(Closed) Chinese weddings gift culture???

posted 4 years ago in Gifts and Registries
Post # 2
14965 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

I’m Chinese and my husband is not.  We had one wedding (not Asian banquet style), he did NOT pay a dowry (c’mon, get with the times!), we kept *our* gifts…. oh and my parents paid for the reception.  None of what you said would sit right with me, she should be fighting this one with them.  

Post # 3
9527 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I have heard from a couple brides on this forum about parents keeping the money, whether it was a Chinese wedding or not. As for dowry, never heard of that. That cannot still be standard….

She needs to talk to her parents on this one. That is crazy

Post # 4
7416 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I’ve heard of the tradition of the parents of the bride keeping the gift money, but that is when they pay for the festivities.

Post # 5
78 posts
Worker bee

yikes. did she grow up in china? she should be understanding and sensitive to the issue. do not spend all your savings on a wedding and dowry………….. surely she herself wouldn’t want you to drain your bank account to appease her parents to start your lives together?

and fyi in china, yes, typically the groom’s family pays for the wedding but the reception is supposed to pay for itself because the guests are supposed to give cash gifts and receptions are usually less expensive in china than in the u.s.

Post # 6
429 posts
Helper bee

You should definitely talk to your fiance about this. Although I do like incorporating traditions, a lot of couples alter it a bit to keep up with the times. Did your fiance say her family gets to keep the gifts or this is based on what you’ve read about the tradition? Some of my friends had a traditional Asian wedding and did have an offering to the parents, but I highly doubt it was anything ridiculous as you mentioned. That’s insane! Plus these days, couples share the wedding expense. Good luck! I hope you can work something out! 

Post # 7
2600 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

benbenben:  Sure, that’s traditional in China…in the 16th century.


So, I’m many generations removed from China, but I have heard of the idea that th parents keep the wedding gifts, but that’s also related to them paying for the wedding. I suppose that you need to talk to your Fiance and figure out how to bridge this difference in expectations. At the end of the day, if you absolutely cannot see eye-to-eye, then you may have to forfeit  a large wedding nad just go elope!

Post # 9
144 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I’m not Chinese, but my Fiance is. Nothing like this was ever brought up. We expect his family to give us the gifts at our traditional tea ceremony, but pretty sure they’re going to us! Not anyone’s parents. As for the dowry … no one is purchasing anyone here — it’s 2016.

Post # 10
329 posts
Helper bee

I’m not the super expert on Chinese culture, but I feel like they’re not adhering to all aspects of that ultra traditional route. (Which I don’t think anyone even follows now.)

There is a dowry yes back in the olden days, but it is the bride that brings it with her. The groom has nothing to do with it. And yes, in the olden days the bride’s family does keep all the gifts, but the bride and groom hold separate receptions. The bride’s family keeps the gifts from the bride’s reception while groom keeps the gifts from his family. 

But not many people do it this way nowadays, at least in Hong Kong. Also these things are negotiable. It’s not a free for all. So it’s a bit weird. 

Post # 11
5886 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

benbenben:  That’s worth fighting over.

Just because it’s traditional doesn’t mean you have to do it.  You are two free humans choosing to make a life together.  You can negotiatie and decide on what is appropriate and what you are comfortable with together. 

Weddings often feel (and are!) frivilous.  But things like this remind us of one of the major USES of the engagement period.  By working together to plan a wedding, many couples end up confronting their deep seeded ideas about money, tradition, family boundaries, etc.  Having these discussions and negotiations now will help prepare you for marriage!  Don’t shy away from it.  Hash it out and find a solution you can both live with.

Post # 12
2966 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

cbgg:  By working together to plan a wedding, many couples end up confronting their deep seeded ideas about money, tradition, family boundaries, etc. Having these discussions and negotiations now will help prepare you for marriage!

Yes to all of this. OP, you guys should discuss your cultural differences at length; JIC finances and/or granting all of parents’ wishes are a bigger deal than you previously thought. 

Post # 13
78 posts
Worker bee

benbenben:  I’d make it clear to her and her parents that if you respect their wishes, you will be paying for it completely by youself (not your parents). Are you combining finances after you get married? This cost will essentially be shared with your Fiance because you draining your savings is the same as draining your combined savings. Make sure her parents understand that and are also ok with that.

Post # 14
220 posts
Helper bee


I’m Chinese, my Fiance isn’t. We don’t agree with the dowry, but he doesn’t want to drive a wedge in the family, especially since he’s worked so hard to get on their good side.
We decided that WE would split the dowry and leave his parents out of it, and telling my parents its from just Fiance (even though it isn’t).

I feel like for my parents, its less so about “yay we get more money to spend”, but more keeping with the tradition and status. As the only boy out of 9 sisters, my dad feels the pressure to abide by as many traditions as possible around family. Perhaps he’d be less inclined if we had a much smaller family/relatives? Things are expensive these days, and I tried to reason with him that the money could be going towards a downpayment. His response is that “its not that much, and its tradition.. tradition.. tradition…” sigh

I am confused as to why you are expected to pay for both banquets? If the bride + in laws are so set on tradition, then they should be sucking up the cost of the wedding (and thereby receiving the gifts in return). I feel like they’re trying to pull a fast one here, because it looks to me like they’re not spending anything. I would talk to the bride about this, as it doesn’t seem right.

The difference here is that we are also paying for the wedding, but we are also keeping the money and gifts.

Post # 15
121 posts
Blushing bee

I’m Chinese and when a number of my Asian friends got married, they paid for their own wedding be it they’re second/third generation Canadian or they’re fresh off the boat. The parents on both sides contributed by giving “lucky money” and didn’t get to keep anything. Oh, and never heard of a dowry before lol so this whole situation sounds pretty strange.

Do you know what her friends and family have done in the past? Who paid for what and how did they come to a consensus? Besides, it’s your wedding too and you definitely have a say in what goes on!!

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