The Cost Of Admission To My Wedding Is At Least $65.00

by admin on December 25, 2012

A Hong Kong bride posts on Facebook a declaration that if her guests cannot give her a cash wedding gift of at least $65.00, to not bother coming to the wedding. This went viral with not only her identity and photograph revealed but also her fiance and friends. Over 1000 people have declared their intention to “protest” at her wedding venue. Read the full story here.

THis raises several interesting issues regarding the Asian custom of guest giving packets of cash as a wedding gift and the societal expectation upon guests to do so.   The article states that it is customary for family to stand by the door and receive these cash gifts as guests enter the wedding venue which certainly bringsto mind the concept that these cash gifts are really the entrance fee to attend the wedding.   If the cultural expectation is that a cash gift is expected, then what happens when a guest attempts to enter the wedding venue without one?  More likely, the cultural pressure is there to make sure no one gets into the wedding venue without cash lest they appear to be stingy.

The bride’s obvious disdain for her guests and prioritization of cash over relationships is rather disturbing and made more so by the fact that she had the audacity to publish her views on Facebook.  The Internet didn’t take kindly to that and sought to inflict their own version of peer pressure on her in the form of cyberbullying.   I would have unfriended her and declined to attend the wedding thus preferring to leave her to the cold realities of my own personal social ostracizing.  But my actions are not likely to make much of a cultural change whereas the collective social disdain of hundreds will assuredly inhibition future expressions of greed by brides and grooms on social media.  1221-12

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Yasuragi December 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I’ve lived in Asia for years. It really makes me sigh when I listen to someone bemoan the money obsessed consumerism in America. If you really want to see money obsession spend some time in Asia.

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AMC December 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Protesting a wedding is over-the-top and unnecessary, as abhorrent and entitled as the bride’s comments were. Her guests simply choosing to decline the invite and not give any money at all would’ve been sufficient punishment.

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crella December 26, 2012 at 3:52 am

In Japan at least,it goes back to the time when commoners (non-samurai, those not of the ruling class) were very poor. Whenever there was a wedding or funeral, the village would pool its resources and the family would put on the wedding or funeral. One household could not do it themselves.

The custom lingers, and without a doubt some families are still helped by it, but it’s just a tradition for most. Whether it be a wedding or a funeral, a table is set up outside the banquet room or viewing room (or home if the funeral is held at home) and there are those in charge of registering attendees, watching the money envelopes and the guest books, which are then turned over to the family afterwards. After a wedding, guests get a return gift of about 1/2 the value of the gift of money they gave, and those who gave incense money at a funeral receive a gift equal to 1/3 of what they gave. Wedding return gifts (hikkidemono) range from fancy cookies to crystal glass sets or vases. Funeral return gifts (okoden gaeshi) were traditionally things that you use up or wear out, like towels, so that no reminder of the sad occasion remained, but the gift protocol was honored. Lately though, you sometimes receive a catalogue to choose from.

With Japanese houses and apartments as small and cramped as they are, the idea of getting a lot of wedding gifts is not all that appealing. There isn’t an established custom of sets of china or crystal, and many kitchens don’t have room for more than a microwave, toaster and rice cooker. The money gifts work in this culture, despite how it looks from a western viewpoint.

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Lynne December 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

Thanks for sharing this concept of return gifts. Had never heard of them, and it fascinated me.

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crella December 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm

You’re welcome.

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crella December 26, 2012 at 3:59 am

(that being said, the bride was extremely ill-mannered to demand a certain amount)

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Lo December 26, 2012 at 7:57 am

There is nothing wrong with the culture.

Entitlement is everywhere. She’s just another one of those greedy people who can be found anywhere on earth, wielding entitlement like a weapon and using the thin disguise of social morays to assist her. No truly polite person in her own culture would ever made such a statement.

Furthermore, shouldn’t these protestors be putting their power to better use? She’s a real piece of work but protesting her wedding is a form of bullying.

Don’t do it at your own wedding, don’t attend the wedding of someone so rude. Problem solved.

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akaCat December 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

It sounds like the bride is a bit of a spoiled brat who was never taught any manners. I wonder what her parents are like.

But anyone who protests her wedding is just as bad. Their actions will affect the entire wedding party, all of the wedding guests, and everyone else staying or working at the hotel.

As for the guy who posted information identifying the bride-to-be, he belongs in at least the 7th circle of e-hell. Or better yet, in a park working off a light community service sentence for behaving like a cyber-stalker.

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Meegs December 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

I’m so tired of the overuse of the term bullying. It really takes away from the seriousness of real bullying. This is not bullying, cyber or otherwise. I think whoever is going to a protest for this wedding definitely needs to get a life, though. But I’m all for public shaming when someone chooses to publically behave badly, the way this bride did.

