People are going to be annoyed with you, no matter what you do. Accept it. Some people will be annoyed they, or their friends, are not invited. Your 17YO cousin may be demanding her Boyfriend or Best Friend come. Your aunt may be upset her kid is not a flower girl. You need to say NO early and often. Do NOT give excuses, becuase the whiners will try to “solve” it. Just say, very sorry, we have made our decision. Make certain Fiance understand this and is 100% on board with you.
It took extra time, but my cousin did her RSVPs with names written in. Not we have reserved X seats, but:
Mr John Smith Will Attend Regrets choice of entry
Mrs. J Smith Will Attend Regrets
It took her more time, but, In My Humble Opinion, well worth it.
If people ask, my husband cannot make it, can I bring someone else? the answer is NO. YOU and your fiance are paying, and guests do not make up guest list.
Strongly agree, avoid Save-The-Date Cards, except for intl guests. Write a nice letter to grandparents,and your parents know the date.
Make certain both mothers understand all your decisions. If you are paying, do NOT tell them to give you a list of guests. Tell them, they are allocated X guests. Or tell them, we are inviting all aunts and uncles, all cousins (if you are, this is optional) and you can have X guests. Make certain they understand that if someone is married or engaged, that the count means 2 per couple. Make certain they understand whether or not you are giving them plus ones. Tell them THEY are responsible for giving you name, address of guest AND if guest does not RSVP, THEY have to follow up on non-responders.
Contracts — once you sign a contract, you lose all leverage. Reveiw carefully. Ask if tips included? Valet tips? Bartender tips? Is parking including. Make certain you understand when deposits are due. Sometimes the place that seems more expense is not, if you can use their linens and do not have to decorate.