(Closed) Estimate of costs for Asian wedding reception

posted 4 years ago in East Asian
Post # 2
119 posts
Blushing bee

michelleq611:  First off, stop thinking about the red envelopes, seriously. Yes, you will get some, but that is not the point of the wedding, you should not be counting on it, and you should not be thinking about it. It will make you a happier person, especially when someone inevitably DOESN’T give you one, or gives you one with less than $200. If you count on it and then don’t get it, it will make you bitter and angry and that way lies disaster. You WILL get some money, but don’t assume how much.

I am from LA, and I am not having an Asian ceremony or a reception at a Chinese restaurant, but I’ve been to plenty and have a general idea of cost for Asian weddings in San Gabriel Valley. Many of my vendors ARE Asian. 

Makeup and hair: mine is costing $100. 

DJ: Chinese restaurants do not usually provide, you’ll have to find someone. You can probably find someone for less than $1k tho.

Flowers: unless you want specific flowers like peonies, that’s a high estimate. You can do all of that from Costco’s online floral department for around $300 if you just want roses. Even if you want to find a florist, that sounds high. 

Centerpieces: I got mine for my reception from an Asian florist for $50/table, but that’s considered cheap and they’re pretty small. If you have 300 guests, that’s about 30 tables, so $1500 is about right if you don’t mind a smaller centerpiece.

Chair decoration rentals: no idea

Corkage: sounds about right. You can also get quality alcohol from Costco for less, if you plan on serving something besides cognac (which you probably should, not everyone is a cognac drinker). 

Dress: I would definitely buy dresses in China if you’re going anyway. You can get them custom made for very little money. 

Photography: I have an Asian photographer for my reception for $800. 

Wedding planner: I used an Asian wedding planner for my reception (priceless, you need someone who can communicate with all the crazy older relatives). She’s doing it as a wedding present because she’s a family friend, but she usually costs around $1500. If you have 300 guests, DO NOT SKIP THIS. She will keep your day flowing smoothly and save you a lot of stress and headache. She will be able to soothe your non-English speaking great uncles while you spend time with your friends. Also, she will have contacts and save you TONS of money. My planner found my photographer, my florist, my makeup/hair person, and negotiated with the venue for extra perks and upgrades. 


Best of luck! You will have a beautiful wedding. Let me know if you have other questions about dealing with crazy Asians, I am related to a lot of them. Also, I may be a crazy Asian myself. 


PS – sorry if I sounded harsh about the red envelope, that’s a personal pet peeve coming out. A cousin of mine got married and SENT ALL OF US RED ENVELOPES so we wouldn’t forget to include money!! Then she spent the entire wedding talking about how another cousin (who is up to his ears in debt) only sent like $100. It really annoyed me. But I genuinely do think you’ll be happier if you have no expectations; you WILL get money, but don’t think of it as recouping wedding expenses, think of it as bonus money for a downpayment/a great vacation/etc.!

Post # 4
164 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I did not get married in Cali, so prices might not compare. I married an Asian guy, and some of our vendors were Asian, but not all. My budget breakdown for a Sunday brunch wedding on the East Coast was roughly:

Reception (food, bar, service): $55/person (held at Asian restaurant)

Cake: $6/slice

Flowers: $1200 (included bouquets, corsages, boutinieres and 13 small centerpieces)

Invites and postage: $2.75/each (DIY)

Photographer: $1600 (3.5 hours of coverage)

Hair/makeup: $375 (just AM of the wedding for me)

Officiant: $350

I had some other misc expenses in there, too. All in all, I had 1/6 of the guests you’ll have and spent around $10K.

We did get red envelopes, and we did not “make more money back.”

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Post # 5
36 posts

michelleq611:  Honestly it depends on what kind of feel you’re going for… are you not planning to have any decor/lighting?

I wouldn’t count on the red envelopes…A “big” family means lots of kids.. and those kids don’t give money. Most of the older people give $100-150 per adult, younger people give less. It honestly depends on how well off your families are and how “close” they are to you/your FI’s parents

Koi palace’s prices on their website are not accurate.. i believe corkage is closer to $30/table. Also the cheaper menus are really… cheap, expect closer to $600/table. If yours/his parents care about how they “look” to their friends, the cheaper menus don’t offer the fancier dishes that Asians care about.

Don’t waste money on centerpieces, they just get taken off the middle when food is served. Chair covers on average are about $3/chair. Don’t forget to include cost of renting a dance floor. I think you’re underpricing your invites… postage alone will cost you $100+ for 300 people, especially if any of it is overseas. Even with super cheap Chinatown-type invites, you’re still looking at at least $1.50 per invite.

