Your Personal Guide to Wedding Angpow Rates

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Top Image - Your Personal Guide to Wedding Angpow Rates

Forget about the mind-boggling plethora of websites and online forums dedicated to the latest wedding angpow rates. Here comes PARF – a Personal Angpow Rate Formula – to help you calculate just how big an angpow you should give at weddings.

Words by Zara Zhuang

Wedding season is upon us, and we should all be afraid. Very afraid.

Contemporary weddings have attained the scale of a tactical operation, with ever-expanding budgets ­­­being their hallmark. According to the latest Julius Baer Lifestyle Index, the cost of a wedding banquet increased over the 2013–2014 period in seven out of 11 major Asian cities studied. In Singapore, the increase in cost over the same period was 14%, second only to Jakarta’s 26%.

Year-on-year increases in the cost of holding a wedding are commonly attributed to rising labour and food costs, as well as the tax on liquor, whose excise duty rate was raised 25% in the 2014 Budget to keep pace with inflation.

With a typical wedding in Singapore costing anywhere from $50,000 to $130,000, wedding guests are increasingly factored in on that crucial component: the angpow.

A red packet for the red bomb

The customary angpow, which you’re expected to give in response to the wedding invitation (a.k.a. “red bomb”), is the more practical and versatile version of a wedding gift registry. By giving cash to the wedding couple, they could put it towards anything they want.

But what was intended as a gift from the heart has now become expected to go towards covering the cost of the wedding, with turning a profit being the ideal situation and not having to pay anything out of pocket the next best scenario. (And God forbid you displease Bridezilla with your measly offering.)

With expressions such as “breaking even” and “making a loss” being tossed about, you’d be forgiven for thinking a discussion of wedding expenses was a quarterly financial earnings report. There are even webpages dedicated to guiding you in preparing an angpow that helps the wedding couple break even.

Venue Weekday Weekend
Lunch Dinner Lunch Dinner
Amara Singapore 104 116 116 127
Capella Singapore 186 197 186 233
Concorde Hotel Singapore 97 121 139 157
Goodwood Park Hotel 139 139 139 172
Grand Hyatt Singapore 151 162 151 186
Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium 105 119 105 119
Hotel Fort Canning 110 118 110 155
LingZhi Vegetarian (Liat Towers) 55 55 55 55
Mandarin Oriental Singapore 132 140 132 175
Marina Bay Sands 116 151 116 151
ONE°15 Marina Club 133 137 133 157
Peach Garden @ Hotel Miramar 86 93 86 105
Raffles Hotel 145 145 145 174
Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore 116 139 116 151
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa 113 125 137 151
Shin Yeh 66 66 128 137
Swissôtel Merchant Court Singapore 102 140 102 140
The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore 163 191 174 191
The St. Regis Singapore 161 186 161 186
Tung Lok Signatures (Orchard Parade) 92 92 102 102
W Singapore – Sentosa Cove 162 162 162 174

[Some popular wedding banquet venues and the minimum sum expected per pax to break even. For the full list of the latest angpow rates, refer to]

Get ready to PARF

As always, there’s a perennial debate on whether you should give the standard market rate to help the hosts cover the cost of their wedding, or give however much you want because you refuse to succumb to peer pressure or social expectation. Regardless of which camp you’re on though, those annually revised wedding price lists can seem a little simplistic, as they do not factor in the economics of your relationship to the wedding couple.

With that, I present to you the Personal Angpow Rate Formula, or PARF (it rhymes with barf, but it’s more pleasant — or at least it should be).

Article Image - Personal Angpow Rate Formula

Give each factor a score between 0.5 and 1.5. This means the largest angpow you could possibly give is 1.5 times the market rate, the smallest is half the market rate, and if you’re middle of the road on every factor you’ll give exactly the market rate.

Scenario #1: The colleague you barely know

Alvin is that new guy in Marketing. He’s been around for barely four months, and you’ve only met a few times while in line for coffee. And for some reason that remains unfathomable to you, he’s invited you to his wedding at Alkaff Mansion. Jialat. What now? How large an angpow will you be willing to part with if you attend Al’s wedding?

Article Image - Applying the Personal Angpow Rate Formula on the colleague you barely know

Of course, the paiseh intensity could be bumped up to 1.5 if you find out your whole department has been invited and everyone is going but you, so you’ve no choice but to join them.

Scenario #2: Your BFF

You’ve known Jan for more than a decade. Now the girl is getting married, and she’s having her dream wedding at the St. Regis on a Saturday night. Let’s do some math.

Article Image - Applying the Personal Angpow Rate Formula on your BFF

You generous friend, you! Now you can sponsor Jan to eat as much gelato as she likes during her honeymoon to Italy.

Scenario #3: The annoying cousin you meet only during Chinese New Year

You don’t want to attend Bob’s wedding at Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant — you hate this guy, and you’d much rather stay in for a Netflix binge — but your parents have forced you to go because he’s family. And they’ve even reminded you to pack a fat angpow so you won’t humiliate them in front of the clan. The paiseh intensity is strong with this one.

Article Image - Applying the Personal Angpow Rate Formula on the annoying cousin you meet only during CNY

Your parents’ request that you give a large angpow cancels out your desire to boycott Bob’s wedding. You end up giving the market rate, so that’s fair.

Article Image - It's the thought that counts, not the size of your angpow

Of course, PARF’s range of 0.5 to 1.5 times the market rate is totally arbitrary, so feel free to do your own math or add in other factors you think are important. Round up, round down, give more, give less — whatever the amount, just be sure you can afford it comfortably.

After all, at the end of the day, it’s your heartfelt wish for a happily-ever-after that should matter the most to the wedding couple – not your angpow.

  • You made me realise that I am already subconsciously applying those three factors when deciding how much angpow to give. Thanks for putting them into words and even deriving a PARF formula – I will try to apply it when I receive my next bomb! Thanks for this candid article 🙂

    • Hi BT,

      Now you know what to do the next time you receive a “red bomb”. 😉

      PARF was born because many of our peers are getting married this year, and we wanted an angpow formula that could account for both the relationship and the “save face” factors. Are there any other factors you consider too?

    • Hi Khengchat,

      Actually, it’s the same in Singapore. Can’t believe we mixed up the “red bomb” reference. Thank you so much for pointing it out! 🙂

  • There is no such things as market rate, you are encouraging hotel to charge higher than the restaurant. Take your list to show that a well-known hotel but with a lousy restaurant charge the highest, whereas a good restaurant in a less well-known hotel charge the lowest. It doesn't make sense!

  • i think this is quite a cute way to calculate out the hw much we shuld pack for angbao … for mi is financial so i guess kinda difficult to know hw much to pack ifs ur own good frens wedding yet with financial's difficulties… well like what u mention dont wanna make a mess with bridezilla/groomszilla~ hahahasss

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