Post # 1
This is sort of long…
I got engaged recently and one of the first things I did was to ask my parents to give me their A list and B list, stressing that we would like to keep things smaller and more intimate both for financial reasons and that is the sort of celebration we would prefer. I also asked my FI to put his lists together and to ask his parents for their A and B list.
My parents gave me theirs, and I was able to combine it with my lists with no problem, making my side 30 people. At that point I thought this guest list thing was going to be a breeze. ha.
My FI really dragged his feet with his list. First he sent FMIL’s. I about had a panic attack on the subway on my way to work when I first looked at it. There is no A list/B list. Just one big list. Of 81 people. I had FI talk to her to find out who were truly A listers… and she says that they all are, that everyone there needs an invite. But they insist that around 40 of these people all are in their 90’s with cancer and will absolutely not attend. Our wedding will be in NYC where we live and almost all our guests will be coming from out of state. We are planning to have a second reception after the wedding in his homestate since many of them prob will not be able to make the journey to the wedding.
I’m concerned about many things… My parents are contributing a significant amount- I’ve actually been blown away with their generosity. FI has asked his parents if they can help as well, and they have hemmed and hawed a little bit. I think they’ll help a little, but I’m not counting on it. I know there are a lot of people my parents would have liked to invite but haven’t – and with them paying for so much of the wedding, I would hate for them to look around on my wedding day and feel like they’ve thrown a party for my FIL’s extended family and circle of friends/acquaintances… that would make me feel horrible.
As of now, my side has 30 and his has 48 for the definite will most likely attend… and then there are the additional 40 for his side who they say need invites but swear won’t come. I don’t think you can guarantee that someone won’t come. And if you know they won’t come, isn’t it in bad taste to send them an invite? Like you are just looking for a present? And if we are having a separate reception nearer to where they live, shouldn’t we just invite them to that? I’m wondering if maybe I should add on some people from my parent’s B list who didn’t originally make my cut to even things out more? But that means more people- a bigger more impersonal celebration and more money spent.
I can’t believe how much this is all stressing me out. Our parents haven’t met each other yet, but if the FIL’s insist on including so many more guests, I’m worried it might cause friction between my parents and his. I also feel a bit put off – I feel like they haven’t respected my wishes. Any advice anyone?
Post # 3
I would try to come up with a number for each side as a limit and let your FI know that he needs to dicuss this with his mom. Since they are not contributing (and its not their wedding) it should be the price and size that you want! Also, be very careful with the "they will never come" people- we had quite a few of those RSVP to our wedding! I think that it should be easy to cut people since you are having a 2nd reception, so everyone will get an invite to something!
Post # 4
Your 2nd reception is your golden ticket out of this. I agree with ashlop2, set a number for each side of the family (30 sounds good since that’s the number your fam has!).
You and FI together should talk to his parents and tell them that is the number. But to help you so you don’t come off as being mean, word it in a way that sounds like FMIL is getting what she wants in the end…
"You said that half of your list won’t make the trip anyway. S rather than send them an invite to the wedding and make them feel bad, you can tell those people that you are hosting a reception just for them back home so they can celebrate with all of you and not have to go out of their way to come to NYC."
If you give FMIL some tools on how to manage expectations and her potential embarrassment of not inviting people, it’ll make you look like you’re being helpful rather than stubborn. Best of luck!
Post # 5
This was me, like, 4 months ago. Exact situation. I had to go through my FI’s list with him, person by person, figuring out who the person was and if they were in fact A-list or B-list. He ended up "needing" to invite 80 on the A-list — 20 people over the max number I gave him, so their family doesn’t get a B-list. They’ve "promised" me that all these people wouldn’t come (sounds surprisingly similar to you!), but I still have my doubts. Regardless, some people need to be invited — you can’t invite some cousins but not others, that kind of thing.
It totally caused friction. My mom kept getting bent out of shape because she was paying for their overage of people (his family didn’t know she was upset though, thankfully — that would have made the situation really awkward). She didn’t even have more people she wanted to invite, she was just upset about the principle of it! Eventually, she dropped it when she realized that these people were going to be my family too, that they should be invited and that we just have a smaller family than they do.
We ended up deciding that family came before friends and we didn’t allow our friends to bring their flavors of the week for dates. We also put all of the kids at a kids table in a separate room, which freed up some space and some $$ (kids meals are usually cheaper).
I would recommend getting your FI to explain the situation to his parents and sitting down with them to go through the list person-by-person. For us, it was really helpful. Brainstorming ways to limit the guest list (limiting kids, limiting dates, just doing very close family, etc.) that fit your venue and your budget will also help. After you cut your FI’s list down somewhat, if it’s still much bigger than your parents’ list, I would talk to your parents about it. It may seem strange to you to have his family outnumbering yours when your parents are paying for most of it, but maybe they’ll just be happy that these people want to celebrate with you (I’m an optimist).
Post # 6
I had the same problem. We are aiming for less than 150 people b/c my parents are paying and that’s what they can afford. We split the number right down the middle with 75 each. FILs first list was 140 people even though I told them their number and they said the same thing about a B list. Their big excuse was that people would talk and find out they were on the B list. I spoke with FI who told them they had to cut cut cut!!! The first cut got the number to 100. They kept insisting that we had to send invitations to a lot of them, but that they wouldn’t come. Well… they might think they won’t come, but who knows. Since my parents are paying, they don’t want their side to have more people. So finally after SOOOO much fighting they have 77 people (not including FI’s friends). I think that’s about the best we’re going to do. So now I actually do have to HOPE that people don’t come so my parents don’t get REALLY angry at me… it makes me really uncomfortable!
