A Chinese woman recently went to the internet to seek advice because her parents wanted 100,000 yuan as bride money, but her future Australian mother-in-law said, "No way!" Is it all about money, or is it a cultural misunderstanding? 

Su Mo and her Australian fiance met in the Chinese city of Xian three years ago, and they were planning a new year's wedding in Australia. Her parents asked for 100,000 yuan (about US$16,000) as bride money. Her future Australian mother-in-law flatly said, "No way!" Su Mo understood that the customs are totally different between the two countries, but she felt stuck between her parents' demand and her future in-laws' refusal.

Unless the bride's family is really poor, the bride money is more about 'face value' to many Chinese parents. A bride money of 100,000 yuan is actually considered pretty commonplace nowadays. Su Mo explained that her parents saw the money as a token of gift that not only would make them look respectable in front of their friends and relatives, but it would also serve as an assurance to protect the bride's future. In other words, her parents would probably give the money back to her and her husband once the wedding has taken place and the couple gets along well in the marriage. 

On the other hand, the fiance's Australian family is accustomed to a different set of values. In the modern western society, it is not a commonly accepted practice to give bride money. Her Australian fiance has never asked his parents for extra money ever since he reached adulthood. He even paid his father to buy the father's used camera. Generally, the family members paid for their own expenses independently. The bride money, regardless of the amount, was considered unreasonable by Su Mo's future in-laws.

Su Mo also said that having the wedding in Australia was expensive. She and her fiance were already going to spend over 200,000 yuan (about US$32,000) that also included airfare, hotel and other expenses for themselves and her parents. They were too stretched to come up with the bride money themselves.

Once her story hit the news, the Chinese news report also included comments from a lawyer who specialized in marital laws. The lawyer said that Chinese law actually forbids “arranged, mercenary marriages, and other acts that interfere with the freedom of marriage,” and that "families are prohibited from obtaining property through marriage.” Nevertheless, millions of Chinese continue to practice the ancient custom of providing bride money and dowry, presumably on a voluntary basis.

Su Mo did not mention what her Australian fiance has said about the predicament. Was he helping to explain the cultural differences to his parents? It would seem that the marriage would get off on a poor start over this matter if the two sets of parents couldn't come to a mutually accepted agreement. At the time of reporting, Su Mo sounded like she was one stressed-out bride and we have not seen a follow-up report of whether the wedding has taken place.

What do you think? What would be a good compromise that both sides could agree on and help the new couple start their marriage on a happy note? Do you see another solution?

~ NancyZdramaland