In my younger days, I hardly ever got to go for any wedding luncheon or dinner unless it was somebody in the family who was getting married.

I do remember, however, how there would usually be two men seated at a table by the entrance or near it with a mini-suitcase by the side. In later years, that was replaced by the so-called “James Bond bag”. One of the men would collect the ang paos from the guests arriving and he would take out the money and count and then he would say the name of the guest out loud and the amount given. The man seated beside him would write it all down in  a thin exercise book and the money would be thrown into the suitcase, all of which would be handed over to the host at the end of the day.

That reminded me of the scribe and the tax collector in those Biblical days and I would not say that was a very good system, not that anyone gave two hoots and was in any way bothered about it, since it was the accepted practice at the time. However, there was one time when somebody gave RM100 in RM50 denomination and as he was walking away, he thought he heard RM50 only. So he went back and checked and true enough, only RM50 had been recorded in the exercise book. He demanded for the ang pao packet and the man took it out of his shirt pocket – the other RM50 note was inside. No one could tell whether it was accidental or intentional but obviously, this seemingly foolproof way of collecting ang paos may be abused by unscrupulous individuals if they were thus inclined.

I also remember one thing – the exercise book would have to be kept and when one was invited by one of those guests in the list, one would have to attend and give that same amount – you cannot give more nor less. Good grief! Way back then, people would usually give RM10.00 only per head. Imagine if I were to go to a wedding reception today and give, according to the past record, just RM10.00. That was quite a lot then but it is certainly too little by today’s standards.

People often lament when they get a string of those red “summonses”…

Wedding invitations

…as that would mean they would have to keep forking out the money for the ang paos.

However, things may be, at times, a little different here. I don’t know who started this trend but very often, one would get to see this…

No gifts

…in the invitation cards. Some would be more specific and state that gifts in cash or kind are respectfully declined…and some would also include congratulatory messages (in the newspapers).

Yes, at any wedding in town, there would be those people from the local Chinese dailies hovering around like hawks, waiting to swoop down on you the moment you’re seated. It wouldn’t be so bad if there is just one or two but more often than not, there are a number of them and it can get somewhat irritating when they come round to ask you again and again and at times, the same one even – they certainly are quite persistent. I think it costs RM20.00 per head to add your name to a list of others in a congratulatory message in the paper the next day or so. Actually, I would rather give an ang pao even if it means I would need to give more for I do feel that in cases such as these, the only people laughing all the way to the bank would be those newspaper companies.

I guess if you’re one of those rich tycoons in town, you can easily afford to throw a grand and impressive party anytime but rich or poor, I am pretty sure that any parent and the newly-weds would have saved up more than enough for the special and happy occasion. Still. I do feel it is better to let people give an ang pao

Wedding ang pao

…as a token, more in appreciation of the invitation than anything else. Tradition has it that when people give you something, you have to give something in return and the same applies here. They have invited you so an ang pao would be in order and the best gesture to show that you appreciate it very much, much better than buying a gift. I was told once that in the past, in western societies where giving ang paos is not the norm, the intending bride and groom would pass a list of things that they would need or want for their relatives or friends to choose what to buy for them – that certainly was a good idea and one would not end up with a dozen tea sets and half a dozen toasters and rice cookers. I’m not sure if they still do that these days or not.

If I’m not wrong, this practice of not accepting gifts, cash or kind, is quite unheard of outside of Sibu…and I am glad that people have done away with the “scribe and tax collector” system of collecting ang paos these days. It seems that they would just prepare a box and you can just drop your ang pao inside…like depositing cheques at the bank. Whatever it is,  I don’t mind really as I love going for weddings, meeting friends and mingling with the other guests, basking in the joy all around and enjoying the food…


Yum! Yummmm!!!! What about you?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

28 thoughts on “Give…”

  1. eye opening entry this time… i like the food served at the dinner too… any wedding dinner coming up?

    No news of any…unfortunately. You know of anyone getting married. Come, I’ll tag along.

  2. Well my mom gives ang pao usually, never thought of gifts or anything else… and i never enjoyed those food in wedding dinner :/

    Most convenient, just give an ang pao. Wedding dinners, it all depends on how much the host has forked out for each table…and also where. I don’t mind the food…if there’s no msg overload. You know these Chinese restaurants – it’s like they can get msg for free.

