Why Cash Is an Appropriate Gift at Asian Weddings

After I acquired a marriage invitation from my pals Jiyeon Kim and Olof Norlander this 12 months, I knew precisely the place I’d choose up their wedding ceremony current: the financial institution.

The 2 had already married in Uppsala, Sweden, the place they dwell, however Ms. Kim’s father needed the newlyweds to have a second ceremony in Changwon, South Korea, the place he had spent years attending the weddings of his pals’ and colleagues’ youngsters.

As is custom, he gave the marrying {couples} envelopes of money identified in Korean as chug-ui-geum, or congratulatory cash. Having a marriage in South Korea would enable him not solely to share the joyous event together with his household and pals, but additionally to offset the prices of the occasion with reciprocated money items from attendees.

“We can’t deny that the surplus in money was one of the good outcomes of the wedding,” stated Ms. Kim, 32, who held her second ceremony in Might.

Weddings are peaking presently of 12 months, and in Asia, it has lengthy been customized to congratulate marrying {couples} with money as an alternative of items from a registry. In South Korea, visitors current their envelopes of money to an appointed good friend or member of the family of the newlywed couple upon arriving on the reception. In return, they’re introduced with a meal ticket that enables them entrance to the marriage banquet, and the quantity given is discreetly written in a register. Friends who can not attend are given the choice to wire cash to the newlyweds’ checking account quantity written on the invitation.

Whereas it has turn into more and more fashionable for {couples} in america to ask for money when getting married, it’s nonetheless uncommon for American {couples} to have a registry that’s money solely, stated Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola, a marriage registry web site.

Nobu Nakaguchi, a co-founder at Zola, stated he observed cultural variations in gift-giving when he acquired married in 2005. He had a Roman Catholic wedding ceremony in america and a Buddhist wedding ceremony in Japan. It was an interesting expertise to obtain money at his Japanese wedding ceremony, he stated, since many People imagine that giving money is gauche.

“If you go to an Asian country like Japan or Korea, the expectation is to receive a cash gift,” Mr. Nakaguchi, 48, stated. “I don’t think we’re fully there in the U.S.”

Regardless of long-held customs round giving money, discussing expectations about cash was thought of a cultural taboo in Asian international locations, stated Lee Eun-hee, a client science professor at Inha College in South Korea.

“While money gifts are expected and desired, our culture forbids us to explicitly spell out what we want,” she stated, declaring that for this reason etiquette dictates cash be introduced in envelopes.

This dichotomy has resulted in a wealthy dialog across the etiquette of giving money at weddings in Asia. Ought to a present replicate the price of your banquet meal? How do you place a numerical worth on a friendship? Listed below are some unwritten guidelines on how giving cash works at Asian weddings.

Mengqi Wang, an assistant professor of anthropology at Duke Kunshan College who had two weddings in China, described each of her experiences as giant affairs that didn’t attempt to replicate her and her husband’s relationship. She felt an obligation to have the ceremonies, largely as a result of she knew they have been vital rituals for her mother and father.

“We don’t have that money,” she stated of the money items, which finally went to her mother and father. “I don’t even know how much money my parents got.”

Whereas weddings in Asia are more and more changing into much less conventional, mother and father play a significant position in arranging the occasion and making monetary choices as a result of they’re typically paying for it. It’s frequent for folks to find out how a lot of the congratulatory cash the newlyweds preserve.

That is why a father or mother at a Korean wedding ceremony is known as the hon-ju, or proprietor of the marriage. Many Korean {couples} work out a system with their mother and father by which they preserve a selected portion of the cash. Nevertheless, when cash could also be some extent of competition, some brides will appoint a gabang-sooni, or individual accountable for your bag, to gather the cash in personal fairly than on the reception.

Reward cash isn’t meant to be bodily seen. To work round this, many Asian cultures have particular envelopes for the event. In South Korea, solely crisp, new payments are to be introduced — stacked front-first — in a white envelope with the giver’s identify written vertically on it.

In Japan, the shugi-bukuro, or envelope for congratulatory cash, was historically made by hand in crimson and white, however can now be purchased in a wide range of colours. In lots of Chinese language cultures, the envelope most related to the Lunar New Yr, hong-bao, is famously crimson. Since cash is given for a lot of events, together with funerals, Asian wedding ceremony attendees ought to make certain the proper envelope is given.

Lately, sending cash by a financial institution switch or electronically through digital envelopes on messaging apps like WeChat and KakaoTalk has additionally turn into acceptable.

