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Wedding Ang Bao: What you need to know

A church wedding is a ceremony that celebrates the union of two people in the presence of God and their loved ones. It is a sacred and meaningful event that signifies the beginning of a new life together, filled with love, commitment, and faith. One of the traditional customs associated with church weddings is the giving of ang baos, which are red envelopes containing money or gifts, from the guests to the newlyweds as well wishes. Conversely, the bride and groom may also extend giving their ang baos to the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other people as an expression of gratitude for helping them.

Ang bao giving at church weddings is a common practice in many Asian cultures, including Chinese, Singaporean, and Malaysian. It involves giving a monetary gift in a red envelope or red packet called an ang bao to the newlyweds as a symbol of good luck and blessings for their marriage. The simple act of giving ang baos reflects the cultural values of reciprocity, generosity, and respect, and through these, it can strengthen the bonds between family members, friends, and communities.

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In addition to monetary gifts, guests may also give other presents such as household items or jewelry. However, ang bao giving remains the most common way to show support and blessings toward newlyweds in many Asian cultures.

It is important to remember that an ang bao should not be taken only in terms of its superficial meaning such that you are merely given money. This is not a payment for the wedding dinner or wedding venue per se. Rather, it is a very sincere and symbolic showcase of the love your family and close friends have for you. It is respecting the culture of Asian civilisations.

Church wedding angbaos are relatively harder to quantify in amount than those held at other wedding venues such as the function hall of a hotel or a restaurant, Singapore recreation club, Singapore botanic gardens, a country club, or other alternative wedding venues since price breakdowns are not really clear-cut. Additionally, Chinese weddings held at churches are somewhat less extravagant and therefore, less expensive.

Commonly asked wedding Ang Bao Questions from guests

This article offers a rough guide on wedding ang bao giving. Although specific wedding ang bao rates might not be explored in depth since this decision would be based on other factors which are considered important by the newly-wed couple.

What type of weddings are Ang bao appropriate to give?

Solemnisation or ROM ceremony, Church weddings followed by a dinner banquet, Malay weddings, and the like. Whatever wedding you are attending, it is customary to give ang bao. As stated above, it serves as your sincere blessings and well wishes for the newly-wed couple about to embark on a new journey in their life.

How much shall I give?

The wedding ang bao amount of money given varies depending on several factors such as the venue, catering expenses, and the number of guests invited. In some cultures, such as Chinese, it is customary to not give a number of bills with the amount having a number "4" inside the ang bao as it is believed to bring bad luck.

Amounts containing an auspicious number like "8" is generally considered as good luck so be sure to take note of this in trying to decide the amount most fitting to give.

When shall I give it?

In church weddings, ang bao giving is often done after the wedding ceremony during the reception or dinner. Guests are expected to contribute a certain amount of money depending on their relationship with the couple and their financial capabilities.

What to consider for Church wedding ang baos

Here are general things to help you come up with the most fitting amount to give. Again, this will be on a case-to-case basis so there is really no clear-cut amount.

Other Vendors enlisted

For starters, of course, the bride and groom would not be able to handle all of the wedding preparations by themselves. They would just be overwhelmed with stress. So, they will have to ask for help from a wedding coordinator or planner. Additionally, weddings would not be complete without flowers so florists would be needed. A way to make the wedding more solemn but also, in a way, more lively is to engage a band, choir, or singer. Photographs would also be needed to capture this precious moment in their life and memorialize it. A photographer and/or videographer shall be hired for this.

It will be up to the soon-to-be-husband-and-wife if they will look for the best, regardless of price, or will be pretty modest on their budget for these. Nevertheless, a substantial amount of money would still be spent on the cost of these things so these factors should be included in your decision-making.

Relationship to Couple

The mere fact that you are invited to the wedding means that you have a relationship with the couple. It will be a must to determine how deep this goes. If you are a plain work colleague or an acquaintance, covering the basic costs for one table or guest may be enough. But if you have a closer relationship with the couple such as being a family member, one of the close friends, or a best friend, you may want to give a higher amount like double the cost per table. As they say, it is easier to give larger amounts when you have a deep connection with the other.

There really is no limit on how much to give the couple as long as it is from the heart and not just to lose face. Although, always take into consideration the cost of the wedding in deciding the amount to give them.

Food served

After the wedding, most couples would serve lunch buffet or high tea wherein a large selection of food may be available. They can also serve a variety of dishes from appetizers, to the main courses, to desserts, add-ons such as finger foods, and drinks. A plethora of food may be served at your table. It is not just the food but also the wait staff who are willing to serve you.

