There’s another post I wanted to finish typing since it’s been sitting as a draft for more than a week now, but this is more urgent.
I need opinions again. This time round, it’s about my guestlist. Or rather, guest numbers. More specifically, who to invite. The caterer I mentioned recently is coming
tomorrow tonight (31 March) to speak personally with my parents and face-to-face with me, finally, so I need to settle this dilemma I have about who to invite because that would determine guest numbers, which would affect the price of the catering service.
Now, initially I set the number of guests to invite at 500; 400 would be determined by my parents, and 100 by me.
400 is a challenging figure for my mom to play around with, but she gamely took up the challenge and started working on a list early on (like a year ago). She showed me her more or less finalised guest list last week and she actually managed to keep to the figure! Her guestlist was limited to the following categories of people:
Aunts and uncles (including those who are my parents’ cousins);
Their kids and their kids’ spouses, if any;
Their grandkids (applicable only for my direct aunts and uncles)
Direct elders (maternal grandmother and grandaunts – their spouses have passed on)
Siblings of one of my grandaunts-in-law (she is like my mom’s BFF – couples only, no kids)
Not-so-direct elders (‘adoptive’ siblings, or cousins, of my grandmother, with any surviving spouses)
Their kids and their kids’ spouses only (no grandkids)*
My late nanny’s kids; the ones who were practically co-caregivers to me in my early childhood
My siblings’ in-laws (nuclear family only)
Malay neighbours (couples only, no kids)
Some of my parents’ closer friends (couples only, no kids)
Relatives of my late maternal grandfather, who did not turn up for my cousin’s wedding last year, despite being invited (no it’s not us being spiteful; we just think that it’s likely they won’t come to mine either so we can safely not invite them)
Far-flung Acehnese relatives on my dad’s side, whether based in KL or Medan or Jakarta or Aceh itself
Old neighbours of my parents since kampung days
Old friends and ex-colleagues of my parents from years back
*For those whose invites are strictly for couples only, my mother said that when the cards are passed to them, be it directly or via a representative (e.g. the elders or the oldest sibling in that family), she would tebalkan muka (literally, ‘thicken her face’, i.e. swallow her pride) and state explicitly that only the couple is invited, while their children are not, because it’s a small affair. For that, I’m grateful as I know it’s not that easy for her to set aside her pride for my sake.
*My mother also mentioned that for some 4th/5th-tier relatives who have children of school-going age, she has observed that they always bring their kids along – perhaps because the invitation states ‘so and so with family’; or they value family ties so they would like their kids to get to know the extended family; or they don’t dare leave their kids at home! Ok this last one sounds a bit ridiculous, but I think it’s still likely. When I was young, my parents, who are serial wedding invitees, would go attend weddings but they left me with my siblings at home. We had been taught to be independent since young. (I took public transport to school when I was 7, washed my own school shoes soon after and did my own laundry beginning 9 or 10 years old.) However, I noticed that with this younger generation, parents are more protective and kids are… molly-coddled far longer.
So it did occur to me that the ‘couples only no kids’ restriction might be inconvenient to such relatives. Hence, I asked my mother to just note down the number of kids and it came to about 28 or so, a number I could consider including if there were remaining slots in the guest numbers.
Now, as for my own guestlist, I figured 100 would be more than enough for me because I don’t
have a large following of fangirls have a large group of girlfriends who have stuck with me through the years (heck, I don’t even have any bridesmaid!) So I started writing down names according to these categories:
My two closest girlfriends, and their husbands (and one baby who would be a few months old by then!)
My two closest colleagues; one is single but I thought I’d just invite her mother so she has someone to go with her; one is married with four young kids and I’ve met her husband and the kids so they all get invited too.
University mates whom I worked closely with, and since I always get a ‘Zakiah and partner’ invite when it came to their weddings, their husbands would be invited too. This is especially since some of them have toddlers / pre-school age children, so they would bring their kids along and of course their husbands must tag along to help out. (As it so happens there are not many guys in my course and I’m not on friend-speaking terms with any of them except one so they don’t get invited)
My superiors, 5 of them (no spouses, no kids)
The colleagues whom I work with closely. Now this is the tricky part. In my profession, there are those whom I work with on an administrative level, and those whom I work with on a professional level. For the former, there are some who have become like friends to me as we go beyond work in our conversations. Of course they get invited, with their spouses and kid(s). There are some whom I’m not on a friends-level with, but I’m friendly to (sounds complicated I know); we joke around a bit and they help me out a lot on a regular basis for the administrative aspect of my work. There is no way they would not know that I’m getting married, because they also work closely with my superiors. Ok so, they get invited too. However among them there are some characters I’m friendly to because I have to be, in order to get my work done. There are some I’m genuinely pleased to talk to. So I can’t possibly invite some and not the others, right? So fine, all or most of them get invited. The same goes with the latter group; those whom I work with on a professional level. However there are some whom I had worked with in the past years, but not this year. Out of those, again there are some who cross over to the friends-level, and some whom I’m friendly to only because I have to work with them (which means once I don’t have to work with them this year, there’s really no need to talk to them unless necessary, which is rare). And this group numbers over 50. So how to filter them?
And the great thing is, I overlooked the fiancé’s entourage who would be coming to witness the solemnisation! They would also be eating at my reception so they have to be factored into the guest numbers! My mom said 50 is a reasonable number, which means I only have 50 left. But as of my latest count, I’ve got 70 over guests already!
And I’ve yet to count those people whom I meet only a few times, sometimes once a year (or even less frequently): old schoolmates whose reunion gatherings I attended beginning last year, and those from a voluntary association I once volunteered at a few years back, who always includes me in their reunions. In fact, for this latter group, there would be a reunion next week because one of them is getting married and would like to pass us invites! I feel like they would expect an invitation from me when I get married, and honestly I feel like I owe it to them for remembering and including me because errrr.. I can be quite forgettable?
My mister says maybe I could cut down the numbers by giving solo invites, for example, to my university mates since I really only know them and not their husbands, and they can come with each other like a reunion of some sort. But some of them are young mothers and I’d feel bad if I were to tell them they’d have to leave their young ones at home! Although some husbands might actually be happy if they don’t have to tag along to a wedding…
At this rate I might have to increase my guest numbers to 600. I did a quick calculation; even if my caterer reduces the cost per head by a dollar, I would still have to pay close to $1000 more!
So, what do I do now? Do I stick to my ‘don’t care what others say’ attitude and strictly invite those who are genuinely close and matter to me (and subsequently avoid reunions for the next few years), or do I take a ‘I feel obliged to invite’ attitude, for the sake of being on good terms with people?
Help me out here!