  3. ANG POW!! and now, have you prepared the RM88.88 ang pow for me?? hehehehe.. gifts in cash are respectfully accepted, the more the merrier!! *wink wink* :p

    You’re getting married? When? How come I’ve not received your invitation? Never mind…just tell me the date, time and venue and I’ll be there…with your RM88.88 ang pao!!! 😉

    1. RM88.88 is for his graduation la….his marriage will be RM999.99 leh…. long long marriage mah….

      When? When? No sound from him. I guess he does not want to invite me. Sobsssss!!!! 😥

  4. I love weddings too..get to meet old friends and distance get to get good food..

    Ahhhh!!!! I’m not alone. Btw, thanks for dropping by & commenting. Do come again. 😉

  5. Not that I know of anything like calling out people’s name and the amount he/she gives. So embrassing. Maybe it is the practice of the Foochows only. Once awhile receiving “red summons” is alright but sometimes receive a few in a month’s time and the dates are quiet close.

    Probably. That was the customary practice in my younger days. They did that at the funeral I attended that day though – taking out the money and recording in a an exercise book who gave how much but no shouting it out loud. I don’t mind the dates being close, not THAT many, anyway…but not on the same day – can’t attend all. The most that I had had was three in one same day. 😦

    1. In funeral, we just give the “pek kim” without putting in envelope or wharever but we did record it down.

      We always wrap – using white paper. cannot use an ang pao packet and we would write our names outside. The people assigned would just accept and give a towel (in the old days, a handkerchief – that’s why pantang, cannot give this as a present). They did it differently in Serian that day.

  6. When I got married in 2009, both my sisters collected my angpaus at the reception. The moment that somebody passed the angpau to my sister, she will take out the money, pass to my other sister, and she will then write the amount of money on the angpau with a marker pen and put those empty angpaus (with name and amount of money) in another bag, for me to check and record after I’m free (a few days later).

    I would always write at the back of the ang pao packet so they would know who it is from. I guess some people don’t so unless you write for them, it would be hard to keep track of who gave what.

  7. Oh, I do love weddings, ang pows notwithstanding. I think it is a good idea to stick to ang pows as it will allow the newly weds to put the money to good use. I did not know about that old “tax collector” system hah…hah…Not very nice to have the amount you give announced right? Anyway, me and my partner we usually hold on to the ang pows and hand them personally to the bride/groom at the end of the reception.

    Yes, when there’s nobody collecting or no box prepared, we’d just pass to the bride and groom or the parents…but usually upon arrival. Groom has a lot of pockets to stuff them all in. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

  8. Yes, I love going to weddings too, especially nowadays, the dinners are so canggih one.. wedding planners are a norm now.. just pay the package and they plan everything for you. 🙂 About the two men collecting money and recording it down, I thought it only happens in HK… I don’t see the practice here in Ipoh… maybe other parts of the states, I dont know but kind of embarrassing if the angpau is not up to standard and the fella shouted it out?

    In Hongkong? Hmmm…didn’t know that. Usually it would be a standard rate – in the old days, RM10 only, all the same so nothing to feel shy about. Everyone was used to it so nobody paid any attention. Probably they felt that it would be some kind of checking system to prevent people from pocketting the money as other people might be assigned the “job” of collecting the ang paos, not one of the family. Immediate relatives might choose to give more, up to them.

  9. If go wedding, i will give ang pao, the amount also have to depend on the place….

    Place? I think here, it’s standard – RM50…and they tell me that in KL, it’s RM100. They did say it will vary depending on whether it’s at a restaurant or at a hotel. Not here, all the same. Of course, one can give more if one so wishes.

  10. I also wondering why some people refused to receive gifts & ang pous. It’s sometimes can turn down the feeling of the guest. I don’t think it will burden the guest (by giving ang pou/gift)…

    I agree with you. It’s just a small token…to share the joy and show appreciation for the invitation.

  11. That’s why we called it ‘red bomb’ whenever we received wedding invitations. I remember once an ex – colleague of mine whom I never contacted for donkey years suddenly called to invite me to his wedding. I , of course, declined. He even persuaded me !!

    Aiyor!!! When working and tied down to one’s family, one would not have time to keep in touch mah…unlike these days – there’s Facebook but not everyone’s on it and not everyone is active either. Should be thankful that he remembered you. I would go, if I do not have any other commitments.

  12. Culture is a fascinating thing. So much of our communities beliefs are seen in our day to day actions.

    Lots dying out though. The young ones aren’t bothered about them. I wouldn’t mind preserving those good ones though – the not desirable ones, we can just forget about them.

  13. I’m very happy if I received any red bombs or summonse as you mentioned. At least, people still remember to invite us. Whether they are close to me or not, I feel happy for them.

    Me too. Better than hearing that their son or daughter got married and you were not invited…. 😦

  14. I love your first cold and hot lobster platter…looks yummy… not cheap though!

    The last time, over a year ago (almost two years), I ordered that when Claire, smallkucing and the other blogger friends came. I think it was RM120 for one boat/ship. On a plate, I think prices start at RM80. I love this first dish, never mind in a plate or a ship.

