At the MIL’s in New Jersey: Bridal Shower No. 2

A few weeks before the wedding my mother-in-law’s two best friends gave us a co-ed bridal shower. With all the planning going back and forth, it just so happened that it was going to be the day after my groom’s overnight bachelor party in Atlantic City. I knew that this wasn’t going to be the best idea but I thwarted the nag in me and said “try not to make it turn out like the movie The Hangover!”

At about 4:30 p.m. Mr. Pashmina called me from the road to tell me that he may have to meet me there–they were running late–but he was going to try to come home to clean himself up from the party…none of them were able to take a shower before check-out! Yes, theses stinky boys were all going to attend too. The bridal shower was set to start at 5 p.m. We were asked to arrive fashionably late around 5:30 or 6.  His estimated arrival time was 6:30 or so…

I got dressed and made my way over to the party was at precisely 6 p.m. I was a little bit nervous and didn’t want to walk in alone. Since the majority of people coming were his mom and dad’s friends, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived. What if a bunch of people greeted me and I didn’t know any of them. But to my surprise when I got there Mr. P was there waiting for me, he just arrived. A bit tore up and hungover looking, but there all the same!

It was a hot New Jersey night and most of our friends flocked outside to seek refuge on the deck in the backyard. After saying “hi” to all the stinky boys and their wives, Mr. P and I then made the circuit kissing and hugging all of his parents friends. Everyone was so warm and friendly, even when we didn’t know them. The older women would give us marriage advice and the men would chuckle and tell us jokes.

One of the main highlights was all the food. They special ordered a lechón. This is a whole roasted pig which only makes its appearance on special occasions. Its origins are Spanish, but it is one of the most prized Filipino dishes. The pig or piglet is skewered whole and cooked in a firepit, rotating it as if it was in a big rotisserie. The result looks similar to a pig served during a luau. But the thing that people love about lechón is the crispy skin. If you are lucky to get the skin, that is, it is what people reach for first! It tastes sort of like super thick, deep fried bacon. (Please do not look at the very bottom picture if you do not wish to see it ready to be served up). I wasn’t in love with the dish before the bridal shower because I grew up with pork chops and apple sauce but with this lechón my opinion is starting to sway. I guess I have always been missing the sweet sauce that goes with it which is sort of like a chutney. Anyways, back to the party, I always get distracted with food…

The main event was watching me open gifts with the help of all the small kids and my handy groom wielding a kitchen knife. Let me tell you all, Crate & Barrel really knows how to tape up a box–and almost all the gifts were from there! All this knifing, tearing, and shredding was happening while Wowoweé was going on in the background.

For those of you unfamiliar with this Filipino variety show, it is like the craziest (and funnest) show on television. It is hours of silly games, contestant interviews, beautiful Filipinos, and dancing, music, and random acts of entertainment. It is off the Richter’s scale with energy. You always hear “WaWa Wee!” exclaimed and then people laughing or screaming. It was everything that opening the presents felt like!! I was butchering people’s last names. Paper was flying everywhere! Knives kept slashing boxes. Kids were running around. Boys were hungover. And in the midst my wedding bonnet that kept getting bigger and more Little Bo Peep-like. It was a crazy good time!

The two hostesses put together the best party. I absolutely loved it. Everyone was able to join in the fun regardless of gender or age! They even gave out traditional Jordan almonds as favors. So sweet!

What was your bridal shower like? Was it co-ed or all girls? Did it have a chaotic, fun energy like mine?

How to Decide on Invitation Wording While Honoring Two Cultures?

After pinpointing down what type of style we wanted, we needed to think about what the invitation would actually say. I knew this might be a big deal from the very, very beginning. Frankly, the issue was how do we incorporate both American and Filipino traditions into an invitation that is “us.”

Filipino Wedding Invitation with Entourage Listed, image from Weddingbee

Since the beginning of the engagement, Mr. Pashmina’s mom has had one main question: Who are going to be our sponsors. Sponsors are individuals involved in your lives that will stand up and attest that you two should get married, meaning that you have the support of your friends, family, and the community. Basically saying, as elders, “we support this union.” Typically for a Filipino wedding this information goes on the wedding invitation, in the program, and is incorporated into the ceremony by the sponsor’s participation in the wedding. The list of sponsor can be pretty long. From what I understand, there are typically at least two Principle Sponsors and three Secondary Sponsors.

Mr. Pashmina’s mom was primarily concerned with the sponsors but really the entire entourage is listed on the invitation. I think she was so interested in the sponsors because it is such an elevated position, and it could be pretty much anyone friends or family. I loved that fact that you are acknowledging the entire community of people that support and will participate in the ceremony in such a public way. What a cool thing that can bind people together!

Roughly, this is how honored people get listed on a Filipino invitation:

Wedding Entourage

Principal Sponsors

‘to stand as principal witnesses to our exchange of vows’


‘to assist us in out needs’

Bestmen ___

Maid of Honor ____

Groomsmen ____

(and the rest of wedding party)

(on the next page)

Secondary Sponsors

‘to light the way’ (will help with candle in ceremony)


‘to clothe us as one’ (will help with veil in ceremony)


‘to bind us together’ (will help with cord in ceremony)

Memory Sponsors


(deceased loved ones or those who cannot attend)

But from the get-go I was hesitant about going with a Filipino wedding invitation because it was so long, and I didn’t think my family would understand who sponsors were unless I explained. But I felt very, very guilty about not being excited about incorporating this tradition into our wedding. How fun would it be for all the people to open the invitation and see their name there in print. Who doesn’t like that! And I could easily explain all the sponsors to my family and friends. Maybe not to everyone, but they would still get the jest of it with who is getting married, time, location, etc.

