Wedding guests need to give more generously than ever

With the average cost of a banquet above HK$600 a head, giving less than that won’t do

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 12:58pm
 

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If you want to be a welcome guest at your friend's wedding, be prepared to stuff more than HK$600 in your gift envelope.

It seems the woman who got Hong Kong talking when she used Facebook to tell would-be guests not to come to her banquet unless they paid more than HK$500 has a point.

Getting married is expensive, and the lion's share of the cost is the wedding banquet, a traditional must-have in Chinese society. Although friends invited to the dinner can pay whatever amount they want, an ESDlife survey covering 1,768 respondents found that a sum less than HK$612 would be unlikely to cover the food and beverage costs.

The website, which offers information about wedding-related services to couples, conducts an annual survey on the cost of getting married. The most recent survey found that couples paid an average of HK$282,317 on their weddings, 6 per cent more than last year. They spent an average of HK$147,173 on banquets, which usually involved about 240 guests at 20 tables.

"Giving HK$500 is not quite enough [to cover banquet costs]," ESDlife research manager Jeremy Mou Chi-wah said.

The woman, whose post went viral, said: "I don't want to create economic difficulties for you, but I'm not operating a charity." She was upset that people paid the same amount (HK$500) for dinners at restaurants and hotels.

For those worried about how much to pay, the survey may offer clues. Respondents paid a median of HK$1,000, HK$800, HK$700 and HK$500 for banquets held at a high-end hotel, standard hotel, high-end restaurant and standard restaurant respectively.

The survey found that couples spent an average of HK$43,323 on rings and jewellery this year, 39 per cent more than last year. Banquet spending rose just 1 per cent.

"Instead of one-off events like banquets, couples are willing to spend more on jewellery, which can help them fend off inflation," Mou said.

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