Greeting, My fiancé told me this a few months ago when we started getting serious about our relationship and talking about marriage. She tells me that it is a custom in TW for the groom to give money to the parents of the bride. She says it is for the wedding cookies. I am ok with it even though she says it’s 5000 USD, but out of curiosity I want to know if it is a custom or not.
Some giving of the monies to future-in-laws is a custom. How they dress up the “give me your money” spiel varies from family to family.
5000 USD though, is quite a sum for the average Taiwanese family. How many cookies are they planning to give out?
welcome, and yes your bank acount will feel lighter soon
I’ve spent around 3000 Euros for my mariage (Many parts have been canceled by my wife familly, so it was a bit cheaper than a true ‘normal’ Taiwanese mariage )
but yes 5000USD is an average price for Taiwan (but it can be much more… )
the most expensive part will be the weeding photos. The cheapest price in Taipei is around 40000NT$, and it can go until more than 100000NT$ depend of what you choose… :s
When I questioned her about this, she said she has a huge family and the will all show up for the engagment party and wedding reception. Her parents are going to pay for everything so all I need to do is give the money for the cookies…I asked her if I could just bake some cookies to give out… She is 33 and everyone has been waiting for her to get married so this has to be done the traditional tw way.
What does that mean? Are they paying for the reception? Well, no they aren’t because guests give those nice little red envelopes to pay for that. Are they paying for your wedding pictures? Wedding rings? Etc.
I suggest you don’t give the money and buy the cookies yourself. Or go when the cookies are ordered and see exactly how much they cost and pay then and there. Also, make sure that the money from the wedding goes to YOU and not the parents. Chinese weddings don’t usually cost anything as you make your expenses up from the red envelope money. Many couples make extra money, which is the whole point. You aren’t supposed to go into debt here.
The giving the parents money is not for cookies anyway but a tradition of essentially buying the bride from the parents. They sound like they are just dressing it up for you. And not all families do it. My wife’s father thought it was a barbaric tradition. Selling his daughter?
If you want to go the traditional way and listen nicely to everything you are told to do, you will very likely find yourself regretting it later. Listen to some of the stories around Forumosa. Families will take advantage of you if they can.
No it doesn’t. That’s a load of shit. You better do this the way you and she want it done. Seriously. Don’t think it ends with one little bow to tradition.
Gotta add my agreement with what Mucha Man is telling you. If you start agreeing to this “Traditional” extortion now you will regret it later.
My wife & I discussed this for about 3 minutes. I told her firmly that I thought I was the one that should be getting the $$'s for moving here and marrying her.(I was not serious about it, she’s a fine woman) She told this to her parents and the silence on their end was deafening.
I also made it clear that there would be NO monthly red envelopes to them from ‘us.’
You do know about this quaint “Tradition” don’t you?
one thing is the wife’s relatives will give cash directly to them, after getting the cookies. these people won’t give again at the wedding. so it is something of a dowry in disguise. i agree $5000 sounds like a lot, but if they are paying for everything, which can add up, it sounds fairly reasonable. normally it would bu husband’s relatives and friends that would be giving at wedding and helping to “recoup” husband’s expenditures. i realize this may not be applicable to your situation but personally i would have preffered to keep the finances of everything under my control. having said that i disagree with the above two posters, there are times to put your foot down to tradition and times to go with the flow, i think “weddings” in general fall into the latter category. i wouldn’t feel embarrassed about discussing the amount though if you feel it is unreasonable
Hmm, food for thought…I think I am going to ask her “If I am buying her from her parents, and if it makes her my property (just kidding)” The only real issue I have with the whole deal is 5 grand is a shit load of money, and things are so cheap over there I feel that I am going to be buying cookies for the whole population :0 Her parents are going to pay for the rent of the building, food, honeymoon and pictures. My gf says that around 200 family and freinds will show up so hopefully we will recoup some of my losses…got to love the red envelops
I know about the monthly envelops to her parents, but she is the one who is paying them…she gives her mom about 20,000nt a month, when I get there and we get married, she says she is still going to give her that same 20k a month. She has told me her mom did not ask her to do this, it is something she does on her own free will. I kindly explained to her that I WOULD not be giving them any kind of monthly money after we are married, but I can’t control what she does.
I don’t think her parents are greedy or hurting for money as 20 years ago they had millions but lost it in a bad buisiness deal and all the have left is the 100 or so acers that they farm rice on. They seem to be well off by tw standards. She said that they will also give her (us) a parcel of land to build a house on if we choose to stay in tw…hmm that might all depend on them!