Hair and makeup was about $400 (not full day though… the full day artist had a $1000 minimum), photography ~$1300 for 4 hours. You will probably want to hire a DJ and bilingual MC. I agree with the PP that if you want cheap flowers you can use Costco and make your own flowers

Post # 6
463 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

30k seems really low for a 300 person wedding in San Francisco, even during the day. I had half that amount of guests in LA and my wedding was double that. Planner will be at least 3k. Liquor and flowers also seem low. Those of us that live in major citys tend to get screwed on absolutely everything price wise. I’d expect to pay quite a bit more if I was you. 

Post # 7
1069 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

michelleq611:  What sort of liquor/drinks are you planning on providing? We spent about what you are estimating for only 45 guests, and perhaps 30% of those didn’t drink. If you are planning on having wine or a champagne toast that will also up your cost considerably.

I would call up several restaurants now and get quotes on dinner, drinks and corkage to give you a better idea. If it is a standard 8-course meal with plenty of seafood I think $500 a table in SF is also on the low side.

I don’t see any budget for a celebrant in there – will you be doing the legal ceremony separately? I also agree that a day-of-wedding coordinator is a VERY good thing to have, especially for such a big wedding.

Post # 9
119 posts
Blushing bee

michelleq611:  Hey! Sorry I didn’t get back to you before, didn’t see your response. My hair/makeup artist I found through my wedding planner. Ask around, check out Asian salons, ask if anyone does makeup on the side. Try not to do it through the salon itself. Also ask all your relatives for recommendations. 


Definitely order your flowers through Costco and put one of your female relatives in charge of them. Costco flowers are either loose (like 100 stems of roses) or premade (like 6 centerpieces or 5 bouquets or whatever). If you can get someone to DIY, get the loose roses, otherwise the premade bouquest/centerpieces are still great! 


Don’t forget that Costc in CA also sells liquor. Did you price your Remy there? According to this site, it’s only $33/bottle there http://costcocouple.com/remy-martin-cognac-vsop/. (Out of personal curiosity, why are you doing cognac? I’ve never heard of this before.) That will cut $1000 right there. Feel free to buy a few extra bottles, Costco lets you return it no questions asked. 


Re: red envelopes, my family is very traditional and I got a LOT of money, but that came from one or two generous family members rather than getting a lot of little red envelopes (two of my relatives gave me $10k each). Still didn’t come close to covering the damned wedding though. 🙂


Best of luck!


(PS – I had a thought. If you’re going to China anyway, consider maybe looking for chair decorations/sashes there? I’m guessing it’s much cheaper! You’ll have to hault it back tho, so that could be an issue.)

Post # 10
335 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

We had our wedding in Socal (City of Industry/San Grabriel Valley/Temple City area).

Make-up/Hair: I got it done at a Chinese bridal & photography studio. Cost was $220 for me (which including touch-up the time in between tea ceremony/outdoor pictures and banquet) she did offer to come to the banquet hall for touch-up for free but I declined (I think she usually does charge extra for that) $100 for each bridesmaid, and $80 for each mother. I also tipped her and the assistant $100 each. 

Photography: Offered by the same salon as make-up/hair. I got a packaged deal for $1688: wedding day coverage for up to 9 hours (but it was more like 12 hours). CD of the digital pictures, 200 4×6 prints, an album, and a 20×24 framed picture. We also tipped him $100

Engagement/pre-wedding pictures: We did this in NYC because we live on the east coast. It was at another Chinese bridal salon. Indoor/outdoor shoots, album, 20×24 framed picture, 100 4×6 prints, CDs, slideshow. Cost was $1788 (charged less because we paid cash) but we spent an extra $600 tipping the photographers, make-up artists, dressing assistants for the 2 day shoot. 

Restaurant: Bill came close to $80-90 a person including the food, tip, chair covers, etc

Alcohol: No clue, in-laws bought a variety from Costco. 

MC/DJ: Try the bridal salons, they often have an in house MC or DJ or can recommend somebody. I have no idea how much mine cost, but she wasn’t that great…

Centerpieces: No need to waste too much money on this since it’s removed once dinner starts. My Mother-In-Law bought orchids ($10 each) as centerpieces for each table, the MC later played a game where one person from each table gets the centerpice to take home. 

Tea ceremony: My DH’s aunts cooked a wonderful meal, we were so grateful for that. Otherwise, I bought a food platter from chickfila and donuts/coffee for my brother’s tea ceremony but we don’t have a huge family.

