SG Budget Babe
Asked on 11 Jan 2020
How is this normally done and how do we negotiate this? For traditional Chinese weddings, does the guy have to buy tables for the lady side?
I'd recommend all parties sit down and discuss the details. That's what I did. Assuming you haven't booked the banquet, here are some non-exhaustive points to be thrown up for discussion:
Number of tables
Guo Da Li expectations, e.g. Si Dian Jing, etc
An idea of the expected guest list
I had to buy tables for the ladies side, and I understand that this is generally expected. You may discuss the number of tables as well, and how the ang bao monies may be accounted for under this arrangement.
As a wedding is between two families, you can consider letting the parents lead the discussion first, and chip in where needed. It is good to prepare by having a certain idea of what you and your parents expect, and then negotiate from there.
Normally, the parents will do the talking while the couple take down notes. The negotiations are usually done after the meeting to avoid awkward moments.
A few things to take note:
1) Dowry - an amount that the male side have to give to “buy” the daughter during 过大礼. And the in-laws are supposed to return part of it to show that they are generous. Some in-laws will ask for a certain figure while some will say up to you.
2) 过大礼 - what items do the in-laws want, you’re supposed to bring pig trotters as well as wine/hard liquor (usually Martell) amongst other things. Again, some in-laws might have some requirements. If they don’t, ask them if they prefer roasted pig or canned pig trotters and do they prefer wine or hard liquor.
3) 四点金 - this is given from the guy’s parents to the bride during 过大礼. What I know is, generally in-laws don’t have any requirements because it’s from the guy’s side given to the bride. Depending on how traditional are the parents, some might not give during 过大礼 and give during the tea ceremony.
4) Tables - as a gesture, the guy side have to buy tables for the lady’s side. This is the part where the in-law will “name their price” on how many tables. That’s where the meeting will be more intense.
My advice, is to have a discussion with your future wife on what kind of wedding you guys want first. Then preamp the parents on what are their requirements before meeting, so that it’s more or less “negotiated” before meeting.
Focus on the meeting to be a joyous occasion where both families meet and eat and not just to discuss how much the daughter is worth and how much the guy has to pay.
Lastly, don’t splurge on the wedding. If you have attended a lot of weddings, you will see your friends being so tired and worn out just for one day. Pick something intimate, invite the “necessary” guests and enjoy the wedding. The money saved can be put into greater use like housing or honeymoon.
Be aligned with your wife first before you go for the meeting. If both of you already have a fixed budget and idea in mind, then it is easier to get her to support you when negotiating with your future in-laws.