You already know who you want to invite to your wedding. Your immediate family. Your best friends. Your sorority sisters. Maybe you’ll even let your fiancee invite one or two people. Then your mom comes along with her own invitation list and no care for what you want. Uh oh.
You’re going to get pushback from somebody over who is (and isn’t) on your guest list. They’re going to try to influence who you are and aren’t inviting to your wedding. Don’t they realize that this is your wedding!?
Well, yeah. It is and it isn’t. For as much as you think it’s just about the two of you, it isn’t. Your parents and other close family members have raised you and helped you get to this point. They’re almost as invested in this as you are.
While it’s possible that everybody and their mother-in-law could have a say in it, there are two types of people (other than you) who get a say in who gets invited and has it carry any weight. These people have…
Money in the Game: They get a say if they’re bankrolling this little wedding endeavor. The more money they’re donating to the cause, the more of a say that they get. That’s especially true if they’re paying for the catering, the largest per-person cost of the wedding.
Time in the Game: You know the cliche “time is money?” That counts here too. Your attendance influencer might not be contributing dollars, but if they’re contributing substantial amounts of time, they get a say too.
Parents are notorious for trying to add people to guest lists. They can do that if they fall under the money and/or time caveats. If they’re sitting this one out, then you have the right to tell them that their guests are sitting it out.
One you’ve determined who will be influencing your guest list, you need to figure out how much sway they have. As noted above, more money and/or more time allows for more influence. However, there isn’t a set formula to calculate an exact amount. It’s not like your parents contributed half of the budget so that means they get to name half of the guests.
It’s all a negotiation. Everything from this point on is a judgment call and you’re in charge of making the judgment.
There are factors to consider when allotting the invitations. The most important is your budget. The cost of catering will balloon when you make a significant change to your guest count. Other costs can go up a little. Those include your cake, florals, rentals, stationary, and possibly transportation (if you’re providing it for everybody).
A smaller factor is your venue. They can only hold so many people safely and you can’t go over it, no matter how much your mother wants to invite her coworkers and how much your dad wants to invite his golf buddies. (Imagine the fire marshal shutting down your wedding because it’s over the allowed occupancy. That could be a heck of a story.)
Yet another factor is the size of your wedding. If you’re trying to have an intimate wedding with 30 guests and your mom is set on inviting the entire 100 person quilting club, then something’s gotta give.
Regardless of which of these situations pertain to you, you’ll need to talk it over with your guest count influencer(s) and negotiate. If you’re on the same page, then there won’t be much to talk about. More likely, you’ll need to compromise what you want with what they want. Come up with a decision that makes everybody happy.
What about the people who want influence but aren’t providing time or money? They don’t get a say if you don’t want them to have one. You can tell them, diplomatically, that the quilting club isn’t invited.