The Straits Times
Published on Nov 12, 2012
Come to my wedding, but pay first
Hongbao please, and here is the 'love offering' list which you must pay upfront to attend
By JEREMY AU YONG
It's the year-end wedding season again and you know what that means - it is time for the annual Jaytalking wedding advice column.
This year I want to talk about the sensitive topic of hongbao, specifically, how to ensure that your wedding guests don't shortchange you.
I became interested in this topic because of a Facebook post that made the rounds last week, featuring a newlywed trying to ask one of her guests for money, mustering together all the tact of a loan- shark runner.
A simple summary cannot do this post justice, so I thought I should reproduce it here in all its ungrammatical glory.
"Hey, my hubby and I checked through our red packets for our wedding dinner which you attended but we did not see any from you. Did you wrote your name on yours for our matrimony? In the event you can't give a love offering due to unforeseen circumstances, it is basic courtesy to let us know as my family were counting against the guest list but did not see yours."
In a way, she deserves some credit being an all-action type of person. Most people who discover that they have come up short on "love offerings" will just suck it up, chalking it up as a loss while making a permanent mental note to return the favour if the cheapskate ever gets married.
But not this woman, she knows what she wants and she is not afraid to ask for it. Social graces be damned.
And she does raise a good question. Is this unspoken Chinese wedding social contract still relevant today? Do we still need to pretend that there isn't just a little bit of it that is transactional? It just seems to me that the more we try to ignore it, the more prominent a part of the whole process it becomes.
Look at how they do this in Western cultures. They wear capitalism on their sleeves. Though they don't deal with cash, they set up something called a gift registry.
People go to a shop, pick out the gifts they would like and then mail the list to their friends.
This is akin to openly demanding that your friends buy you a wedding gift and then specifying the minimum amount they should spend. And yet, nobody finds it rude.
So I figure we too can try to be as bold. For instance, as someone online suggested, let's start selling tickets. This can make the whole process more predictable for everyone and save any risk of hurt feelings.
To help in this process, I have drafted a new wedding invite that includes monetary requests in a tactful and polite manner. Feel free to use it.
To whom it may concern
Re: The wedding of Lance and Hannah
The proud parents of Lance and Hannah would hereby like to cordially invite you to the joyous wedding of the aforementioned couple. They will be joined in matrimony on Nov 22, 2012, in the La Grand International Royal Villa Regency Suites Resort And Spa at 8pm (give or take 45 minutes).
As you may well be aware, the La Grand International Royal Villa Regency Suites Resort And Spa is an upmarket luxurious location where banquets often demand top dollar.
It is our priority that all our guests have a good time at this joyous celebration and as such, we want to make sure they will be getting an experience that matches the magnitude of their "love offering".
We are therefore offering our valued guests a four-tier "love offering" package. Feel free to select one that best reflects your budget, how much our friendship means to you and how much you love us.
The Diamond Platinum Maximum Love package (Love offering $5,000)
This package includes:
- A seat at the head table or a table of equivalent status
- A 13-course meal including all available seafood options, such as shark's fin, abalone and a small lobster
- Top-level priority for photo-taking with the bride and groom
- Access to the express queue for exit handshaking
- Special mention in the wedding speech
- A personalised hand-written thank- you card
- Free flow of alcohol all night
(Special bonus for the first two Maximum Love guests: You may choose the name of our first-born child)
Package 2: Golden Fondness package (Love offering $250)
- A seat at a table numbered 10 and below. You are guaranteed an unobstructed view of the main table and subsequent cheesy video
- 10-course top quality meal. Please select one seafood item from column A, one meat item from column B and one dessert from column C from the attached menu
- The DJ will play two songs of your choice
Package 3: Cubic Zirconia Basic Acquaintance package (Love offering $100)
- A seat
- Seven-course meal with special "mystery meat" dish
- One parking coupon
Package 4: Aluminium No-frills, Don't Know If The Marriage Will Last package (Love offering $38)
- Free standing (extra $10 for a chair)
- One glass of wine (additional glasses will be charged at $12 each)
- One take-away packet of economy rice (Two vegetables, one meat. For extra meat dish, please add $3)
Seats (or standing room) are limited for each category and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We accept all major credit cards.
We look forward to your presence at our happy occasion.
Copyright © 2012 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.