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Library Diva December 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I agree with Meegs. Having helped to cover a story where a 14-year-old did take his life over real bullying (a story that made national news and attracted the attention of several celebrities), I hate seeing the inflation of this term. Suddenly, any negative attention anyone receives is considered “bullying.” Sometimes, even mere disagreement is construed as “bullying.” I think the planned protest is a little ridiculous, as is the fact that someone’s snotty Facebook post went viral in the first place. But I’d hardly consider the backlash to be bullying.

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admin December 27, 2012 at 12:27 am

You don’t consider the publication of her photo, her address, the wedding date and venue, the photos of her friends and fiance to be bullying?

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Library Diva December 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Not really. It’s disgusting. It’s harassment. It’s uncalled-for, it’s wrong, it’s hurtful and it shouldn’t have happened regardless of how snotty the bride was on Facebook. But all the definitions I’ve read state that bullying involves some imbalance of power, real or perceived, and I don’t think there’s any here.

The boy who died was stalked online by several people. He was struggling with his sexuality and talked it out online through videos he made and through a blog — admittedly, not the best judgement, but he was only 14. People made hurtful, hateful comments to him, saying he should go ahead and kill himself, using hate speech and insults, telling him he was worthless and stupid. He got it at school, too, and had dealt with it for most of his young life. Even at the vigil held for him, someone told his sister they were glad her brother was dead. The person who set up a memorial Facebook page for him was constantly fending off nasty trolls, too, saying that they were glad he was dead. To me, that’s bullying: picking out a weak member of the herd, stalking them relentlessly, stripping them of all self-worth and pride until not even professionals can build them back up, and not even relenting when their victim finally runs out of fight. I don’t think that what was done to this bride rises to quite the same level.

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girl_with_all_the_yarn December 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Exactly. This isn’t bullying, it’s trolling, flaming or otherwise. What makes bullying distinct is that the bully knows the victim in some way, either via a series of website chats where the two have “spoken” or in real life.

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admin December 27, 2012 at 12:31 am

Your definition of cyberbullying does not match the reality I have witnessed being online for the past 20 years.

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Sarah Jane December 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

Exactly. Bullying involves someone in a position of greater power taking advantage of someone position of lesser power.

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--Lia December 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Meegs– Yes! When someone does something that you don’t like, that’s not bullying. When someone expresses an opinion you disagree with, that’s not bullying. When someone teases or taunts, even meanly, that’s not bullying. Bullying is a targeted attack by a powerful group against a weaker individual. A clique of several can bully a nerdy individual. A teacher can bully a student. An older kid can bully a younger. Declining a wedding invitation isn’t bullying. Staging a protest sounds stupid, and I suppose if people go out of their way to make this greedy young bride’s life miserable forever after, that could be bullying, but really that’s one word I wish were used in a more precise way.

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admin December 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

The cyberbullying, as I understand it, was in regards to the publication of her address and photo, the address of her wedding and all pertinent data such as date and time of the wedding, photos of her closest friends and of her fiance. How would you like your wedding crashed by a 1000 people who did not know you other than having heard about you on the Internet?

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Meegs December 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I would hate it, but I still wouldn’t call it bullying.

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Tallulah December 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm

That more fits the definition of doxing than bullying, in my opinion.

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Wren December 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Are there invited guests who attend without bringing envelopes? Does this sometimes happen in the culture? Does everyone know/feel they must bring a money envelope, so everyone does? I feel like I’m not expressing this well. What I mean is, does the envelope giving ever not happen and it’s okay?

It’s kind of like the argument “People always bring envelopes? What if someone does not?”

“But they always do.”

“But what if someone doesn’t?”

“Doesn’t matter. They always do.” Etc.

This kind of reasoning sometimes happens in my religion and it is fascinating to me, so I’m wondering whether that is what is involved with the envelope-giving. And still feeling that I’m not expressing this well.

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crella December 27, 2012 at 6:19 am

These obligations go back a long way. All families, when they have a wedding or funeral, make a precise record of who gave what, and when they in turn are invited to a wedding or have to attend a funeral, they look it up and give back the same amount. And round and round it goes :-) Giving too little wouldn’t be proper and giving much more than you got is rude in its’ way too. Acquaintances and work buddies give less, closer relatives and older relations give more. There’s a whole formula to it all. So, when you are invited to a wedding, you get your envelope ready, much as an American would start looking for a present. It’s just what’s done. The envelopes for weddings are beautiful-

http://www.mamalisa.com/blog/gift-giving-in-japan-special-envelopes-tied-with-mizuhiki-knots/

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Cady December 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm

It seems to me that if $65 (US) is the generally acceptable minimum cash gift for a wedding in this culture, and the cash gifts are theoretically intended to cover the cost of the wedding, the bride and groom should budget for a wedding costing $65 times the number of guests, rather than spending lavishly and expecting guests to pony up more than the socially acceptable minimum. But then, I’m not this bride.

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admin December 27, 2012 at 12:29 am

There is a real danger in making plans using a budget that is based upon presumptions of how much guests can be expected to pony up.

