I’m in the exact same situation – well, pretty similar.
I have FINALLY gotten over my anxiety, so here’s some advice:
1) Aside from money, don’t stress over the number of guests. I was obsessed with having 100 guests – I saw pictures of beautiful rustic/bohemian intimate weddings on wedding blogs and had my mind made up that I wanted a really small wedding, where we would have time to interact with every person and make every person feel special. Our guest list crept up (due to my FILs), and I got very upset when I realized our wedding wasn’t going to be “intimate.” But everyone kept telling me that our day will pass so quickly that it won’t make a difference to my Fiance and I if we invited 50 guests or 150 or 200 – we will be surrounded by love, and (hopefully!) everyone will enjoy the celebration. My Fiance is Persian, and the Persians believe the more the merrier – they invite everyone they know to weddings. Even though that’s not how I feel personally, I have come to be OK with them inviting people I don’t know or I don’t know well, because they are in one way or another important to my Future In-Laws and that is important to me.
2) Since our guest list grew so much, I had to cut a LOT of things that I’ve had my heart set on for months. Such as: flowers (our floral budget is now $300), vintage furniture rental (that’s what most brides do at our outdoor wedding venue!), a sweets table (just ordering 2 cakes for so many people puts us at ~$600), uplighting, beer and wine now instead of open bar, etc. That made me pretty upset… But I kept reminding myself of the mantra of “A Practical Wedding” – people will remember how your wedding felt, not how it looked. Many bees have said it on these wedding boards, but it’s so true – only recent brides tend to remember chair covers, flower arrangements, etc. But everyone will remember if they had a good time! Just keep that in mind 🙂
3) We had the same issue with inviting people to the shower – for us it was the engagement party. The Future In-Laws threw the party, invited a lot of people we weren’t planning on inviting to the wedding, and those people bought us gifts. Awkward. So we ended up inviting them. And you know what? They’ll probably come to the wedding too. But this goes back to #1 – in some way or another, they are important to my Future In-Laws. And when it comes down to it, I would rather keep a good relationship with my Future In-Laws than worry about which (extra) faces are there the day of the wedding. And I secretly hope that those people gift us the Le Creuset cookware from our registry 🙂
4) You DEFINITELY need to work things out with your Fiance. That’s the most important thing above all, or else there wouldn’t be a wedding!! My Fiance got super frustrated when we were going through what you’re going through, and he said “fine, you work it out with my parents. Leave me out of this!” When really, the advice I got from most of the bees here was that your Fiance should deal directly with his family’s issues, and you should deal with yours. He and I came up with a gameplan, which helped us both destress, and executed the gameplan (I’ll describe below), and after a few more tough conversations with his parents it was all over. Now that our save-the-dates are in the mail we don’t even worry or talk about it anymore. But in general, be very careful with family – I’m sure his family is really important to him, and in the worst moments, be careful not to badmouth his family. I am guilty of that, and it always leads to arguments that I really wish I could take back.
5) So, for the finances, since those are really at the heart of the argument. In our situation, my parents are paying for most of the wedding, since they are better off than my Future In-Laws. Still, they cannot afford to spend a fortune on the wedding, so they’ve given us a total limit of $x and anything beyond that we have to come up with ourselves. We are paying for the rehearsal dinner, and various parts of the wedding, and we are also paying a lot for our honeymoon. His parents offered to pay for the alcohol and all of the Persian decorations. And that’s it. After the guest list doubled and tripled, and our budget truly became bare-bones, we decided that we needed to ask his parents to help out. Especially since their guest list makes up 75% of the people invited. At that point, I read all over the internet about how most brides and grooms allocate the guest list between themselves and their families. I wish from the beginning we had split the guest list 33%/33%/33% so everyone would have a fair share of the guests, and then we could’ve met our target number of guests. But we didn’t. So what he and I decided to tell his parents was, since they have chosen to invite much more people than we had budgeted for, they would need to help cover the cost of the extra people. Any cent over our budget ($x), we will ask them to cover. The bride’s family traditionally pays for the wedding – and it sounds like you and your family are STILL paying for the ceremony and the reception, so if they pitch in for the cost of food, drinks, etc. for having extra guests at the reception, that isn’t really a deviation from the norm. I also told my Future In-Laws that my parents felt that it was unfair to be shouldering the entire cost of the wedding, when they had invited a modest number of people- and when we brought that up, they felt guilty and agreed to help contribute. Because they realized that they were given the choice of inviting extras and paying, or sticking to their closest friends and family. In the end, they cut some people from their list, and so we are still WAY beyond the number of guests we originally planned on, but we are expecting them to help out with the finances.
6) Show your Future In-Laws your budget. I keep a really detailed spreadsheet of our expenses – what we’ve already paid for deposits, how much we expect food, drinks, parking, etc. to be for each guest, and how much my parents and I are contributing. I don’t know if you’ve just talked about it with your Future In-Laws or if you’ve shared your budget with them, but that should really help. My Future In-Laws thought that when we were complaining about the budget, it was because we were too elaborate on the “extras” like flowers and decorations, and that the marginal cost of inviting extra guests was pretty low. They were surprised when they found out that the majority of our budget is going directly to the reception – food, drinks, alcohol, cake.
Good luck! And remember that no matter what happens, you are getting married to the love of your life!! I always tell my Fiance that I don’t care who shows up at the wedding as long as he does. And it’s true.