You should take into account the cost of the food served as well as the service charge for the staff. Some may choose not to disclose this so be prepared to have a rough estimate or maybe search for the price breakdowns and go from there. In providing an estimate, a quick tip would be to base it on the variety, quality, and taste of the food served. It may help to think of a restaurant it may compare to and assume they have the same price.

If an evening banquet/ wedding banquet was held

If a couple had chosen to hold the entirety of their wedding day at a church, a reception would be available on the church premises for your wedding ang bao. On the other hand, some would hold hotel banquets or at a restaurant. Wedding ang bao shall then be given during the banquet. This will then include your token for both the church wedding as well as the evening banquet.

Since a hotel, restaurant, or another venue was used, certainly this will entail an additional cost considering the rates of some of these places only go up with time. This is why a hotel wedding may cost more than a church wedding. Not to mention some hotels and restaurants have different weekend rates which are pricier. So a higher amount for the wedding ang bao will apply because these are generally more glamorous, elaborate, and quite flashy so venue rentals are higher.

The estimated cost of the entire wedding

We have enumerated the general things that are included in a wedding such as the other vendors (planner, florist, singer or choir), food, and banquet. Additionally, in looking at the entire cost of the wedding, some other little factors should also be considered such as the wedding gown, the dresses, the groom and groomsmen's clothes, and table arrangements. Some may also choose to give little tokens that serve as wedding souvenirs. Or some other thing that the couple has decided to add to their wedding.

These things are additional costs and should be taken into consideration whenever you compute the amount to give. It may go up depending if the newlyweds decide to choose the one with the highest prices or maybe even if they decide to stick to a modest budget. Either way, these are all part of the wedding costs and wedding ang bao rates should correspond to these.

Financial capability of the giver

As mentioned, an ang bao should be given with utmost sincerity it is more than just money. Thus, one should also factor in their financial capability. You cannot give more than what you can if you are only doing it just for the sake of. If you have calculated the church wedding angbaos amount to be higher than what you can give, you may opt to give something lesser than that. Do not think that just because the dinner banquets were so luxurious I should also spend more for the ang bao. Give only what you can. You do not have to starve yourself just so you could give a big amount. Consider your finances. The couple will understand. What truly matters is that you gave it sincerely and joyfully. You gave it as a blessing to the couple for their new chapter. Again, this is not a payment for your table. Rather, a sign of your love and happiness for the couple.

Ang bao rates for bridesmaids and groomsmen

To reiterate, an ang bao is not a payment. Yes, you would have to give ang baos to your bridesmaids and groomsmen but this is solely a token of your appreciation. A way of showing your gratitude. Thus, several factors should also be considered in determining how much you should give. Some of these include:

1. Time spent to help

-As stated before, the couple cannot handle all the tasks in wedding planning by themselves. So, they ask for help from different people including their entourage.

2. Money spent (if applicable)

-Some couples would actually ask them to look for their own or even pay for their own clothes in order to match the theme of the wedding. Some would also be asked to fetch guests from a certain place to the wedding venue which would involve spending on petrol and sometimes toll fees.

3. If they had special duties

-Some would double as an emcee to the wedding or perform other duties outside of being a part of the entourage.

What should NOT be given in an ang bao

As a general rule, avoid giving amounts with the number "4" as it is inauspicious to them since it actually rhymes with the Chinese word for "death." Additionally, odd numbers should also be avoided as they are also deemed unlucky.

In summary,

When it comes to church weddings, ang bao giving is common among many Asian families. The amount of money given in the ang bao depends on various factors such as the relationship with the couple, the type of wedding, and the financial capability of the giver.

In some cases, the ang bao given may cover the expenses incurred by the couple for the wedding, although mainly in others, it may serve as a token of blessing and well wishes for the newlyweds. Regardless of the amount given, the gesture of giving an ang bao is a way to express love, respect, and support for the couple on their special day.

To conclude, a church wedding and the tradition of ang baos are interconnected in various ways. They represent the joy, blessings, and traditions of the couple's journey, as well as the support and involvement of their loved ones. These two intertwined traditions reflect the importance of family, culture, and community in celebrating love and union. Whether it is a church wedding or a traditional Asian wedding, ang bao giving is a meaningful way to show support and bestow blessings upon the newlyweds.


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Annabel Law

Annabel Law has 15+ years experience as a wedding photographer. Annabel Law Productions has shot over

600 weddings in Singapore and overseas. She is the only female Canon EOS master and she has been

featured in Straits Times, Business Times, Mothership and many more. Annabel offers wedding photography, wedding videography and boudoir photography services. 

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