The Moment – a wedding special

Hong Kong brides are spoilt for choice when it comes to wedding gifts

Workshop, online and retail wedding-gift registry services offer couples more than traditional lai see

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:30am

Whether you’re looking for a small token to mark the occasion or a significant addition to the newlywed home, homeware outlets offer a range of luxurious items that make an ideal gift.

Double Happiness was the first to offer an online wedding gift registry service in Hong Kong, spotting a niche that goes against the grain of giving monetary gifts to the bride and groom. The online service puts more than 70 retailers at the fingertips of the happy couple and their guests, making it one of the easiest, one-stop-shop options for everyone. Brands range from well-known international names that cover everything from coffee machines, cookware and crockery, to unique home accessories by lesser known boutique brands.

Double Happiness also offers a Gifts of Charity fund with organisations ranging from arts and animals to those for children and the less-privileged, and an Experience fund launched in response to a recent trend for a more unique twist to gift-giving. Couples can ask guests to contribute to a chosen experience, which in the past have included wine tours to South Africa; a private sitting with an artist to product a portrait of the couple; and a honeymoon on a sailing boat, complete with crew.

Experience experts Spoilt says it has noticed a growing desire among guests to find gifts that are meaningful.

We are seeing more Western-style weddings in which people would be more inclined to give gifts rather than lai see
Michelle Lam, managing director, The Spoilt Experiences Group

“We are seeing more Western-style weddings in which people would be more inclined to give gifts rather than lai see. Giving a gift that impresses people has also been a healthy challenge among family and relatives in recent years, and while some still give lai see as a traditional way to bless the couple, many top it up with a gift to wrap up their blessing,” says Michelle Lam, managing director at The Spoilt Experiences Group.

In response, it has added new experiences for couples, including an Andy Warhol pop art workshop, a baking workshop with former Mandarin Oriental pastry chef Koo, and a private dialogue in the dark tour, where participants are guided through an exhibition of real-life Hong Kong settings in darkness to “heighten all other senses”.

According to homeware outlet Tequila Kola, the concept of a gift registry is gaining ground among Chinese couples who “find it more fun to choose gifts rather than receive lai see”, says managing director, Geoff Fuller.

Its vast warehouse is full of statement pieces of furniture and eclectic soft furnishings that change with the seasons, and its staff will help the couple navigate stock and manage their registry; they’ll even wrap and deliver once guests have made their picks. Popular items for weddings include Tequila Kola’s own satin bed linen and cushion covers, and gold-rimmed photograph frames.

Heather and March is the go-to place for luxurious, European homeware, where crockery by brands such as Ercuis and Raynaud are popular picks for gift registries, according to the outlet. Brands largely are sourced from France but Germany as well, with a registry service operating on a traditional forum. The couple hand pick items in-store to create their gift list, which is then circulated to guests, who can purchase items in the store.

Christofle provides a similar service, with silverware and crystal glassware among its most popular wedding gift picks. It says it has seen an increase in young couples registering for its service instead of lai see, especially those that “have a love of designer homeware influenced by their parents, and young professionals pursuing a high-quality lifestyle”.

Heather and March and Christofle can also be added to a digital registry service provided by their landlord, The Landmark. The registry can include any of the brands in the mall, ranging from Baccarat crystal and top-of-the-range kitchenware at Pan Handler, to gourmet treats from La Maison du Chocolat or The Whisky Library. The only caveat is that guests must purchase from individual outlets.

With more couples living together before they wed, some may ask guests to donate funds to their favourite charity in lieu of gifts or lai see. However, the practice of giving money to the couple is still strong, says Joan Auyung, a partner at White Bridal. “It is a convenient way of gifting” the couple, and they can use the money for whatever they want, she says.