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?

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

Aunties and Uncles and More…!

We are having an untraditional Filipino wedding. Untraditional in the sense that we are not having a huge 500 person wedding!! We are not inviting all the aunties and uncles (that are somehow related but I’m not quite sure how). I read some where that the tradition of a huge wedding is due to the legacy of the entire village celebrating the bride and groom’s union. This is a wonderful thing but in this economic recession–not feasible!

My fiance, who is the Filipino one, never wanted a large wedding. He didn’t really want it to be a huge ordeal. Just a natural evolution of our relationship. I didn’t even imagine this or think it was something to be considered because my family is so small. I think the largest party my family has ever thrown had about 40 people! My uncles and aunts are not married, and I have no cousins. I have never attended a marriage in my own family!

My fiance and I decided that 100 people would be our absolute max. Anything more we would be uncomfortable. Really we hope that the turn out would be more like 75. But 100 would be our cap. This was how we initially decided on our wedding size.

But the closer and closer the wedding gets the more I have to explain why Auntie X or Uncle Z isn’t invited. I say “We are only inviting immediate family.” Or I try to divert the blame, “It’s not up to me, Mr. Cali Girl is in charge of his guests. If he thinks we should invite them then I will add them to the guest list” But I hate this. I don’t want to burn any bridges, I don’t know the ties of all his family’s relationships. I wish I wouldn’t have to be faced with this.

I wish I could have just had that 500 person event in a huge hall so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I am a softie! I love people. But in reality my venue only fits 120 (and this would be with no dance floor). So reality is we WILL have a small wedding. Well, a small one for his family and a LARGE one for mine!

How did you decide on your wedding guest list size? Economics? Family size? Comfort level?

Deciding On a Guest List

My new extended family (circa 1985) * personal photo

My fiance, a second generation Filipino, has a lot more family members than me. A LOT more than me! All of my uncles and aunts do not have children. None of them are even married. I have no immediate cousins. I have one sister. She has one son. In my The Knot wedding guest tracker “The Bride’s Family” is only 14 guests. And this is when everyone who is single brings a date! In short, I have always wanted a huge extended family–now I will be getting one!

So it wasn’t so hard getting my guest list together. However, when you have a large family it is a bit trickier. Not so much his nuclear family (he is one of three)–it is hard to invite some people and not others.

How do you decide who comes and who stays? Well, for us, it is based on a.) budget, b.) relationship, and c.) space. We decided to invite his parents siblings (his aunts and uncles) and their children but no one beyond that. No second cousins or else it would be too huge.

Our venue fits 100 people, and originally we were aiming for 75. Right now our guest list is at 121. We haven’t yet sent out our invitations and I am sure when we start sending them out we will think of people we forgot about!

So brides, how did you decide on your guest list? Was it a hard decision?

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.