(Closed) Guest list etiquette

posted 13 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
81 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Personally, I don’t think if one side pays, they "get" more guests. Not everyone agrees with me, though.

I also think that if one side of the family is substantially bigger, there will be more members of that family present. Again, not everyone willagree with me; some will say each side gets the same number of people.

I also don’t think weddings are a time for "social obligations" as you call it. Weddings are a celebration, as you know, not a time for reciprocating. Again, some people will disagree with me.

I say if your side of the family is bigger, you get more. But try to make the family friends list more even. Unless your parents are massively more social than his parents, then it just seems unfair to not have a more even list. I really do think family friends should be more even in numbers.

But I also think you need to talk to your fiance. What does he think? Is he understanding that your family is bigger, therefore more will attend? If so, he should talk to his mom.

Post # 4
27 posts
  • Wedding: July 2009

Here’s my story: My family is a mix of Mormon (Big Families) and Italian (Big LOUD Families), my FI’s family is Scots/Irish/Catholic (Big Loud Families drinking whiskey in kilts).

There is no way that we could possibly ever fit everyone into one place without leaving out a bunch of people, and really, do you really want to not have your friends there? What we’re going to do is have two receptions. Actually, one reception and one Open House. The open house will take place at my FMIL’s club and will be a mix of B-list guests and friends of hers. We’re going to save the decorations from ther reception and just do finger food. It’s not a lot of money, just time, and it will save you from having to fight. The biggest question becomes who REALLY needs a wedding invitation and who can you get by with inviting to a lower scale open house that can take place sometime later.

 Good luck, I hope this helps!

Post # 5
30 posts
  • Wedding: Small church ceremony, museum reception

Tough call! We had a very similar guest list situation (including the financing part), only my family is about… 10xs bigger than his. So it’s wildly uneven, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. There was no way to cut the immediate family we’re inviting, and frankly his family isn’t as close-knit so I didn’t feel as bad about putting my foot down (why cut a close cousin to invite an aunt he hasn’t spoken to in ten years?) Then again, my parents didn’t add any additional guests out of social obligations, nor did his family. If there is any way you can have your Future Mother-In-Law understand you can’t extend to people you aren’t close with, it would really help. I hate to say it, but I am of the mind set that if they’re not contributing much or at all, then they shouldn’t be dictating your guest list. But that’s just my 2 cents. Good luck!

Post # 6
181 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2008

If one side has a larger family than the other I don’t think you should have to cut back the large family in order to make the numbers equal. I do think, however, that you should think about who you are inviting if one family is substantially larger and not invite aunt/uncles/cousins who you don’t even talk to… and/or their dates!

We have a similar issue in that my family is footing the bill and therefore my mother thinks she can invite whoever she wants…. which to a certain extent sounds like a good argument, but at the same time, it is your FI’s wedding as well and just because his parents cannot afford to cough up the money he should not be disadvantaged because of it.

So my bottom line is that I think unequal amounts of family are fine, as family size is not something that you can choose, but try and make the parent’s friends sizes as equal as possible.

Good luck… this is a tough situation!

Post # 7
1485 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

My family is huge compared to his – and since I recently moved halfway across the country, his list of friends who could make it to the wedding was much larger than mine.  We basically agreed on a set of criteria for guests, rather than trying to make the numbers match up in any way.  We invited siblings, aunts, uncles, and first cousins only as far as family goes (all grandparents have passed away).  For friends, we invited only those that we socialize with regularly (at least several times a year) or those Out of Town friends that we communicate with often.  For our parents, we let them know that we would be happy to have their friends there, with the caveat that we would prefer to have only people that one or the other of us actually knew – so no parents’ friends that we don’t know.

I think this was a fair method.  Much more so than dividing up the guest list by numbers, which just doesn’t really work if families and very different sizes.

On the subject of "social obligations" – of course, you can do whatever you want.  But we were pretty firm with our parents (and ourselves) that our wedding was not to be used to finally pay back that dinner invitation you had last year…  because seriously, if you haven’t done anything with those folks since then, you don’t like them that much anyway.  We also disallowed inviting ANY work friends, unless we honestly believed that they are social friends as well (that we do things with them regularly outside of work, and would remain friends even if we no longer worked together).

As a general rule, we found that anytime anybody said "Well, but we really HAVE to invite…" that actually meant that those people shouldn’t be on the guest list.  Your wedding should be about having the people around you that love you, not about social obligations and networking.  Particularly if you have a lack of space.

And I’m not sure why you would be sending the guest list as a whole to you Future Mother-In-Law anyway.  As long as you make sure the addresses and name spellings are correct for her portion of the guest list, how many people are otherwise invited is really none of her concern, unless she is paying for the reception.  I would double-check only "her" portion of the guest list with her, and leave it at that.

Post # 8
668 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2010

I agree with most of the other posters on the numbers situation — it stinks but just go with who you want at your wedding.

 In regards to dealing with his mother – I think this is the time where your fiance just has to step in. He needs to be the person who informs his mother that these are the finals numbers and this is what your guest list looks like.  Look to him to have the difficult discussion. It is his wedding too – and he should be able to "stand up" to his mother. I would hate for this to cause a rift between you and your future Mother-In-Law when he can handle this discussion himself.

Good luck though!!  And remember it is your day. You and your fiance. The day should be about you and not about obligations to anyone!  Even your parents (even if they are paying!). 

Post # 9
47 posts

i agree with suzanno. there’s no need to send your Future Mother-In-Law your whole guest list. also, i do believe that the side that pays more gets to invite more.

Post # 10
23 posts
  • Wedding: June 2021

My opinion is that both sides of the family should be invited regardless of size.  But, I think that if one side of the family is much larger than the other maybe you can make it up by trimming up the friends of family on the larger side.  You mentioned how you have put 2 sets of family friends from each side on the B list.  How about putting 4 sets from your family’s side and none from his side.  If your Future Mother-In-Law starts pointing out numbers you can point to that as what you are doing to comprimise. 

Post # 11
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

I’m in the same exact situation as well! And I knew the guest list would be a problem, so I tried to get that knocked out in the first month of our engagement. Here I am, 8 months later and 8 months to go, and I still can’t come to a conclusion on what to do.

Technically, my venue can hold 150, 200 at the most. I REALLY wanted to get the list down to 150, but it seems my mother is incapable of budging on this. I’m getting a lot of financial help from my family, with my mother paying the bulk of it, so she thinks she should be able to invite whomever she wishes. Future Mother-In-Law is giving us very little.

As it is right now, my side has 106. Future Mother-In-Law has 96. Fiance and I have 54, which totals a whopping 256 people!!! It’s ridiculous, and I’m already having problems with Future Mother-In-Law on other issues… So I feel your pain. If you come up with a solution, I’d love to hear it!

Post # 13
22 posts

I suggest you coming up with a "Cap" number, this helped me and my Fiance figure out who was the most important to us.  Because he has a huge immediate family (70) we have decided to cut kids and those not over 16. This really helped. We are also having an after party to be able to invite more of our friends as well as inviting them all to our welcome bbq the night before the wedding so they have a reason to travel and feel included.  There will be music, light appetizers and hopefully just fun.

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