Wedding Ang Bao Culture in Singapore - Stash of Singapore Dollar Notes

I happen to be one who doesn’t think it’s a do or die thing for a couple to throw obscene money at expensive wedding dinners, and all the explicit extravagance. Many other restaurants do hold good events and also serve quality food at a much more reasonable cost.

In case we forgot, a wedding is a private affair between you and your spouse. You invite family and friends to celebrate the joyous occasion, share the happiness and to receive their blessings for the next phase of your life.

You’re not doing a gala dinner, mind you. Guests do not need to refer to the internet for “guidelines” on how much your wedding dinner is worth.

The first thing we should do… is to show our relatives and friends that the amount of money inside the wedding Ang Bao is not what dictates your relationship (Should be reasonable la). Let’s begin to bring back honesty, romance and happiness back to our weddings in Singapore.

Benjamin is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He is also a private student of law with the University of London.