Bouquets/corsages/boutonniere: I made them myself, spent $120 on flowers (from LA flower mart) and $50 on supplies for 5 bouquets, 5 corsages, 7 boutonnieres 

Wedding favors: $2 a person 

With red envelopes, I usually assume it’s about $100 a person (including kids, parents will usually put that into consideration when giving it). Some people give more or less, I didn’t really care. But if they are giving you jewelry, don’t expect a huge red envelope. That is usually nominal unless they are really close to you. The jewelry pieces I got, they ranged from $200-700 each so it made no sense to give a lot on top of that. 

I’m sure I forgot stuff but feel free to ask. Good luck planning! 

Post # 11
1069 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

michelleq611:  Hi! Oh, OK, I wasn’t sure if you were doing tea ceremony + marriage ceremony, or just the tea ceremony. For the legal stuff, bear in mind that usually you will have to go into Town Hall twice, once to get the certificate then a second time after a cooling off period (I think we were told it was 24 hours) to actually perform the ceremony.

We ended up having a small destination wedding in Asia, so we went all out with the alcohol (free flow of wine, spirits, champagne toast, cocktail hour, etc.). However there is nothing at all wrong with just doing liquor. Be sure to count in some soft drinks in the total, however, since they can definitely add to the budget. If each person has just one soft drink you would have to up your drinks budget by ~$1000. I am assuming that tea is included in your banquet cost, so this is unlikely, but unexpected costs can definitely skyrocket with 300 guests. So be sure to add an extra $1000-$2000 on top of your budget as a buffer just in case. If you don’t spend it, awesome, but the costs really fly at you in the last couple of weeks, so be prepared for that.

Other costs worth thinking about are favors (if you want them), undergarments (good strapless bras are expensive), honeymoon/wedding night hotel (if you are having one), place cards, and transport. I found eBay, Etsy and Light In The Box to be quite good for decorations. I think you are over-estimating the cost for makeup and under-estimating the cost for cake. Even in SE Asia from a mid-range place we were being quoted ~$300 for a wedding cake for 50. I feel like it would have probably been double that price for a cake for 300 people, but it does depend on how picky you are and what you want.

It is good that you already have a quote for a meal you like at around $500 per table. Even if you don’t want to book that place, use it to haggle a similar price at a restaurant you do like. Don’t be afraid to bargain and ask the restaurant to throw in free corkage, a free sound system and/or a cheaper price to secure your booking with them. You are planning a big event, so you have the power in this situation. Also be sure to check they won’t charge you a huge fee for cake-cutting. Some restaurants charge $2-$5 per person just for cake-cutting!

Post # 12
1069 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

glasskey:  It was similar for us – we actually asked that people not give us gifts since people were already travelling to get there, but a lot of people still gave us money and most of it came in big gifts ($2,000-$20,000) from close family. As a result, we actually ended up getting back more than we spent on the wedding. Totally amazing and unexpected, but there you go. I’m very grateful to both our families for all their support.

Post # 14
119 posts
Blushing bee

Penang1885:  Agreed! It’s definitely very nice. I think the only reason I harass other brides about not “expecting” money is that for some of my cousins, the amount of money they received colored their perceptions of their relatives, you know? I am VERY grateful for the big cash gifts, but that doesn’t mean I LOVE my just-out-of-college cousins less for giving a potato masher or $25. I don’t get to treat that cousin badly just because s/he gave less. I think having no expectations is the best attitude to have going in, and then to be grateful for everything, no matter how much or how little. 🙂 Congratulations on your recent wedding!


michelleq611:  If your relatives are in the industry, can you ask them to recommend friends who are willing to do it? They should know people not invited to the wedding! But yeah, I wouldn’t ask your relatives 🙂


As for the cognac thing, I’m about to be kind of snob, so I apologize in advance. I was surprised that it was your choice because it is traditionally an after-dinner drink or a nightcap, and not drunk with dinner. I looked it up and apparently among the Chinese nouveau riche, it’s become a status symbol, but I personally would never serve it with dinner. That said, I’m an insecure, pretentious social climber who married into an old WASP family and had the kind of guests who care about crap like that, so I have to pay attention to these things. If people will be impressed by it at your wedding, however, and no one will care that it’s a brandy at the dinner table, then I say go for it. 

If you are interested in providing wine, I do have a suggestion: go to Costco, their house brand (Kirkland) has these HUGE bottles (the size of 2 bottles) for around $13. Their wines are excellent, they buy them from established vineyards.  The big bottles will cut down on corkage fee, because you’ll only need 1 every 2-3 tables. Don’t set them on the tables, set them on the side table, and then have the waitors go around and pour. You’ll be able to return any unopened bottles. 

Also, I agree with a PP about not doing flowers. if you’re doing a family-style banquet. Food will go on the center of the table, and the flowers will just be shoved aside. Consider a non floral centerpiece and that will cut out your $1500 centerpiece budget, too!


Best of luck. 

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