But really, to put it more honestly, both Mr. Pashmina and I really like the modern, non-religious, American wedding invitation wording. This was our main constraint, and what we felt were holding our hands back.

These are our favorite wedding invitation phrases:

“Mr. & Mrs. X
Mr. & Mrs. Z
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children”

“With a joyous heart we request
the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of

“The X Family
The Z Family
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their children”
“The X Family & Z Family
joyfully invite you to the marriage of”

“Together with their families
request the pleasure of your company
at their marriage”

We both like how short and simple these were. We could then list the time, date, and location and leave it at that. We also like how it incorporated joy, excitement and warmth in the call for marriage, something that we felt sometimes lacked in more formal, traditional invitations.

But is it too nuclear/American just to mention his family/my family on the invite? This is what we grappled with. Should we have one of these American phrases as the first page of the wedding invitation and then have the second page with the wedding entourage on it? Or could this info go onto the wedding program where I could explain the candle, veil, and cord customs; the tradition of sponsors in Filipino weddings; etc. It might be really nice there, I thought.

So that is what we decided.

We were going to have a modern, American wedding invitation because it felt right for us. It was going to be a deviation from Mr. P’s parent’s tradition. We crossed our fingers and hoped that we wouldn’t be insulting anyone. I explained to Mr. Pashmina’s parents that we still were going to have sponsors and they would be listed in the wedding program along with the other people in the bridal entourage.

In the end this is how our cultural balance ended out. We could have done a dual wedding invitation with one side in Tagalog with traditional elements and the other side of the invite in English in the modern, American style. Or the first part announcing the marriage in the American style and the second page with the entourage in this Filipino style. Perhaps this is to our strong sense of individuality ingrained in us, dear America, but we went with what we felt was “us.”

How did you navigate cultural traditions in your wedding? Did you opt for American tradition over your parents’ cultural tradition? Did you have culture-neglect guilt?

Barong Tagalog

Image from Filipinas.

When Filipino men get dressed up, they put on the traditional barong.

No…I didn’t say sarong! A barong is a shirt that falls just past the waist, worn untucked, with long sleeves, embroidery, and buttons along the front. It looks like a Western dress shirt at first but then you see it–it is transparent! (Guys do wear an undershirt…don’t worry!!)

It has been worn for the last four hundred years, ever since colonization by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The origins of it are a little bit fuzzy but they say the Spaniards made them wear it to differentiate the natives from the rulers. It was transparent so no weapons could be concealed, contained no pockets to deter thievery, and was untucked to show their savageness. So why in contemporary times do Filipinos wear this style shirt if it was meant to insult? It has been reclaimed by the people! Just as vernacular words do, so does the barong!! It is now the official dress of the Philippines. AND the style of dress for grooms.

When my groom and I went to the Philippines last year he got his very own. This wasn’t the easiest thing for him to do. We went to a marketplace that had a number of stands set up selling barongs. But my man is a bit bigger than the average Filipino. He is pushing 6’1” and at the time pushing 250 lbs. Most of the barongs were small sizes and when they did have his size they wanted to charge almost double saying that it was extra fabric! Yes it technically is more fabric–but really, double? But it is really nice. The embroidery on each is different and he and his friends had a great time picking his out.

So he has his! He could wear his for the wedding, the rehearsal dinner, or our brunch. A direct import from his native land.

Here is a breakdown of the word ‘Barong Tagalog’:

Baro = Dress

Barong = Dress of

Barong Tagalog = Dress of the Tagalog

A Filipino-American Wedding

My fiance’s parents came to this country a little over thirty years ago from the Philippines. Their entry to America was by way of Hawaii then San Francisco then New York, where my soon-to-be husband was born. As a second generation Filipino-American he is bound by two cultures. Rejoicing in being an American and being Filipino. Of course he has been taught traditional Filipino culture from his parents, his family, and his community. As a third generation European-American I too come from a specific way of life that seems to me as completely normal. However, he is much more aware of the dichotomy and cultural norms he must adhere to in his different environments. I often assume my norms are “American” and not what my parents — an English-German third gen and a Bulgarian-English third gen–taught me.

Last February we went to the Philippines, lovingly called “PI” by second gens, and it shattered some of what he thought he knew, explained a lot of what he didn’t, and informed both of us about the nuances of his parents’ ways. We went for a wedding but this didn’t fully prepare me for the questions his mom would ask me about the wedding.

My mother-in-law-to-be’s main question since we got engaged was who our sponsors were going to be. “Sponsors?”, I thought. Are these people who will be paying for the wedding? That seems a bit “different”, I thought. No, no “sponsors” are individuals involved in your lives that will stand up and attest that you two should get married, and that you have the support of your friends, family, and the community. Basically saying, as elders, “we support this union.” From a little research this seems to be mostly a Hispanic Catholic tradition. The Philippines were ruled by Spain through Mexico City and in many ways their customs share similarities. Not being Catholic I wasn’t familiar with this term. So right now I am trying to brainstorm who in my family would be sponsors. His mom came up with examples for him. But who should be my sponsors? I’m trying to think of people with the same sort of “status” or relationship.

Typically for a Filipino this information goes on the wedding invitation. But do I want to have this on the invites? I think my friends and family will be confused by the term. I’ve got to figure this out before our wedding invitations can be printed! So by the begin of this project–by February–it has got to be planned.