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July 29, 2013

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Wedding gift puzzle

Editor’s note:

This “Ask Shanghai Daily” column, which runs every Monday, serves as a platform for expatriates to ask questions about things that puzzle them during their stay in the city.

An American expat asks us:I’ve been working in Shanghai for some months now and my Chinese colleague has invited me to her wedding ceremony. What gift should I give? In my country, we commonly give bridal couples what they want according to their gift list.

A: The large and expensive wedding ceremony and banquet is a party where Chinese people are expected to give money. Every guest brings a red envelope (hong bao) with money, which will be opened with the amount recorded against his or her name. That way the couple knows how generous to be when they attend the weddings of friends and colleagues.

Here are some suggestions:

Prepare a red envelope with cash, jot down your best wishes for the couple and write your name on the back of the envelope.

Ask among your friends, or colleagues, who have also been invited, to the wedding to determine a reasonable amount. Around 600 yuan (US$98) to 800 yuan is common for a colleague’s wedding while 800 yuan to 1,000 yuan or more is recommended for a friend or a relative. Double the gift money or at least increase it reasonably if you go with a friend, such as your girlfriend. However, the cash amount can also be adjusted according to the wedding venue and your relationship with the couple. The latest standard is that your gift money should at least cover the per-person cost of the wedding banquet.

Give your envelope to the reception team outside the wedding hall when you arrive. You can also give it to the bride or groom when you take a photo with them. Giving it to the best man or bridesmaid is also OK.

Enjoy the wedding.

If you have any questions about life in the city, feel free to e-mail them to or send them to our WeChat account “SHDaily.”


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