Health Management

Why Cash Is an Appropriate Gift at Asian Weddings


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

The 2 had already married in Uppsala, Sweden, the place they reside, 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 associates’ and colleagues’ kids.

As is custom, he gave the marrying {couples} envelopes of money recognized 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 along with his household and associates, but additionally to offset the prices of the occasion with reciprocated money presents from attendees.

“We are able to’t deny that the excess in cash was one of many good outcomes of the marriage,” stated Ms. Kim, 32, who held her second ceremony in Could.

Weddings are peaking presently of 12 months, and in Asia, it has lengthy been customized to congratulate marrying {couples} with money as a substitute of presents 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 offered with a meal ticket that permits them entrance to the marriage banquet, and the quantity given is discreetly written in a register. Company who can not attend are given the choice to wire cash to the newlyweds’ checking account quantity written on the invitation.

Whereas it has change into increasingly popular for {couples} in the USA 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 obtained married in 2005. He had a Roman Catholic marriage ceremony in the USA and a Buddhist marriage ceremony in Japan. It was a captivating expertise to obtain money at his Japanese marriage ceremony, he stated, since many Individuals consider that giving money is gauche.

“If you happen to go to an Asian nation like Japan or Korea, the expectation is to obtain a money reward,” Mr. Nakaguchi, 48, stated. “I don’t assume we’re absolutely there within 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 shopper science professor at Inha College in South Korea.

“Whereas cash presents are anticipated and desired, our tradition forbids us to explicitly spell out what we would like,” she stated, mentioning that that is why etiquette dictates cash be offered 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 set a numerical worth on a friendship? Listed here 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 necessary rituals for her dad and mom.

“We don’t have that cash,” she stated of the money presents, which in the end went to her dad and mom. “I don’t even know the way a lot cash my dad and mom obtained.”

Whereas weddings in Asia are more and more changing into much less conventional, dad and mom play an important function in arranging the occasion and making monetary selections 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 hold.

This is the reason a mum or dad at a Korean marriage ceremony is known as the hon-ju, or proprietor of the marriage. Many Korean {couples} work out a system with their dad and mom during which they hold a selected portion of the cash. Nevertheless, when cash could also be a degree of competition, some brides will appoint a gabang-sooni, or individual in control of your bag, to gather the cash in personal fairly than on the reception.

Reward cash is rarely 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 offered — 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 quite a lot of colours. In lots of Chinese language cultures, the envelope most related to the Lunar New 12 months, hong-bao, is famously crimson. Since cash is given for a lot of events, together with funerals, Asian marriage ceremony attendees ought to ensure the right envelope is given.

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

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

Whereas a present wherever is a consideration of your relationship and the social scenario, there’s typically a socially accepted system to gift-giving in Asia that takes into consideration quite a lot of components, together with beliefs about auspicious numbers and energy in relationships.

In Japan, the place the common 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 school pupil ought to contribute ¥10,000 ($70), whereas office superiors and older kinfolk ought to goal for the upper finish of that vary or extra.

Normal 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, proper, that individual’s daughter”? Any reply pointing to closeness would add to the suitable quantity — usually leading to a fee from 50,000 gained ($39) to 100,000 gained ($77), in response to 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 marriage is a type of events the place you get to provide a present to somebody,” she stated. “With out a special day, it could look out of context. To provide a present — a very good one — can be a option 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 manage presents to forestall bribery and corruption. In South Korea, an anti-graft legislation, the Kim Young-ran Act, was put into place limiting how a lot public servants might be given on varied events — capping money presents at 100,000 gained at weddings. However the act has been tough to implement as a result of a separate entity must audit every reward offered on the ceremonies.

Along with social place and proximity, standard knowledge in Asia says the price of the banquet meal must be factored in. This concept is so widespread in Singapore that dozens of websites lay out how a lot a desk prices at most main resorts 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 will, 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.

“Each half a 12 months or so, venues will modify their banquet costs in response to rising prices,” Ms. Tay stated. “This not directly causes folks to really feel pressured to pay extra once they examine the ang bao guides which might be up to date with the brand new charges.”

Ms. Lee, the buyer science professor, is usually contacted by Korean media organizations for recommendation on how a lot to pay at a marriage. She stated her rule of thumb was all the time: “Lookup the venue the place the couple is getting married. See how a lot a meal there prices. And if you’ll not cowl the worth of your plate, it’s higher to not go and ship them an digital switch of fifty,000 gained as a substitute.”

Since many Asian cultures have superstitions round cash, it might be sensible to search for which numbers are thought of fortunate on the marriage ceremony in query. In South Korea, the quantity 4 is taken into account unfortunate due to its resemblance to the character for loss of life. 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 all the time: “It’s a must to bear in mind how a lot the individual gave you, and also you reciprocate, however by no means the equal quantity of worth. It shouldn’t really feel like a market transaction. Reciprocate by including just a little extra to point you wish to proceed to have a relationship with that individual.”

Her mom’s recommendation additionally got here with a warning: “If you happen to pay an excessive amount of extra, it might come throughout as conceitedness.”

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

“If we lived in a wonderfully closed neighborhood, everyone would know their positions and they’d know the way a lot to provide, however the actuality is that we’re all the time cellular,” 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 totally different than what occurs in America,” Mr. Nakaguchi stated. Folks bear in mind what visitors spent at their marriage ceremony and attempt to reciprocate equal or greater values.

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