Post # 7
Oh I feel your pain. I totally AGREE about the "oh but they won’t come" scenario. You don’t know that! NYC is a destination, and people might want to make a touristy vacation out of it. My wedding is in the SF area, and I am so worried about the same thing. FIL’s invited 10 more people that my 2 sets of divorced parents combined. AND my parents are paying for the majority. It’s a sticky sticky situation. I SHOULD have put my foot down more and said "You can only invite X amount of people. Period." but I didn’t. I regret it. You should definitely assert yourself early. Set the tone (in a nice respectful way, of course) now, and you will make things so much easier for the long run.
Ugh. related rant: why do people think they can bring their kids/random date/neighbor when they are not invited?
Post # 8
Is his family a lot bigger than yours? My immediate family, meaning mother father, brothers, sisters, husbands, and kids adds up to 30! Never mind my favorite aunts, uncles ect.
Post # 9
That’s terrible! Invite lists are so tricky… We’re paying for the majority of the wedding, through my FILs came through and are paying for the venue – it’s right near their house, incredibly lovely and WAY out of our price range. Thankfully, the venue put a huge cap on the number of people we can have, which has cut down dramatically on the number of ‘extended’ invites. That said, before we even sent out save the dates, a group of four family friends who live out of the country said they’re coming and making a holiday out of it.
We had them on our list of people to invite, but did not count on them actually coming out. Since we found out early, we were able to adjust our list, but that meant cutting some of the FILs other family friends.
Hints have been dropped about wanting to invite others, but they understand that we have a strict limit and the guest list is primarily their family anyway (it’s HUGE). So far, everyone has been cool about it. To incorporate more of our friends into the celebration, we’re hosting a second reception that is less formal and not such a strictly-family affair.
Best of luck. If you have your eye on a venue, that may be a way to help enforce an upper limit on invites. Even though they may SWEAR that their 40 won’t come, there is no way to guarantee and it’s a lot worse to have too many people than to have people you’ve not met bent out of shape because they didn’t receive an invite.
The whole issue of who can come to a wedding is a HUGE thing. We insisted from the start that we want an intimate wedding with just close family and friends with firm rules about people either one of us haven’t met. Who wants a bunch of strangers at the wedding?? It’s always nice to be invited, but this is a day for YOU and your FI, not a day for his parents to show off to their friends. If they were paying for it, that would be another story, but they are not. While they will become your new family, it’s no reason to create ill feelings within your family.
Best of luck and stay strong!
Post # 10
since your parents are the ones footing the majority of the bill, could you nicely hint "while we would love to invite everyone on your guest list, my parents aren’t able to contribute enough to cover that many guests. and even with FI and i chipping in what we have, we still can’t afford to invite your entire list to our wedding." and then of course, graciously offer to invite all of those guests to your second reception, as all the previous posters suggested.
Post # 11
[getting on soapbox]
The invitation/guest list madness really gets to me. The day is about celebrating the union of two people. They should be surrounded by the people they want. If other parties are chipping in or paying for it, they should get say, but following the guidelines of what the couple would like to do. Inviting the neighbor from the old house that you’ve not seen in 10 years is not appropriate.
Neither is it appropriate for friends or family to openly inquire if they are invited. How incredibly rude! It’s the equivalent of asking someone if they are going to buy you an expensive gift. That would never be tolerated, yet some folks think it is ok to ask if they are invited – not realizing the sometimes staggering cost of each guest and the extra time/resources it takes to include more people. Even if your wedding is paid for entirely or if you’re doing it yourself on a shoestring, these things matter. We think very carefully about the guest lists and rarely are able to include everyone we’d like to. Being reminded of that in such a rude way is not a stress anyone needs.
rant over, thank you for listening!
Post # 12
Be careful about "they definitely won’t come people", more than you think will make it. I have alot of family in New York and the wedding is in Wisconsin. We assumed none of them would come but quite a few are. Also I have a Grandmother that I have never met (at least that I can remember, she is my biological fathers mom & my parents got divorced when I was 4 & he hasn’t ever been in the picture) who lives in Ohio. My mom & I deceided we should invite her since she has kept in contact some what with letters to my mom & christmas cards but thought there is no way she will come. Well she is. So you would be surprised how many people will make it that you think won’t.
Post # 13
I am sorry for your guest list drama 🙁 We are going to set a number for each side and hope that it works. I have heard that working for others in the past as well, including a few friends of mine who are getting married this summer. Good luck!
Post # 14
Wow- thanks so much for all the great advice everyone! Makes me feel like I’m not crazy after all : )
Our immediate families are actually about the same size, but his are more condensed in one geographic area. I think his mom is falling prey to the old well, we went to so-and-so’s daughter’s wedding 15 years ago, so we have to invite them. They apparently didn’t invite certain people years ago when FSIL got married and they regretted it and are now trying to make up for it. And they want to invite distant extended family members even though they are… distant.
It’s stressful. I want everyone to get along and to please everyone without sacrficing my own hopes. sigh.
Post # 15
I am SO sorry for what you’re going through! Fortunately, your parents footing the bill will be your way out. (BTW: I hope his parents are paying for the home town reception, that should not be your parents’ responsibility at all.) Tell your FILs that your parents budget will not allow for more than a certain number of guests. Be firm & give them their allotted number (it’s up to you to decide the % on each side. When contributions are different, there’s no rule for that either). They may be mad at first, but they can invite the difference to their home town reception or pay the difference. It seems tense now but when reality sets in, they’ll get over it. Best of luck!
Post # 16
Oh boy I’m in the same boat too, does anyone have any sort of way of determining OOT yes’s? my original goal was 80.. and yep were up to 177 (but 90 are OOT).