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LadyLelan December 28, 2012 at 4:45 am

I’m afraid I have to slightly disagree with you, Cady.

IMO, the bride and groom should not budget their wedding on the expectation of any planned number of guests coming and thus giving them money. It’s like building a castle on moving sands, that is to say a probable recipe for disaster.

They should budget it on what they know then can REALLY afford without the help of any exterior monetary input. If guests give them a comfortable amount of money, good for them, it’ll reduce the debt. If not, at least no bad surprises.

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GleanerGirl December 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Plan the wedding you can afford. FULL STOP.

If you pay for it all, in cash, up front, yourself, then you have the absolute joy of being able to spend any monetary gifts however you darned well please!

“Yay, honey! We can retire one year earlier!”

Freedom is the best gift.

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green_pea December 27, 2012 at 2:21 am

I’ve been to many Chinese weddings. Typically a family member or trusted friend will be seated near the entrance with the guest book, and the guests will hand them the money packet while signing the guest book. Sometimes guests will bring gifts instead of money, which is fine. Sometimes the guest won’t bring either a money packet or a gift. That’s fine too! It’s not an admission fee! No one will try to bar you from attending the wedding if you don’t bring a gift or money packet! It’s pretty much the same as if you attend a western wedding without bringing a card or gift.

That said, there is the concept of ‘face’ in Asian culture so people would typically be embarrassed by not bringing a card/gift/money packet….so I’ll admit that it rarely happens that someone will go to a wedding empty handed.

The reason the packets are handed to a family member or friend rather than placed on a gift table is because it’s far easier for someone not attending the wedding to steal money in small envelopes than it is to steal wrapped wedding gifts. I’ve been responsible for collecting money packets before, and I kept my eyes & hands on my bag the whole night!

Admin, though your language was not strong, I’m a little disappointed that you choose to jump to some conclusions in your second paragraph without fully understanding the culture. There are different perspectives in everything and sometimes it’s hard to understand another culture through the lens of your own. Yes, there are many greedy people out there, but there are also many who aren’t.

I agree that the woman in the story was out of line for demanding a certain amount from her guests. And the protesters are out of line too. But there’s nothing wrong with the culture.

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Maggie December 27, 2012 at 4:42 am

I live in Hong Kong and people here know what the typical amount is to give to the couple. I’ve also been to weddings here and tend to double-check the current $ amount if attending the banquet just to be sure (if you don’t go you don’t have to pay anything). The couples may hope to cover much of the cost of the banquet; for the couples I’ve known getting married the greatest gift is your presence, not the $$$ you bring. Yes, the amount is recorded but that’s just to make sure the money doesn’t get “lost”.

The rudeness of this bride was in mentioning the amount. Tacky and greedy. And that’s the general feeling among my friends here too.

And it’s so much easier than trying to figure out what to buy, and nicer than viewing a gift-grabbing registry.

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Angie December 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

This isn’t limited to certain races. I knew a couple (Caucasian in western Canada) who got married about 15 years ago, and openly told everyone they only wanted cash, and would only invite people who they thought would give them at least $100. My husband and I were not invited, and quite frankly I don’t think I would have gone even if we had.

Yes, this bride was greedy and tactless but I think posting all their private information and protesting at the wedding itself is a bit over the top. The original story is from November. Does anyone know if the wedding has happened yet?

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Joshua December 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Actually, what the bride wrote was, “If you really only want to give me a HK$500 [US$65] cash gift, then don’t bother coming to my wedding.” So US $65 would not have been good enough for her — it had to be more.

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GleanerGirl December 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Another reason to have a low-cost wedding. Remember – a wedding reception is a party, at which you are the host, and the attendees are your guests. Treat it like any other party – you invite who you want, because you enjoy their company, plan activities to share their company, provide decent food and entertainment, and just be happy that they came.

Note, I said decent food and entertainment. It should be good enough, but need not be 5-star restaurant quality, unless you can actually afford it! Some of the best celebrations I’ve ever attended included punch and cookies and dancing to a boom box. We didn’t need more. We just needed each other.

So, if your wedding is low-cost, you will be completely unconcerned about guests “covering” their “fair share” of the expenses.

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Fung September 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

I can only refer to my comment in the post “Presentation gone wrong”.
This bride is breaking and disrespecting all the traditions and rules of a (Hong Kong) Chinese wedding!!! :(

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Fung September 28, 2013 at 11:18 am

I have to add the note that the family members who stands at the door, are actually welcoming the guests on behalve of the wedding couple and their parents.
They’re not there to collect ‘admission fees’ or the red envelopes, but simply being a good host to welcome guests.

Times does have changed but some traditions are still honored, though most couples now foot their own bills still the parents will chip in, that’s what they’ve been saving for since they themselves got married.
Parents will chip in especially when it’s the 1st marriage of their child, if their child got divorced and remarried then that wedding will not be (partly) paid by their parents.

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