Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hosting a Wedding Lunch/Dinner: Myths

My wife and I were fortunate to host two wedding receptions when our daughters got married. Fortunate in every sense that our daughters found suitable partners and the celebrations were happy occasions. From these receptions, which were held in relatively well established and well regarded venues in hotels, we experienced many types of feeling, both high and low. Some of the 'myths' which we encountered were:

1.  Make money from the reception:  The couple should be happy if they were able to break even in the expenditure of the whole wedding. In our cases, the collection from the guests just met the cost of the lunch/dinner. Our children did not chose the most expensive of menu, nor the cheapest. The money spent on the wedding car, photographs, etc were money that cannot be recuperated through the reception's collection.
Usually, the guests would estimate the Ang pow amount based on the location and the type of reception. There is a 'market rate' if they choose to find out. They would usually associate lunch to cost less, which is NOT the case, thus they give less. A modest lunch or dinner would cost at least $1200 and above, not including GST and service charges. Thus, to break even, at least $150 per guest.
From our experiences, the average collected for the lunch reception was about $120. There were many (50%) $100 angpows. Some were even down to $150 for three persons!! A case of $600 for a full table was also encountered....relatives, mah...could not be helped.We have heard about horror cases of  receiving 'empty' angpows.

2. Angpow amount related to socio economic status : Amongst our guests were some relatively 'rich' relatives and friends, by virtue that they are living in landed properties, condominium, or that they hold respective jobs or are business people. However, many of these people were rather pragmatic when they consider the amount to give for the reception. We were really surprised by the 'wrong perceptions' we have had of some of our relatives and friends. When counting the angpows for the second reception, we could guess correctly the amount certain friends or relatives would give based on the records of the first little change.
However, like it is often said, the presence of the invitees is the most precious gift a wedding couple can have, not the amount they may receive.

3. Punctuality: This is the bearbug for all Chinese weddings. It seemed to be in the veins of many Singaporeans especially the older folks, that one should not be early when attending a wedding reception. This is to avoid being branded as a 'Yeow Kwee' or ' hungry ghost' . This kind of ancient thinking should be banished! There were many times that I have to wait at least 30 minutes from the stated dinner starting time in the invite (usually either 1300 or 1730 hours) for the reception to start. On a few instances, it was not till 2045 before the couple enters and dinner starts. Then, the dinner would end at 2300......It was very frustrating for those who were punctual.
Fortunately for us, both our receptions started about 15 mins after the stated time, usually waiting to the limit for one or two 'known' latecomers. We insisted on starting on time even though some guests had not arrived yet. We have about 95% of our guests who were punctual. Such good achievement could be the effect of us calling our guests 2 or 3 days before the reception, to remind them about the occasion and also succinctly tell them to be on time.

4.  Guests give pro rata angpows according to the venue: There could be some truth in such a perception as the guests might equate 'excellent' and this 'expensive' food with the well regarded venue or hotel in which the reception was held. The angpows would surely be considerably less if it is held at the HDB void deck or community hall, with scant regard to the quality of food.
However, holding a reception in a 5-star hotel might give the prestigious impression, but it would definitely set the couple back financially unless they are well-heeled or were financially backed.

5. Turnout of invited guests: Do not assume that all would turn up if there is no RVSP responses. Only the polite and courteous ones would call to mention their absence. The absentees on the reception day would be quite embarrassing if there were many tables with unoccupied seats, let alone the decreased collection. We called many of our guests, especially those older folks and those with 'reputation', a few days before the reception to confirm their attendance. It should not surprise one to hear about their forgetfulness on the date, venue and time or that they would want to bring additional guests whom were not listed, eg their grandchild, helper, etc. One needs firmness to deal sensitively with such cases. No means NO in a polite way!

                                             The venues in which we hosted our receptions

We related and reflected on our experiences not to slight anybody or to grind an axe with anyone. If anyone knew us and read this please do not be offended by our comments or references as we had never meant this to be offensive or hurting.

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