The Wedding Gift

As you might be aware, Indonesians love to throw a big wedding. The bigger the better. Inviting thousand people to a three-hour party is something that considered normal for many people. The Indonesian way of calculating invitation is not one invitation valid for two people, but one invitation valid to a bunch of people, they are father, mother, son, daughter and the nanny (ies).  Any bride and groom should ensure that they will not running out of the food, thus, they have to empty their bank account. If they do not have enough money, they should not worry because parents in Indonesia are are always ready to borne the damage. Consequently, most of the invitees are the colleagues and friends of both parents and that the presents should go to parents who have invested their money.

Closer friends usually give a personal present like jewel (my favorite), tea set, spa voucher, hotel voucher of even lingerie.  While the not-so-close friends or even stranger (to the bride and groom) normally give cash. The amount is varied from five to thousand dollar, depend on the financial situation of the guests. Surprisingly, there are always guests who come empty-handed or those who unashamedly giving an envelope without neither money nor name.

Anyway, the money which is supposed to help the bride and group starting their new life (or paying debt if they take loan to hold the wedding party) is often become source of dispute among the parents. Parents who spent invested more are often feel they are entitled for more return. There also parents who spent nothing, but forcing the bride and groom to share the gift with them because they feel that the gift are from their friends. There’s even parents who took away the money box right after the wedding party because they are afraid that parents from the other side might take it away.


Forgive me, but I didn’t know remember where did I get this photo

The Chinese Indonesians do differently. They invented a numbering mechanism in the envelope. Guests do not drop the envelope to the box directly, but hand it to the usher. The usher will be the one responsible to put the envelope in the box. Before dropping the envelope, the usher will put a number (using sticker or pen) based on the wedding guest book. For Chinese Indonesian, knowing the exact amount of the present is very important. In the future, when the guests hold a wedding or funeral, they will “return” back the money. So if you give empty envelope you will get empty envelope. Smart!

Bule usually gives money. They usually estimate the cost of the meal and give a little bit more to help the bride and groom cover the expenses. When the guest come as couple, the amount of the gift always doubled. In their custom, making RSVP to a wedding and not showing up is unacceptable. If one does that, then one has to send the gift as ‘compensation’. That’s why when bules don’t have money they would prefer not come to the wedding (and present an empty envelope). In the USA, guests sometimes put the receipt of the present so if they bride and groom do not like the present, they can always return it to the shop. It is also common to register gifts from certain shop so guests could easily pick present that match with budget. Please note that not all bules give presents, there are always bules who do not give gift or give crazy present. Here is one of the example of bridezila vs crazy guest. Both, in my opinion, are crazy.

Some people see wedding party as a way of celebrating their love with the world and do not care about the present. Some only want to spend it with closer friends and do not care about the present. The presence of close friends and family members in the wedding is already a present for the bride and the groom that will treasured for the rest of their life.

What’s your favorite wedding gift?