‘You can be absent, but not the gifts’: woman in China slams ex-colleague for wedding no-show, failure to return US$55 she gave at his nuptials

The story of a woman in China who tried to convince an ex-colleague to attend her wedding so that he could return a cash wedding gift of 400 yuan (US$55) she gave him when he tied the knot has captivated mainland social media.

The woman, surnamed Huang, from Sichuan province in southwestern China, complained about the former colleague who declined an invitation to her nuptials.

She was convinced he did so to avoid returning the favour she did when he tied the knot, Star Video reported.

“I gave him a gift when he got married, which means I am obligated to invite him to my wedding,” Huang said.

It is an established tradition at weddings in China that guests give a cash “blessing” to the happy couple. Photo: Shutterstock

Before she held her wedding ceremony on October 22, Huang sent the ex-colleague a wedding invitation followed by a digital invitation via WeChat.

“But he did not show up on my wedding day,” Huang said.

Soon after asking him why he failed to attend, Huang demanded that he return the 400 yuan, but he failed to reply.

Eventually, the former workmate said he did not turn up because he thought the invitation was not authentic.

Huang could not accept his explanation: “You should return the cash gift,” she said, adding: “It is all about reciprocity. You can be absent, but not the gifts.”

Regardless, he did not return the cash.

At the time of writing, the Star Video story had attracted 210,000 views and 4,951 comments online.

The bride-to-be bombarded her ex-colleague with online messages asking him to attend. Photo: Shutterstock

Most online observers believed Huang was being disrespectful.

“Chasing that cash gift back really turned her dignity into dust,” one person said.

“To give a cash wedding gift is a blessing, does giving a blessing require a return?” asked another.

It is traditional to gift newlyweds in China cash at weddings.

At the beginning of this year, a couple in southeastern China tore up the red envelopes with banknotes inside to show they have received the cash gifts from the guests.

Late last year, a woman in eastern China discovered spring onions – a traditional blessing for newlyweds – hidden inside a duvet given to her as a wedding gift in 2010.

Also, China’s younger generation have begun to come up with their own marriage gifts.

In October 2022, in a nod to tough economic times, a couple in eastern China designed a “no money gift pass” for their wedding guests to spare them giving cash.

In a similar vein, in August last year, four men converted a 42kg bag of coins they had saved up into 6,888 yuan (US$940) to give to their best friend, the groom, as a gift on his big day in eastern China.

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