    1. It is cheap… with that boat display. It looks grand.

      Can be dangerous. Have to be careful. One spin of the carousel on the table and all the glasses of drinks will be toppled over. Has happened before. 😀

  15. Talking about – to jot/record names and amount in a book. My parents did that too during my times. It is a custom that we can either follow the same ang pao amount or more (if we are affordable). Usually we will not give lesser than. Define as a return… phai seh right if the person remember that he gave us RM100 last time and now I gave them RM50… Usually we only treat this for relatives only.

    I don’t bother – will just give what I feel like giving. Too bad if it is less – poor old pensioner can’t afford too much. They should have got married when I was still working. Hehehehehehe!!!! Good excuse, eh? 😉

    1. Ya, nowadays we will consider where is the wedding will be held? grand hotel or normal restaurant, then we’ll decide how much to give. Not nice if give lesser… nor over… hahaha.

      No such thing here. Standard RM50, never mind where, up to people if they want to give more…or less. After all, it’s just a token, a gift…not supposed to be used to cover the dinner expenses but I am all for the idea of accepting ang paos as gestures of appreciation for being invited.

  16. The dish looks unique and I bet it’s very yummy!

    My favourite. Trouble is I would always eat too much this first course and then too full already, cannot eat much anymore of the remaining dishes.

  17. This one reminds me few months ago happened in HK, has a couple, the bride wrote on her FB states saying “if your only tended to give HK500, please don’t come to my wedding, because the food I’ve prepared are not worth with that money, I won’t be mad if you don’t come ” and it’s up on HK news…

    I saw that. Sometime ago. Really so malu lah like that, shameless.

  18. When you wrote this…

    However, there was one time when somebody gave RM100 in RM50 denomination and as he was walking away, he thought he heard RM50 only. So he went back and checked and true enough, only RM50 had been recorded in the exercise book. He demanded for the ang pao packet and the man took it out of his shirt pocket – the other RM50 note was inside. No one could tell whether it was accidental or intentional but obviously, this seemingly foolproof way of collecting ang paos may be abused by unscrupulous individuals if they were thus inclined.

    It made me think of Zacchaeus the tax collector he took more than he should. That was last Sundays lesson for my second grade class.
    Bridal registries are still common here in the USA. You can set up ‘bridal registries’ register at various stores online. With some stores, it will even remove the items that you’ve requested when one of your guests has purchased the item.

    It was some kind of checks & balances system people used in that past but it was not as foolproof as they thought. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    Ahhhh!!! That would be the old pass-the-list-around thing with a modern twist, gone all hi-tech. That’s anytime better than letting the guests decide what they would want to buy but I do think our Asian way of giving gift money in a red packet is better – the couple can use the money to buy whatever they so desire.

  19. ang pow for me? heee..heee…

    You’re getting married? When? When? Send me an invitation, I’ll fly over to attend…with an ang pao, of course. 😉

  20. my wedding also got one empty angpau wrapper. But am sure the money not taken by the reception la. Maybe the giver blur sotong forgot to put money inside. Anyway…people say money is not important mah. It’s the “Ang” that is important

    Yup. Pantang – some people give ang pao with money inside, and then the one receiving will return the money but keep the red packet. Some kind of traditional practice, it seems.

  21. Hhmmnn, been quite a while since I went to a wedding! I like the wedding dinners, especially some that are organized by wedding planners…so elaborate and beautiful. I didn’t have the resources to engage a wedding planner last time (anyway, last time not a trend and unless one is filthy rich!).
    The part about gifts are respectfully declined is something new. I mean I don’t see it printed on the invitation cards over here. Anyway, I thought it is a norm to give ang paos to Chinese couples getting married? Only if my non-Chinese friend is getting married, I would frankly ask if he/she prefers ang pao or gifts. And if gifts, he/she would normally have a wish list ready. 😀

    Ya, I thought so too – only in Sibu and I don’t know who started it. Ya, last time, no planners. Now, it’s the in thing. And the photo sessions too. Last time, grooms were not allowed to see the brides in their wedding gowns until the wedding day…

  22. This post is an eye opener for me cos my Sibu friend told me that no one gives red packets and placing ads newspapers are the only compulsory option. WTH was he talking about? What you just said makes sense.

    Once, I overheard a girl ask a VIP at a travel function here if there were any mamak shops in Sibu, he did not know what a mamak was so the girl told him an Indian Muslim…and he told her, “No, no! There are no Indians in Sibu.” Tsk! Tsk! There is a mamak shop right across the road from the hotel…selling nice nasi bryani. The ignorance of some people, just simply talk…crap! Ummmm…you have a Sibu friend kah? I wonder who that is.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own.

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