I was talking to a friend about wedding size.
“Here’s now we kept ours small,” she said. “We told our parents they could invite only people I or my fiance had met.”
Reasonable. But that won’t work for us. There are nearly 100 people on the guest list that neither I nor my fiance has ever met.
There are tons of discussions on the Internet about having strangers (ie, people your parents know but you haven’t met or barely know) at your wedding. Most of these discussions center around telling your parents they cannot invite these people. Why, most people wonder, would you want a bunch of people you don’t even know in your wedding pictures? If they’re not related by blood, and you couldn’t pick them out of a crowd, why would you want them around on Your Special Day? Besides, big weddings are often associated with extravagance.
Here’s the thing: My fiance’s parents are immigrants. And that changes everything.
My fiance’s parents left their country of origin when they were in their 20s due to conflict driven by a change in government. The city they’re from essentially doesn’t exist in the way it did when they were growing up. The culture and even the language have completely changed. Even if they were to go back, it wouldn’t be home. As someone with strong roots in my birth city, I can’t even imagine a world where home doesn’t exist anymore.
Anyway, my in-laws moved to a U.S. city with a growing community of other immigrants from their region. And it was that community that helped them get a foothold in America. Helped them find work and start businesses. Helped with childcare. More importantly, this community allowed my in-laws to continue to live the language, customs and traditions of a place that most Americans can’t even find on a map.
My parents have friends, too, of course, but that’s NOTHING compared to a community of transplants that lean on each other to create a home away from a home that no longer exists.
My in-laws’ local cultural community has grown to hundreds, and if you invite one, you’re inviting them all. Literally every single one of the dozens of “strangers” my in-laws plan to invite has helped them — or has been helped BY them in some way. To my fiance, most of these people are dim memories if he remembers them at all — the moment he was old enough to protest putting on a suit and attending parties with his parents was the moment these people became strangers whose names his mother has to hiss under her breath at him so he can pretend to know who they are at weddings and funerals.
To me, they are just names on a spreadsheet.When my fiance’s mom sends me another email listing people she wants to invite, my fiance throws up his hands and goes, “I have no clue who these fucking people are.”
But these fucking people are the reason my fiance’s parents were able to stay afloat in a new place. Now, their kids are thriving, an accomplishment they will want to celebrate together. So it’s not just Our Day, but their day, too. And therefore all these fucking people are invited.
While I’m aggravated that my in-laws have been lax in getting me their final guest list and SERIOUSLY underestimated the number of people they wanted to invite, I’m not bothered that a bunch of strangers are coming to our wedding. We’re having a buffet. We can afford it. And, honestly, a lot of them probably won’t be able to fly cross-country to the wedding. Besides, I get to get married in my hometown, where I grew up — the least I can do is make sure my in-laws get to celebrate with the people they associate with their own home.
Did you have to introduce yourself to people at your own wedding? Did you lay down any rules for who your parents could invite?