When Sean and I checked in at the engaged couples retreat last month, the volunteers told us about the optional scavenger hunt in our notebooks. The scavenger hunt — more like people bingo — was a 3×4 grid with descriptions in each square. These included “went to the movies in the past week”, “is having a live band at their wedding,” and “is having a large wedding (more than 200 guests).” If you chose to participate, you could ask another couple to fill in a square. It was a nice ice breaker.
Although we could fill out most of the squares, Sean and I filled out the big wedding option when it was open. While two hundred guests is well over the average guest list — 152 according to the 2011 American Wedding Study — it’s not much more than my family only list. I could have a bigger wedding than average just including my family (with no small children).
Of course, numbers came up. One of us would sheepishly mumble 300, less than the actual total. The other couple would look scared for us and then explain that they were ruthless with cutting the guest list. I felt judged in a way, as if they thought we were going crazy inviting anyone and everyone we had met since kindergarten and friends of our parents we’d never met. It’s not the first time I felt like I needed to explain myself. I’ve heard similar reaction from wedding vendors.
All I need are three simple words: Mexican Catholic family.
More specifically, a close-knit Mexican Catholic family concentrated primarily in Southern California.
My mom and dad are both one of eight kids. Thus I have a bunch of aunts and uncles and even more cousins. I’m one of the younger kids in my generation. Many of my cousins are married and have their own families. The bisnieto (great grandchildren) generation ranges in age from newborn to mid-20s.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Now that we’re adults, I still spend a lot of time with my cousins. Rather than play hide and go seek, we go out to baseball games or have game nights. I’ve never dreaded seeing my family at holidays. I don’t get that trope in holiday films. Christmas and Thanksgiving are just like other gatherings throughout the year except with a Santa Claus visit, turkey, and tamales.
After adding in my friends, friends of the family, Sean’s family, Sean’s friends (not too much overlap among friend groups due to our bicoastal relationship) the total on our guest list was well over 300. Yeah, even we were surprised by the number.
Sure, we could have gone smaller. We could have chosen a location in New York, and greatly decreased my family’s presence. We could include only mutual friends and family members we’ve both met. We could go to a courthouse with our immediate families. We don’t like any of these options.
We’re going big.
Note: Today marks 100 days until our wedding. Check out Sean’s current concern on his blog. It’s not about the guest list, but it does involve our guests.