I know what you’re saying but think about it…how many people were spending US$5000 or the equivalent 100 years ago, or even 50? How many were spending 3 months salary on glossy wedding photos? We’re not talking tradition here at all, unless you mean good old fashioned face-saving, and the ineluctable needs of the nouveau riche to show off their money.
I know what you’re saying but think about it…[color=darkred]how many people were spending US$5000 or the equivalent 100 years ago, or even 50? How many were spending 3 months salary on glossy wedding photos? We’re not talking tradition here at all[/color], unless you mean good old fashioned face-saving, and the ineluctable needs of the nouveau riche to show off their money.[/quote]
MuchaMan has made an excellent point here. This tradition idea tends to morph with the times.
We had our little legal ceremony a couple months ago. I paid for everything. Breakfast with her family at a DimSum restaurant, after ceremony dinner party with friends, legal costs, rings, her new summer dress she wore, and a nice little gift from me to her. Total cost: about $600 US. Not much at all. I had no problems with it at all. However…
Her family is puting pressure on her to have her larger wedding soon; as in sometime next year. Her mom mentioned the cost to be 400,000 NT (about $12,500 US) and that she expects us to pay for it. The minute I heard that number I put my foot down and said no way. Then I was given the blow of an addition sum to be given to her mother every month starting January. Again, I said no.
She protested my objection. She said her mom paid for her university tuition and extras while she was going to school. She says that she needs to pay her back, she feels it is her familial obligation. We came to the agreement that the money she earns from her job is hers, and she can do with it as she sees fit, after contributing a certain percent to our personal family savings. So that part is settled.
Back to the wedding costs: I reminded her that we are on a poor man’s budget as it is. We share an apartment with two other people, I am not employed yet (waiting for the JFRV), and she is still paying off some personal debts. How on earth was she planning on coming up with this enormous sum of money by next year? Her answer: Credit.
She argued that the red envelopes would pay back any debt we incurred. I did the math: 200 guests bringing an envelope each. Keep in mind that the wedding will be in a rural part of Kaohsiung. People don’t have a whole lot of money to spare there. NT 1000 is an accurate and realistic estimate for each envelope. 200 guests x NT 1000 = 200,000 NT; Half of what is needed to break even.
I am debt free. I worked my tail end off in the states to be debt free. There is no way I am going to go into debt for this. That is just an insane idea.
We are starting a life together. We are happy living in Taipei, away from the family and independant. We are starting to save money together and wipe out her existing debt (which isnt much), this is a good thing and is making progress for a happy financial future together. Accumulating a huge debt at a time of happiness, such as a wedding should be, wipes out the happiness of it and adds a burden of unnecesary financial obligation and responsability.
Where I stand now: I will pay for cookies ( I am even going to make some of my own; a personal request from the fmaily), that is fine. But I will be contributing no more than that. Her family can pay for the wedding and they can keep any envelopes given up to the cost of the wedding expenses. The rest goes to the Bride.
We have not come to terms yet.
So, I hope this gives you some insight on what you are currently facing and what you will be facing in the near future. I concur with MuchaMan, stand your ground if you feel this is not reasonable.
What the…that’s a lot of cookies!
And doesn’t the brides family usually make a profit on the wedding anyway? Hongbao from the guests and all that. Why do they need you to help pay for it?
The whole thing just sounds weird. Tell the little gold digger to get her fingers out of your wallet or you’ll boot her back to Luxy where you found her
[quote=“Quarters”]Then I was given the blow of an addition sum to be given to her mother every month starting January. Again, I said no.
She protested my objection. She said her mom paid for her university tuition and extras while she was going to school. She says that she needs to pay her back, she feels it is her familial obligation. We came to the agreement that the money she earns from her job is hers, and she can do with it as she sees fit, after contributing a certain percent to our personal family savings. So that part is settled. [/quote]
Good call. You simply cannot upset this particular apple cart so late in the game. Obviously the folks made their investment some time back and have been waiting for thw pay off. That was the norm when they did that. To deny them money is to screw them over.
As for the rest, the outrageously priced bickies and pics are the easiest to dump. Likewise further down the track that gross lunchbox of oily rice, chicken leg and two red eggs to announce a son surviving the first month. I wonder how many peiople have died after eating those luke warm crap packs?
