If finally happened-you’re engaged! Congratulations! Now starts the exciting time of wedding planning. Next up: set a budget and create the guest list. Most couples end up spending between $200-$220/guest. It’s not impossible to be below that price range, but that is an article for another time. I have heard plenty of couples lament over finishing their guest list, only to have their in-laws send over a list of fifty or more *absolutely necessary* guests such as women neither of you have met from her book club, the receptionist at her dentist, her childhood friend who she hasn’t seen in twenty years….the list goes on.
So, what do you do when your intimate dream wedding of fifty guests suddenly turns to one hundred and fifty? Don’t worry, we have created a step-by-step guide to avoiding the guest list drama. And if that doesn’t work, we reached out to our wedding community and found some hair-raising tales from couples who didn’t follow our guidelines (because they didn’t exist then).
Avoid Guest List Drama in Four Easy Steps:
Set the budget. Remember, it will cost an average of just over $200/guest.
Decide who is paying what. Whoever pays usually expects an equal split with the couple on guest invites. This is guest list etiquette, and no proper way around it (we are sorry). If they are only paying for a portion, then you can offer that percentage of invites.
Have a Plan. Tell your families the amount of guests to add to their list (based off of steps 1 and 2) and that you would like to know by a certain date. Be as gracious and diplomatic as possible when telling them this, and say how you would like to invite people who are meaningful and closest loved ones, and who will support the marriage in the long run.
No knee-jerk reactions. Have each partner manage their own families. If they corner you, have something prepared to say such as, “Oh, let me talk to Keith,” (Keith is your partner’s name in this scenario).
PRO TIP #1: Tell your families 5-10 less people than you actually would allow them. You will seem like an absolute angel when you allow them to add on a few extra people.
PRO TIP #2: Don’t assume people won’t come. When they say, “Oh invite Deborah, she won’t come.” We cannot stress this enough, Deborah will RSVP yes. And she will ask for a plus one.
Good luck and stay positive! How you handle this could set the tone with your in-laws for a while.
The Tea: Real Married People Who Begged to Stay Anonymous:
I should have kept my ground and had the wedding I wanted.
If I had to change anything about that day, it would be a smaller wedding. We both should have done what we wanted instead of caving to pressure from others, mainly his family. I ended up having to pay for a limo bus that my mother-in-law said that she needed and would pay for, but backed out last minute.
I fought with my mom about inviting her boyfriend’s kids, I should have listened.
If I could change one thing about my wedding, it would be to not sweat the requests that my mom had. She really wanted me to invite her boyfriend’s kids, who I had no relationship with. I had such a strong feeling against this that I eventually won and they were not invited. Looking back, what was the big deal? It was just a few more people. I would not have noticed in the end. And annoyingly, a few people were no shows the day of the wedding.
When my family or in-laws kept saying, “It’s our wedding too,” it hurt.
What I said was, “It’s important to me to only have people at our wedding who will be supporters of us throughout our marriage and if I haven’t met them I don’t want to meet them at my wedding. If there is anyone truly significant to you that is fine, but I am not going to go over the top.”
What I wished I said was, “It isn’t your wedding. Your wedding was your wedding and I didn’t invite anybody to it!” (Probably good she didn’t say this, but it is truly the dream response).
When they wanted me to have a big wedding, I tried to stay diplomatic.
I told my family and in-laws that I have anxiety and don’t like big crowds of strangers.
No matter the family drama, it is still our day.
There was a lot of family drama and fighting with my in-laws right up until I was walking down the aisle. The best parts were when we were alone. We had time to breathe and just talk. We ate our meal by ourselves while sitting together and laughing. Those quiet moments are ours and can never be taken away.
We got so many responses to this question, it is impossible to post them all here. One bride summed it up beautifully, “It’s important to remember that it is truly your wedding and you need to be surrounded by people who are meaningful to you.”
But wait, we also have an engagement party story that will make you hug your own in-laws extra tight.
I said nothing, and I regretted it.
When we had our engagement party that my mother-in-law insisted on us having but didn’t want to help pay for, she told a table of her family that I was a *(use your imagination)* because my fiancé and I already lived together. This should have been a red flag.
Even if they aren’t paying for the wedding, both families of the couple see this as something monumental they have been looking forward to for your entire life. Every family is different, but weddings can actually be a time of healing. Unless you are having a micro-wedding, consider giving your parents that table of friends that they are dying to invite. You will score major brownie points, and you probably won’t even notice they are there. Probably.