@emeraldcity13: Let’s try and break it down. In these kinds of emotional situations, it can be hard not to lump everything together, but I find it helpful to break each thing that annoys me into pieces and see which ones are valid and I should try to fix, which ones I should let go.
Guest List: I have to say, if he’s paying, I think he does get to add people to the guest list. Now, I don’t think he gets to say your FI’s side doesn’t get to add people, so I would just answer that question of “Yes, we’re trying to be very inclusive. Let me know if you have any concerns about the cost and we can work something out.”
Discussing Money: I flat out refused to discuss other people’s contributions to the wedding with my dad. You have to know your own family, but for my dad, that would have caused hurt feelings and drama. I just told him he was welcome to give whatever he would like, including nothing, but that I didn’t think it would help anyone to be sharing that kind of information.
Small vs Big Wedding: If you really want a smaller, more intimate wedding, I do think you should pursue that. But I think you need to be prepared that your dad won’t want to pay, and that’s okay.
Here’s how I handled it with my money-dysfunctional family. My dad is also paying the majority of the wedding, but it took awhile for him to get there in a way that I was comfortable with. Whenever any one of our parents volunteered money, I was very grateful and then said, “Okay, let’s talk about the expectations for this event.” They will claim there are no expectations. No one thinks they have expectations. They do. I went through a very specific list of questions with each parent. Things like – “Do you expect me to invite certain people? Do you expect me to wear something specific? Do you expect a certain kind of meal/music/entertainment/bar? Do you want a certain form of wording on the invitations?”
I REALLY pushed them on the questions. I would throw out really far-fetched situations (like eloping or wearing a bright red dress or whatever) and then back in from there. They might say they don’t care but then when you start backing into it, they find their tolerance level.
Ultimately, my dad decided to give me a set amount of money and allow me to manage it, although he has wanted to be kept in the loop. It did take awhile to get there, but it is very good for our relationship for me not to have to clear decisions with him. He DID get to add people to the guest list though. And I did a detailed budget and shared it with him and we went line by line discussing each expense.
If you think your dad would be open to it, I’d totally suggest making a rough budget, sitting down with him and explaining your vision, and seeing if he is on board with that. From there, ask him what kind of decisions he wants you to check in on and what kinds of things you’re empowered to do yourself.
I think you have to set out clear guidelines from the very beginning or people have these hidden expectations they didn’t even know they have and then end up with hurt feelings. No one is a mind-reader.
They get to decide the terms under which they give the money. But you get to decide the terms under which you accept it.