winnowing353

Do we really have to invite her?

It usually begins with a text message to your mobile phone asking "What's your home address?" then, two or three weeks later, "it" arrives in the mail.

"You are invited to the wedding of Jack and Diane," says the embossed, heavy-gauge flap of tasteful, cream cardboard. You think "Sweet, this'll be fun" and, then you see the suggestions for accommodation in Byron Bay, Bali or friggin' Bangladesh.

Yes, you are invited ... to spend a shitload of money.

Surely you've had this happen? A friend or family member ties the knot but, because they had their first kiss on the powdered slopes of Queenstown, they decide to recreate the magic for 100 guests on the South Island of New Zealand.

Actually, Queenstown wouldn't be too bad a prospect, I'd drop a grand to get loose in the snowfields. However, when it's some bordering-on-bogan beach resort or a wine region where three inbred families control the pricing of the B & B market like the Sicilian mafia, it can be a whole lot of money to spend to hear crap speeches.

Flights. Car hire. Accommodation. And if you have children, you have to farm them out or bring them with you. Then it's more clams for babysitters or bribes to relatives to look after your little darlings.

And that's if it's domestic. Overseas weddings? Add in the cost of visas, travel insurance, rabies shots and, maybe, a discreet firearm once you've landed, if the groom's from the former Soviet Union.

But hold on, you also want me to buy you a friggin' wedding present? I'd have thought my "presence" in Zagreb proved my affection?

Weddings are funny: couples want them to reflect their personalities but the thing that's so intimate and enduring about us, our friends, often seem to get pushed aside for all these people "you have to invite".

I reckon a solid 37 per cent of every wedding's guests are made up of family friends the bride and groom see once a year at funerals, but who'll be so offended if they don't get a invite, the happy couple are shamed into adding a table that could double as extras for The Walking Dead.

Few are spared this discomfort. Bonnie Prince William and Kate Middleton revealed recently the original guest list to their wedding last year contained 777 people neither of them even knew.

That's a lot of awkward drunken conversations.

That said, weddings can really help crystalise who are the people who matter in your life. I've never been married, but for years I've carried an "imaginary wedding guest list" in my head that changes as regularly as the footy table.

Sure, there are the predictable ladder-leaders like my mates Pablo and Hendo and Gibbo, but I'm often surprised about bolters, who've lately entered my heart as friends and who I couldn't now imagine not inviting to my "wedding".

Then there are people who, 10 years ago I'd have said were lay down miseres to be in my bridal party, but today I'd be hard pressed to squeeze on to the zombie table next to the dunnies.

In this regard, an overseas wedding does separate the wheat from the chaff, and more than a few people I know who've gone down this path say the travel involved almost guarantees most of your living dead relatives and friends will make polite excuses and not attend.

So, I guess, before you RSVP, saying you can't make it to Jack and Diane's big day in Hong Kong next January, you should ask yourself, "Am I grain or husk?"

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.