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Money For Wedding Gift + Chinese Wedding Lai-See


It’s definitely becoming more popular to ask for money as a wedding gift rather than having a traditional gift list. Whether this is towards your honeymoon or new items for your home, gone are the days where couples would like their aunties and uncles to buy items they’re really not fond of. Of course, other popular choices are gift lists created by yourself at department stores; such as John Lewis, Selfridges and Debenhams. Coming from a Chinese family, it’s very normal to me that money in red envelopes are gifted to the bride and groom…

I’ve grown up knowing that this is acceptable and the most welcomed way to gift newlyweds {as well as new borns, during birthday celebrations and Chinese new year}

I wanted to share this post in particular with couples who would like to ask guests to use the traditional Lai-See {Chinese red envelopes} for their wedding gift instead of a traditional gift list – in a pleasant way! In Hong Kong and China, it’s common guests will know that a Lai-See is the most popular way to gift however, it may seem a slightly cheeky request if you’re not familiar with the traditions or even more to the point, if your guests have never heard of it.

When I got married, Paul and I had 50% family and friends who would have only given us a Lai-See and 50% of family and friends who have never even seen or touched one! So to ease any confusion and the feeling of cheekiness when asking for cash on our part, we posted out the invitations with a new empty lai-see, then included a web address for them to visit. As the site was totally customised to us, I created a Gift page along with details about our wedding day. This included pages such as the venue, timings of the day and who the wedding party are – also what each and every one of them mean to us. On our gift page, I added my very own gift poem. I may have at the time taken some inspiration from other poems out there… but this was the result! I hope this may help you and once you change the words to suit yourself, it really is a nice added touch to your day.


We have toasters and bins

We have all the other things

We have TV and DVDs

We have many old CDs


We hope to have your precious company

To witness the start of our matrimony

The joys of you joining us

To celebrate our wedding day


The two different cultures united together

The two of us never to be without each other

But shall you decide to attend with a gift

May we ask your token towards our honeymoon trip


The trip of our beginning

The start to our forever

May the Lai See that we have given

Be your part in the Chinese tradition


Your greatly appreciated gift

Of any amount you wish

In this red packet sealed

Is to bring us many years of joy, happiness and health


May we sincerely thank you all for being our dearest family and friend

But most of all…

The greatest present indeed is your precious presence

Our day will not be the same without your essence


Carms & Paul

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  • Janelle - Did you get any Chinese relatives/people feeling that this is an offensive and rude way of asking for a gift? Most older Chinese generation people shy away from asking for money even though this is what is expected. what are the reactions to including an empty red envelope along with the invitation?July 25, 2012 – 8:51 pm

  • Carms - Oh wow! I have just noticed that my response was never posted to you Janelle. So sorry. We never had anyone question or said it was rude because we only placed an empty red envelope to guests who are not familiar with the tradition – and they loved the idea! They felt included in the tradition and liked the idea not having to think about bringing a gift/ ordering through a gift list. The older Chinese generation gifted us a lai-see as they would normally.December 5, 2012 – 11:21 pm

  • Elaine Shih - Dear Carmen,

    Regarding the story of “Red envelope”..I was searching on the internet for long. Then I have founded that the poem you wrote is amazing and currently we also have the same problem of explaining the “Red Envelope”.
    Would be possible we use this amazing poem from you 🙂

    Wish you a very nice day
    ElaineApril 15, 2014 – 8:17 pm

  • Carms - Hello Elaine,
    Absolutely! Please go ahead and use it – I’m so glad it’s helpful to you. Happy wedding planning!April 18, 2014 – 11:49 am

  • annie - Handing out an empty lai see is considered bad luck; you’re supposed to put in a token amount even if it is to ask for a monetary gift in return.

    I am of Chinese descent and have only received one wedding invitation where a there was a blatant request for cash and included a red envelope for this purpose; there was a lot of chatter amongst other invitees about the tackiness, but of course, we didn’t dare bring it up to the bride and groom. Your poem insinuates that a gift isn’t mandatory but also seems to dictate that cash would be the most appropriate gift.

    I don’t have a problem with monetary gift registries, but it should be done in a gracious and subtle manner, never forgetting that wedding presents are both optional and at the discretion of the giver. Including a red envelope to announce what you want is a bit in-you-face to me.May 5, 2014 – 4:47 pm

  • Carms - Hi Annie,

    Thank you for your input as I’m sure you’re expressing a viewpoint in which some of my other readers may have thought the same!

    When we started to plan our wedding over 5 years ago there were no wedding gift registries other than companies who offered household goods – which unfortunately really didn’t suit us. Plus at the time, asking for a little gift towards a honeymoon didn’t seem to be something which was so much frowned upon.

    At the time, we only enclosed a lai-see to guests who wouldn’t know where to obtain one from and even so, when we met/ spoke to them prior to our big day, we ensured they knew it wasn’t the amount they put into the lai-see which mattered to us, it was making our guests feel they were somehow included in our Chinese inspired day.

    Now almost 5 years since our big day, would I change the way I planned this part of the wedding? Most likely. I would perhaps ask guests to donate to a chosen charity instead.

    Every aspect of wedding planning seems to have changed immensely in such a short space of time and I guess, regardless of whether I’m a planner or bride, you do what you feel is right for you at the time.May 12, 2014 – 9:39 pm

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