Most people have expectations about the minimum amount you should gift newlyweds in red packets, but not all guests follow the norms. In the latest episode of The Zoe and Liang Show, hosted by Zoe Tay and Guo Liang, the hosts and their guests — radio DJ Zhu Zeliang and television host Seow Sin Nee — shared their thoughts and experiences of wedding banquets.
While many would assume celebrities’ weddings are heavily sponsored, Zoe, 55, asserted otherwise.
“People thought it was sponsored but we paid for it ourselves. Somebody even gave a $20 ang bao (red packet),” Zoe shared.
Guo Liang, 54, suggested: “The market rate [for how much to give] differs according to the times. It’s to cover the cost of our own meal, and also to give blessings to the couple.”
Zoe added that the amount is influenced by one’s ties to the wedding couple, while Sin Nee, 27, shared that she would give $388 worth of red packets while attending the wedding banquets of close friends.
Both youngsters — Zeliang, 26, and Sin Nee — quipped that some couples could earn money from holding weddings. However, there was a caveat.
“They have to invite the right people, like bosses who will give bigger red packets,” Zeliang reckoned.
‘They may regret it if they don’t hold a banquet’
Some may feel that banquets burn too large of a hole in one’s pockets and opt to skip them, but Zoe is still a banquet loyalist.
“There are a lot of negotiations involved in the [wedding planning] process and the couple will understand each other better,” Zoe shared. “It’s also a dream for many women, and they may regret it if they don’t hold a banquet.”
Sin Nee agreed, though she specifically wanted a small, cosy banquet.
The two men, however, seemed to hold drastically different views from the women.
Guo Liang insisted there was no need to hold a wedding banquet, that it was troublesome to coordinate so many things, and that a sense of ritual could be achieved through alternate means, like inviting friends over for tea or a meal.
“A lot of young people don’t want to hold a banquet, and they do it just to satisfy parents’ preferences,” Zeliang acknowledged.
However, after Zeliang recognised that the wedding is “the last round of romance” for the couple and protests from Zoe and Sin Nee, Guo Liang changed his mind, to their delight.
“I’d say let the woman decide. It’s a memorable day after all,” Guo Liang relented.
Guo Liang also posed the question of whether celebrities feel more pressured to stand out in their weddings, be it in banquets or photo shoots.
“It doesn’t even matter whether one is an artiste — everybody wants their wedding to be unique,” Sin Nee quipped.
Discussing their ideal weddings, Sin Nee wanted hers to be a cosy indoor wedding with 10 to 12 tables, while Zeliang wanted his to be held outdoors.
Though he said: “I won’t not hold it in Singapore so that it would not be so hot and humid and uncomfortable.”
He added that he would even pay to fly his closest friends over specially for the wedding.
Sceptical about the affordability of his plan, Guo Liang said: “I will help you buy Toto.”
‘Guests are trying not to outshine the bride’
The conversation then moved on to their observations about wedding fashion.
Zeliang noted that most men would look forward to seeing their beloved dress up nicely, while Zoe echoed his view, saying that the bride always looks the most stunning at the banquet.
Guo Liang had his own insight though: “It’s because the guests are trying not to outshine the bride, in order to be polite.”
It clearly resonated with the rest, who said that it would be rude for guests to be more dressed-up than the bride.
Sin Nee also wanted her wedding dress to be a surprise for her potential groom: “He can’t see my wedding dress before walking down the aisle,” Sin Nee shared determinedly.
Zeliang preferred to see the dress before the big day, but left it up to his future fiancee’s preference, while Guo Liang reckoned he had “no concept of wedding dresses.”
He said: “They are all beautiful, everything looks the same to me.”
Both Sin Nee and Zoe asserted that what mattered most was the bride liking her wedding dress and being happy.
Do wedding photos matter?
While the size of banquets are up for discussion, many would at least consider taking professional wedding shots.
But Zoe wasn’t bothered by these norms.
“I don’t have an album, we just took it ourselves,” she shared. “It’s so lavish nowadays.”
Both Zeliang and Guo Liang, who had previously been sceptical about banquets, now united to emphasise the importance of taking professional wedding photos.
Guo Liang expressed his regrets: “Our wedding photos were so big that it was awkward; should we hang them or store them away? I wished we had taken smaller photos outdoors, so we could have put them in photo albums.
“Most of you feel that the purpose of shoots is to have the photos, but I think that’s wrong. It’s about capturing the memories.”