Ms. Kim, who has attended weddings in Europe and Asia, stated it was a lot tougher for her to determine how a lot to contribute to a marriage in Sweden, because the customs are completely different.

Whereas a present wherever is a consideration of your relationship and the social state of affairs, there’s typically a socially accepted components to gift-giving in Asia that takes under consideration a wide range of components, together with beliefs about auspicious numbers and energy in relationships.

In Japan, the place the typical goshugi, or envelope of money given at an auspicious event, is someplace from 30,000 yen ($211) to 50,000 yen ($350), it’s usually understood {that a} youthful grownup or faculty pupil ought to contribute ¥10,000 ($70), whereas office superiors and older family ought to intention for the upper finish of that vary or extra.

Basic recommendation from Korean blogs and society reporting recommends asking your self these questions to grasp what constitutes a detailed relationship: Is the individual inviting you a piece colleague? Did you obtain a cellular invitation solely? Does your mom know this individual’s identify? Would your mom’s response to listening to the individual’s identify be “Oh, right, that person’s daughter”? Any reply pointing to closeness would add to the suitable quantity — sometimes leading to a fee from 50,000 gained ($39) to 100,000 gained ($77), in line with a survey of South Korean singles in 2022.

Ms. Wang, the anthropology professor, stated the cash given at weddings was additionally used to determine a stronger bond, or guanxi.

“The wedding is one of those occasions where you get to give a gift to someone,” she stated. “Without a special occasion, it would look out of context. To give a gift — a good one — is also a way to cement relationships.”

It’s not only a financial alternate however an alternate of credit score and debt, she added.

As such, the marriage reward giving system has been abused by folks in energy, and governments in Asia have even tried to control items to stop bribery and corruption. In South Korea, an anti-graft regulation, the Kim Younger-ran Act, was put into place limiting how a lot public servants may very well be given on numerous events — capping money items at 100,000 gained at weddings. However the act has been troublesome to implement as a result of a separate entity must audit every reward introduced on the ceremonies.

Along with social place and proximity, standard knowledge in Asia says the price of the banquet meal ought to be factored in. This concept is so widespread in Singapore that dozens of internet sites lay out how a lot a desk prices at most main motels within the nation.

Michelle Tay, an editor at Singapore Brides, says that whereas she encourages readers to pay as a lot ang bao (Hokkien for crimson envelope) as they’ll, many individuals prefer to have a tough estimate of how a lot others are paying by first wanting on the costs listed on the venue.

“Every half a year or so, venues will adjust their banquet prices according to rising costs,” Ms. Tay stated. “This indirectly causes people to feel pressured to pay more when they check the ang bao guides that are updated with the new rates.”

Ms. Lee, the patron science professor, is commonly contacted by Korean media organizations for recommendation on how a lot to pay at a marriage. She stated her rule of thumb was at all times: “Look up the venue where the couple is getting married. See how much a meal there costs. And if you will not cover the price of your plate, it’s better not to go and send them an electronic transfer of 50,000 won instead.”

Since many Asian cultures have superstitions round cash, it could be clever to lookup which numbers are thought of fortunate on the wedding ceremony in query. In South Korea, the quantity 4 is taken into account unfortunate due to its resemblance to the character for dying. In Japan, be cautious of any sum that’s divisible by two, as a result of it’s simply separated. In China, values ending in eight are most well-liked for his or her affiliation with wealth and prosperity.

Ms. Wang stated her mom’s precept was at all times: “You have to remember how much the person gave you, and you reciprocate, but never the equal amount of value. It shouldn’t feel like a market transaction. Reciprocate by adding a little more to indicate you want to continue to have a relationship with that person.”

Her mom’s recommendation additionally got here with a warning: “If you pay too much more, it can come across as arrogance.”

In China, when she is uncertain of how a lot to pay, Ms. Wang calls her pals to match notes.

“If we lived in a perfectly closed community, everybody would know their positions and they would know how much to give, but the reality is that we’re always mobile,” she stated. That is true whether or not an individual is making an attempt to place a determine on a marriage reward, sending condolences to a funeral (additionally a money reward in lots of Asian international locations) or making an attempt to select a present for a child bathe.

In some methods, “it’s no different than what happens in America,” Mr. Nakaguchi stated. Individuals bear in mind what visitors spent at their wedding ceremony and attempt to reciprocate equal or larger values.

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