“Can I invite my mom and dad? And my sis and her family?”
It was a text from a childhood friend. He was responding excitedly to the Save-The-Date cards I had just emailed out for the wedding-that-strikes-fear-in-my-heart-and-in-my-spouse’s-to-be.
My childhood friend (let’s call him ‘Dougie’) has been in and out of my life for the past few decades, but for the most part, is there. When his family came from the Philippines, they lived with us for a few months when I was about 12 years old. But as adults, Dougie has stayed in touch, he comes over and visits me in LA or Seattle or wherever I was, and sometimes would have a joint and we’d get high and call my parents, because we got a kick out of calling my panicky parents. (“What’s wrong with you? Why are you laughing?” -”I’m fine.” -”You sound stupid.” -”Yeah, I know.”)
And for the most part, his parents are there and take care of my parents and that’s a help for me, since I live so far from them and I worry. (“Hi, can I talk to my mom?”-”Oh she’s sleeping. I’m praying for her.” -”Oh, okay. Can I talk to my dad then?”)
So his parents were on the invite list.
But his SISTER? Gosh, I haven’t talked to her since we were… 13? 14? I think my parents have shown me pictures of her high school graduation and later, her college graduation. I knew she got married and has a couple of kids. I never see her at any family parties so it’s not like we’ve ever caught up or even had a grown up conversation since we became grown-ups.
Guilt engulfed me. Dammit! Am I SUPPOSED to invite her?!?!
I’ve already cut the list down, we’re only having the closest family members come… (and for a filipino, let me tell you, that’s not an easy task!)… but his SISTER?!
And I feel bad because I’m not throwing a traditional filipino wedding where guest lists average about 200 to 250 people, and I feel bad because there’s so much expectation of what a wedding is and what people should be there, and I feel bad because my boyfriend’s eyes glaze over when I bring up the ‘W’ word, and honestly I want to elope now too.
What followed between Dougie and I was an intense conversation of: “I don’t have the budget to include everyone and their children”, “Maybe we can all help so that you can open up your guest list,” “Thank you, I’ll consider your offer, but at the moment… I’m not so sure about your sister and her husband and her kids (‘all three of whom I’ve never met’ I thought, but I didn’t say it!). Right now, I’d rather you didn’t tell her.” “Okay, but if anything changes…” “…I’ll let you know.”