- 10 years ago
- Wedding: December 2010
My DH and I eloped for our wedding. One of the reasons we did was to avoid the headache of having a big Chinese wedding where half the guests would be distant Chinese relatives and acquaintances of my parents. Asian bees, you know what I’m talking about!
My parents, insistent on having a party of some kind, planned a smaller dinner banquet for about 40 guests when we got back. All 40 guests were family or friends of my parents. None of my friends or DH’s friends were even considered. Whatever, that’s fine. My parents were paying for it, so they can invite whoever they want.
But then my sister found out that my parents were planning to recoup all the expenses of the banquet by deducting money out of our gifts. My sister was furious and had a fight with my parents about it. My sister thought it was crazy to throw a party in someone’s honor and then claim their gifts as compensation. She felt like they were using my marriage as an excuse to throw an extravagant party and show off to everyone, without having to pay a dime of their own.
I was a little disappointed, but I tried to look at it more from the Chinese perspective… these were all people who would have given gifts anyway, but maybe my parents needed to “save face” by treating them to a nice dinner before accepting their gifts. At this point I tried not to care about it anymore. My greatest fear was that my mom would get carried away with spending on the banquet and the gifts would come up short. Then I’d have to listen to my parents complain endlessly about how so-and-so is such a cheapskate, etc. They can hold a grudge for freaking forever.
In then end, the bill for the dinner came to about $5000. There was $1500 left over from the gifts for DH and me after my parents took their share (that didn’t stop my mom from complaining about a few of the guests who didn’t cover their >$100 plates… don’t get me started on that stupid “rule”). We never even got to see the gifts, my mom took them all home after the dinner and opened all of our wedding cards and lucky red envelopes herself.
DH and I were left feeling kind of icky about the whole thing. Is this normal in Chinese culture? Are my sister and I just too Westernized to understand? DH and I would never say anything to my parents now (not worth opening that can of worms), but I just want to know if we’re crazy for feeling a little weirded out by it.