Anthropologists distinguish between “bride price” cultures (groom pays bride’s family for going to all that trouble of raising her for him) and "dowry’ cultures (bride’s family compensates groom for cost of maintaining her from now on). Chinese culture knows of both traditions. Historically the groom would often pay a bride-price, while the bride’s family would make costly gifts of clothing or house furnishings. But this has varied a lot by region, period, family tradition, and personal circumstances (i.e. who’s richer).
And of course when people from two (or more!) cultures marry, exceptions are going to have to get made. Perhaps you could inform them, straight-faced, that you come from a dowry-based culture, but would be willing to resolve all financial disputes over a game of poker…?
My parents-in-law graciously excused me from having to pay for my wife, apparently because they don’t feel they need the money, while we had a lot of expenses around then. But her older sister got bought, perhaps because her fiance makes more money than I do!
Don’t be fooled into thinking this bride-price “tradition” is a Chinese tradition. It’s not. It’s Taiwanese, and in my opinion is nothing more than a greedy scam. The “engagement cookies” racket is just that - a racket - with the Nu-er Hong company laughing its way to the bank for selling grossly overpriced cookies. And believe you me, US$5000 sounds horribly excessive for those cookies.
Yes, follow the advice above: price the cookies yourself, and see if anything besides Nu-er Hong is OK. Don’t give any hongbao to the parents. Make sure the wedding hongbao all go to defray the costs of the wedding, with anything left over going to you and your bride. Ideally, the parents should end up losing nothing and gaining nothing financially from this event; you should also be able to recoup your losses.
Stand your ground.
i am all for doing things cheapo to save money for the future (house etc.) …
that said, be careful how many times you put your foot down. i relented on the wedding shots because my wife really wanted them done - not for others here, but for herself. in fact, they are now in vancouver in my parents’ house (we’ll move there sometime “soon”), and they are shown to all their visitors, who more often than not gush over them (must be the photo quality or my wife, as those who have seen me would agree to).
the “fee” for marrying her i did manage to quash, along with a few other things. don’t think we made any money on the wedding, but neither did we lose any. most of all, she was/is happy …
I recently bought one-month birthday cookies for my daughter. I got really boxes, from one of the better cookie stores, for $500 each. I did see some wedding cookies advertised online for $900/box but I don’t think you need to pay that much, I can’t find the link to the cookie store though.
About the cookies, they are for the engagement right, and the girls’ family gets that money. Doesn’t the groom arrange the wedding then get that money? We didn’t have an engagement so we missed all that, and these days lots of couples combine the engagement and wedding, so there is room for discussion. Also, the groom’s family traditionally prepares gifts for the bride, I got gold bracelets and some other gifts, it was all kept pretty symbolic here but I can imagine some families will be more traditional. You might want to start talking about things like does the bride expect to wear two gold bracelets on her wedding day?
As for the wedding, we had a lovely wedding here in Taiwan. And it didn’t cost us that much. We did not get the wedding packages offered and we didn’t have things like balloon arches by the door (9000 for a bunch of balloons, hmmm, no…). To give you an idea:
Wedding dress (incl. gloves and veil) $800 off yahoo auction, there are hundreds for sale there.
Silk, custom-made outfit for bride, bridesmaids, and flowergirls 15,000 for fabric and tailoring, including a traditional Chinese chi-pao - this was that “one thing” that a poster above was talking about, men you do have to relent on SOMETHING.
Table arrangements - candles 50 each from HOLA, rose petals free from florist (as opposed to the quote of 550 per table by the restaurant)
Wedding cards - 100+ cards for 5,000, custom printed by local printer, red “velvet”
Photographs, none, we had a very nice oil painting done instead, by a relative
Food - great food done for 10,000 per table, people still talk about our food and wine
Alcohol - we negotiated no corkage and bought our wine from the wine store for 250/bottle, with option to return any unopened cases
Makeup free, a friend did it in return for not having to give a red envelope
Of course many local women won’t accept such a wedding but honestly it was much nicer than the package you can buy for way too much money, we were more involved in the planning and our friends got to get involved, too. Just some ideas for you.
I sold my 1972 VW bug and turned it into cookies. God I miss that car.
Oh really? Then what is this reference bride price (pin4jin1) of 50 taels doing in this early 17th century story collection?
It also figures in the Nazheng 納徵 ritual in the ancient six Chinese marriage rituals (六禮).
Bride prices are very much part of all Chinese cultural traditions including the Han Taiwanese branch. That said, tradition is negotiable, and many moden Taiwanese and Chinese find this particular tradition offensive. You almost certainly don’t have to do this unless you want to.