OMG…I totally predicted this would happen. And how ironic to see in my initial post, I predicted this scenario EXACTLY, down to the number someone would write on their RSVP.
So my mom has eight first cousins she has only met once in her life — in 1967 when she and her siblings and parents visited the Philippines. Well, with two exceptions, most of these first cousins live in the United States and are spread out across the country and they have been separated from one another (typical Filipino diaspora — Saudi, midwest, Merchant Marines, etc etc). Not one of them have EVER visited us in California (though my grandparents worked their whole lives in the fields to help send all of their nieces and nephews to private school and college in the Philippines). These cousins have all found us via facebook, myspace, etc. With the exception of one couple I met back in 1976, I have never met any of them who now live in the United States. None have ever taken the opportunity to visit us or my grandma, their only Auntie.
My grandma is elderly — 88 and not doing well health-wise. One of these cousins finally came and visited us and saw how poorly her aunt was doing (she hasn’t seen her since 1986). She must have told her siblings that it was “now or never” to see their Auntie. So now I was told I had to invite all of these cousins, since “they wouldn’t all come, anyway!” Well, now they seem to have all put their heads together and decided THEY WOULD ALL COME and make it a huge family reunion!!! And I mean HUGE! My mom’s older brother told me today that he heard from one of these said cousins. This cousin, whom I will call Emilio, told my uncle that he and his ENTIRE family were coming. FOURTEEN PEOPLE. YES, you heard me. FOURTEEN PEOPLE. They have all bought their plane tickets and are so excited to come and meet us for the first time. They are coming from the southeast coast. Mind you, I wrote “FOUR seats have been reserved in your honour” on their reply card (because my aunt never bothered to get back to me on how many there were in her cousin’s family and I just guessed).
I am going to cry. The guest list is already bursting at the seams at 400, 99.9% family. My dad’s side is equally as huge as my mom’s side. The venue can only hold 400. I can’t afford more than 375 anyway and will have to put everything on credit card. So far, I have 26 RSVP cards returned (deadline is in mid-Sept) and I have NO DECLINES. If this pattern continues, I am fully expecting every single person and more to come. My Filipino caterer says she is seeing a 95% response rate, which is typical for a recession since a wedding is seen as a free meal and entertainment (non-recession response rates are closer to 80). And we are also fully expecting more relatives to pull these kinds of shenanigans.
Mind you, we/I am paying for 99.9% of this wedding. My family is dealing with retirements, foreclosures, layoffs, and furloughs, so they can’t help us much ($2,000 tops is what they are kicking in). Now my aunties and uncle and mom are all excited about this reunion with their long lost cousins and telling me that I just need to find a place to seat these people. They said they will help me a little bit financially. They’re just so excited to have this family reunion. I keep saying that they should plan a separate family reunion (the sum total of just that one side of the family is 200+) and we shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the financial burden of one. We will be in serious debt for years after this wedding.
To make matters worse, I had 20 close friends on a B-list that I was hoping to invite if I got any declines.
Look, I totally understand our culture. I teach it. I research it. I know the village culture of everyone being invited down to the fifth cousin once removed. And I respect it and embrace it — that’s why my guest list is already at 400, with 99.9% family and extended family. I know it’s not just my day. I know it’s my family’s day. I just feel like I have to draw the line somewhere. I am so frustrated and sad that I can’t have some of my close friends there because some family members that I have never met, and will most likely never see again, want to use this opportunity to have their long overdue family reunion.
So the compromise I presented to my family is this…that four of this family that I had accounted for in the headcount can come to the seated dinner part…and the 10 extras (I honestly have no idea who these people are — cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, grandchildren, friends?) can come to the reception after dinner for the dancing, cake, entertainment. No response yet from the family (I emailed it along with our floor plan to show how I would have to sit outside and eat my dinner on the grass if I had to let 10 extra people in).
thank you for reading this long vent…HELP!