Dowry (lai kam): How Much is Enough?

Unless you’re swimming in gold, this article could provide you some information when it comes to giving dowry out in a Chinese wedding.

For a Chinese wedding in Malaysia, it is customary for the groom to give money to the in-laws. Usually, the money would be used in the preparation for the bride’s wedding such as the wedding dinners, gowns, accessories, jewelleries and many more. Of course, the more generous you are, the happier they are. Well, money doesn’t grow on trees, do they?

The key challenge here is to give an amount that will not make you appear stingy .It is a sensitive topic which is rarely discussed. There are in-laws out there who would request for a specific figure, say RM15,000. That is a lot of money and would probably require you to starve for a year to save that amount, not forgetting that even more money is required for the wedding preparations.

So, your in-laws have requested RM15,000 for dowry money. What do you do if you don’t have enough? Would you step into the war zone and attempt to negotiate or would you plead your wife to talk some sense to her family?

Let’s assume one of the above suggestions worked, how much should be enough?

There are a number of factors that need to be considered:

1.       How well off is the bride’s family?

Remember this, the dowry is supposed to be used to ease the family financial burden for the preparation for the wedding. If her family is more financially stable than yours, you will need to give enough for it to be meaningful. If her family would be struggling to host this wedding, that’s when you have to think twice if you could provide more to help them prepare for YOUR wedding. Ego is a common obstacle for all, for you and for them. Be prepared to lower your ego.

2.       Where will the wedding be hosted?

The cost of hosting a wedding in KL is way higher than in any part of the country. Assuming the bride is from Johor or Kedah, then the cost would be lower. I have attended weddings in Penang, Alor Setar, Rawang, and of course KL. The guests attending a wedding in KL would pack about RM100-RM250 per person depending on the location of the wedding.

Below is a rough estimate on what you should be receiving based on the venue:


Hotel wedding: Minimum RM150

Chinese restaurant: Minimum RM100

Customised venue RM150-RM200

House wedding: RM100

Out of KL

Hotel wedding: RM80-RM150

Chinese restaurant: Minimum RM100

Customised venue RM100-RM120

House wedding: RM80-RM100


*I have seen families who brought their entire clan – father, mother, 3 kids, maid, grandmother and all they pack was RM150 for all.

3.       How much are you earning?

I believe that your dowry should be at least 15% of your annual salary. Just like how I think that the cost of the wedding ring should be 3 times of your monthly salary.

Annual Salary Estimated dowry
RM36,000 and below RM5,000
RM36,000 – RM48,000 RM6,000
RM48,000 – RM60,000 RM8,000
RM60,000 and above RM10,000

I have read through numerous articles online and spoke to newlyweds to dig further information on this sensitive matter. The general market would say RM8,888 is a good amount of money, because it is not too little (I’ll say RM5,000 is little) or overly generous (RM25,000). 8 is also an auspicious number in the Chinese tradition. Hope this article would provide you with a better idea on how much should you give as dowry.


Chinese bride marries with £100 million dowry

A wealthy Chinese tile magnate gave his daughter a gigantic £100million dowry that included four boxes of gold jewellery, two luxury cars, shares and several homes for her lavish wedding.

The extravagant gift included four boxes of gold jewellery, a bankbook with deposits worth £2m (20m yuan) and an impressive property portfolio.

Pictures of the generous dowry were posted online on Sunday, at the end of the ‘eight-day banquet’, which took place in Cizao town, Jinjiang county, in eastern China’s Fujian province.

Wu Duanbiao, chairman of ceramics firm Fujian Wanli Group, gave his daughter’s new husband real estate including a retail store in Quanzhou, the Olympic villas and the Wanda mansion.

He also bequeathed the newlyweds 500m shares in his ceramics firm worth more than £10m (100m yuan) as well as a Porsche and a Mercedes which draped with red ribbons.

Wu, 54, also gave donations worth £1.5m (15m yuan) to two charities, according to local media reports.

The full extent his wealth is not known and company records show he only drew a salary of £12,000 last year.

His wife described the groom as ‘an outstanding young man’ saying:  ‘He gets his bread from the government.

‘As parents, we certainly want our child’s life to be more stable than our lives as entrepreneurs.

Read more:

Comments are closed.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: