Things are changing in the way Asian weddings are organised and, thankfully, it’s all for the better. Both halves of the couple – not just the bride – want more of a say in what happens on the big day. While budgets are still bulging, the weddings themselves are getting smaller (in terms if guest lists, that is) and we’re simply spending more per head for a classier affair.
After setting a wedding date to suit everyone and their neighbour, working on the guest list is the second most difficult thing you’ll have to do. If you’re on the lookout for some advice on how to overcome your guest list dilemmas, you’ve come to right place.
So what are the rules and etiquette, if any, when it comes to drawing up a guest list for an Asian wedding? First of all, you have to acknowledge that your parents’ philosophy of ‘we have to invite everyone who invited us to their weddings’ is a nice idea but wildly impractical. This is how you end up spending a fortune entertaining hundreds of people you barely know – after all, growing up we spent most of our summers travelling up and down the country attending endless weddings.
The ‘relationship rule’
At the end of the day, besides you and your fiancé, your wedding means more to your parents than it does to anyone else. Involving them is simply a must. Particularly if they are the ones footing the bill, or part of it, it’s only fair that they get to have a say. Just be sure that you establish the universal ‘relationship rule’ at an early stage. This means anyone that you do not consider yourself as having a meaningful relationship with stays off the guest list.
When it comes to splitting the guest allowance between your side and your fiancé’s side, we believe that there should be a 50/50 split regardless of who’s paying. Traditionally, it was customary for the bride’s side to host the wedding in her neck of the woods and the baraat (groom’s side)numberswould be limited. The solution to this has always been that the groom’s family would hold their own functions where they can invite whoever they want. But, ideally, it’s best to observe a 50/50 guest allowance regardless of who’s hosting what.
When it comes to your work colleagues, there’s really no obligation to invite them (though you’d probably rather have them at your wedding, than some of the relatives that will end up on the final list). We mostly tend to have quite superficial relationships with our colleagues, so there's less pressure; however there is a degree of awkwardness in inviting one or two of your favourites and leaving the others out.
In the work environment it’s fair to say that you just do what you have to keep people on side. We say there's nothing wrong with making your excuses about how it’s a small wedding with limited numbers.
Plus ones have always been bit of a grey area since Asian wedding invites don’t really offer invitees the option to bring a guest. You actually have to write on the card to indicate whether or not you are inviting the wives and girlfriends or partners of your friends. It’s really a matter of discretion. In some families inviting unmarried couples is a no no, while you may have a mate with a long term girlfriend who could take offence if you’ve only invited him on his own. It’s generally in poor taste to leave out partners so our advice would be to allow for plus ones where possible.
Last but not least, we feel a responsibility to be quite frank with you here; the wedding guest list is a phenomenon that involves a fair bit of compromise. Yes, you just might manage to invite everyone you want there within a limited allowance, but you certainly won’t be able to prevent the attendance of one or two relatives that you really don’t like. Trust us – it really won’t matter to you on the day.