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As the editor of two bridal magazines, I have attended numerous weddings and celebrations – it’s really a job requirement of mine! Besides those of close friends and relatives, there were others I attended partly for work or out of respect and obligation.

I am always mindful of the gifts or ang pows that I give to the newlyweds; like every other guest, I often wonder how much to pack for the red packet (I am an editor after all, not a millionaire!), or should I be giving something more than money. With time and experience, I’ve developed a ‘template/solution’ of sorts for my gift giving, a formula that is fuss free and simple.

The first step is to always find out what the couple needs besides money. If it’s really money they want, then stick to the red packets. If they have other needs, whether it’s for the honeymoon, house or wedding celebration, you can ask what they need and gift them accordingly. Here are some options.

MONEY NOT ENOUGH
The yearly guide suggesting how much to pack for red packets for dinners at different hotels by www.weddingangbao.com is very useful. For example 6-star hotel dinner venues list larger sums compared to 3 or 4-star establishments. I follow the list as well but usually top the suggested amount up by another $40 or $50 as a norm. This means I won’t be the guest giving the least amount, nor will I burn a hole in my pocket by packing too much.

MORE THAN MONEY
For personal friends and close relatives, I make an effort to gift something more than the usual ang pow.  In situations like this, you can stick to amount dictated by the guide AND buy a nice gift as an added personal gesture.  

If you are close to the newlyweds, think of a gift that is useful but not too utility-based. A pretty picture frame is nice (newly-weds will want to display their wedding pictures), or even a sterling silver ring box for the couple to keep their treasured wedding bands. Think more personal gifts for him and her, unless they request for something more specific. If the couple has a gift registry or list you can refer to, that will make things easier for you.

The other option is give them gift cards or credit vouchers. With the proliferation of online shopping sites, and travel sites, you can always get a voucher or establish a credit account from a trustworthy site that will fulfil their needs – air tickets for their honeymoon, furnishings for a new home or even a relaxing spa treatment to beat the stress of wedding prep.

FREE SERVICES
If you have a certain creative ability or talent you can contribute to the wedding planning or actual day celebrations, that’s something you can also ‘gift’ to the couple on top of your red packet. Friends who love taking pictures or perform in a choir or live band as a hobby, can actually help the couple save money on their wedding by contributing their services. Same go for graphic artists (who can design the invitations for free) or gal pals who love baking (there’s your dessert buffet!). Don’t be afraid to offer your services; it may be something the couple never thought of but I am sure they will appreciate the gesture and savings.

Got any wedding-related questions? We’re happy to help! Please drop us an e-mail at sthio@sph.com.sg should you wish to submit your queries. Please note that your queries and our responses may be featured in the magazine, or on the website.