When you’re invited to a wedding, you don’t expect to just turn up and enjoy the ceremony. Ang Bao giving is a complicated concern that every wedding guest would have. How much to give? When to give? What type of ang baos? These are some of the many questions you may have and we’ll here to answer them.
When to Give the Wedding AngBao?
Unable to attend
If you have informed the couple beforehand that you’re unable to make it, most couples would not expect you to give an ang bao. However, you can still express your well wishes by giving a small token ang bao. You can do so by giving them your angbao whenever you see them. It could be at work, or during weekly family or friends gatherings. For those who may not have a chance to meet the couple before their wedding, digital angbaos are also an option. eGift, previously known as eAngBaos can be sent through the DBS PayLah! app. Options to write personalised blessings or messages are also available when sending an eGift. This ensures your sincerity reaches them even while using a convenient method.
In unfortunate cases where you have confirmed your attendance but are unable to make it last-minute, it would be polite to still inform them. An ang bao would also be appreciated.
Tea ceremonies play a significant role in Chinese weddings. The couple will usually kneel or bow while serving tea to seniors as a form of respect. After the tea is served, the seniors would respond by handing red packets to them. Seniors can choose to give one ang bao each to total up to two per couple. Otherwise, they can give one (a bigger one) together with their spouse. They will also express their blessings to the couple through some advice or well wishes at the same time.
The amount given in the angbaos for tea ceremonies are generally smaller than angbaos for banquet lunches/dinners. Some seniors can also choose to give angbaos only during the tea ceremony without a 2nd one during the banquet. In such cases, the angbaos would have taken the banquet into consideration and are relatively bigger. If there’s heirloom jewelry that’s passed down through generations, parents may also choose to present the couple with them in place of red packets.
After the couple has served tea to all senior members of the family, the newlywed will be served tea by the younger generation. In this case, it’s the couple’s turn to give ang baos to the younger ones.
Some couples might choose to only have a church wedding without a banquet. Churches usually will not list their venue prices online although they would cost relatively less than banquets. Even so, couples usually cater a lunch or high tea for their guests after the ceremony. A choir could also have been hired at additional cost for their wedding. These are factors that you can consider to determine your ang bao amount.
If there is no follow-up banquet after the church wedding, a reception will usually be set up on the church premises for you to give your ang baos.
Most couples would usually have a banquet for their wedding. During these banquets, there’ll be a reception for wedding guests to give their ang baos. Since the couple would probably be busy preparing elsewhere, there may also be a book for guests to write their blessings for the couple at the reception.
There’ll usually be an ang bao box for guests to slot their ang baos in. Some bridesmaids will be seated at the reception to help you along if you’re unsure. It’s important to note that you should write your name on the ang bao before placing it in. This allows the couple to easily identify which ang bao is given by which guest so that they can personally thank each guest.
Types of Wedding Ang Baos in Singapore
Different cultures may also have different wedding traditions. And that includes the type of ang baos to be given. We know “ang baos (red packets)” are mandatory but these “ang baos” do not definitely mean “red packets” for weddings of different ethnicities.
You can generally use the same angbaos that you use during your New Year holidays.
For Chinese weddings, ang baos given are usually red or pink in colour. For those who want to be unique, gold ang baos is another option. Such colours are chosen for their symbolism of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture.
Numbers also play an important role in determining how much you should give. ‘8’ and ‘6’ are auspicious numbers as they represent wealth and luck in Mandarin or dialects. Hence, guests should try to give an amount with these numbers in their ang baos. In contrast, ‘4’ sounds like the word for death in Chinese. It is a number you should avoid.
Most Chinese couples would hold their wedding at a restaurant or hotel function rooms. The price range can vary widely. To decide how much you should give, you can factor in the hotel’s table rate and also your relationship with the couple. If you’re a close friend or family member, it’s expected to give a higher amount in your ang baos. For acquaintances, paying the base amount could usually be good enough. Ultimately, your ang bao should come from a sincere heart to wish the couple happiness.
At Malay weddings, there is no fixed amount. Muslims believe in the concept of giving with your heart. Hence, you can choose any amount to express your well-wishes. Instead of red packets, you should present your monetary blessings in green packets. The colour green was chosen for its association with the Islamic paradise. Although green packets are not obligatory, it’s always courteous to show your appreciation with one.
It’s also different from Chinese weddings with a typical ang bao box during reception. When you arrive at a Malay wedding, you should greet the couple’s parents and help yourself to the food. Most of the time, food will be catered in the form of a buffet and the seating arrangement is free.
It is advised to pass your green packets to the bride or groom’s parents only after you have had your meal and are about to leave. Female guests should greet and pass it to the mother of either the bride and groom while male guests should do it to the fathers. The parents would pass you a door gift as they would expect you to have eaten and be taking your leave.
Passing your green packets should also be done in a discreet manner. The common practice is to fold your packet in your palm before handing it to the parents during your handshake. Handing it over with both hands is another alternative.
Although cash gift boxes may also be available, there is a possibility of you leaving without wedding favours as their parents would not know that you have taken your meal.
Traditional Indian weddings can go up to 4 days with the various ceremonies. However, modern couples may choose to shorten it to 2-3 days. You can choose to give the couple either a boxed gift to be sent over prior to their wedding or the more common monetary gift.
It’s auspicious to give amounts ending in ‘1’. There are various reasons for doing so. When giving amounts ending in ‘1’, most would have to include a $1 coin in their ang baos. The metal gold is closely associated with the goddess of wealth Lakshmi. By adding a metal coin, it relates to your blessing of prosperity on the couple. A whole number like ‘0’ also signifies the end while ‘1’ symbolises the beginning. Amounts ending with ‘1’ are hence given in hopes that the couple’s journey and fortune together will continue to grow.
If you are close with the couple, you can pass your ang baos to them directly.
Ang baos might be tricky but they don’t have to be! Ultimately, a wedding is a joyous occasion for both the couple and guests. With thoughtful blessings and well wishes, the wedding would remain a beautiful memory for everyone.