How to fairly split wedding invitation list

My boyfriend and I come from very traditional community in which the bride’s family still foots the bill for the whole thing. The tradition here is that the parents get to invite all the extended family, friends, etc to the daughter’s wedding and the son’s wedding they invite a limited amount.

The problem is that my boyfriend has a ridiculously large immediate family (his mother has six siblings and each has three already married kids) and even larger extended family. My guy barely stays in touch with his cousins, even less with his extended family.

My actual family is not that large, but we have a group of friends that we consider as family. I do spend a lot of time with my faux cousins, aunts and uncles; talk to all of them at least once a week. My FMIL expects me to cut down on my list citing their side’s actual family status. I think this is inconsiderate on her behalf, especially since my parents are paying for the wedding in whole! Am I wrong? She’s acting as if I am being unreasonable and don’t understand the concept of family. What should I do?

Joyce C Smith, MBC, President and owner of Weddings Unlimited, Inc. and Ohio State Coordinator for Association of Bridal Consultants

Looks like there needs to be a family powwow to decide this. Work for a percentage split of 25 % for both sets of parents and 50% for the bride and groom.

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy, International Protocol and Corporate & Social Etiquette

I am totally on your side here. I would say that FMIL has stepped over the line. It’s really none of her business, now is it? I would suggest however that although there is nothing you can do now, for future reference, the actual family vs. your ‘real’ family needs to be looked at. I too come from a very large family. Under no circumstances would I consider inviting all of my cousins to a function, but I would invite people whom I consider ‘family’. To my way of thinking, your FMIL should do the same. However, this is not the time to ruffle feathers. I would still ignore her request, as she is dead wrong here, unless of course she wants to step up to the plate and write the check! Best of luck with your nuptials, and with her! Remember to have compassion. We all need it from time to time!!

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

Where is the groom during all of this? It’s his family and he should have a say about the guest list, no matter who is paying.

This is something you and your groom should be deciding, not your parents, even if they are paying. There is no obligation for them to host so, if you accept their generous gift, but can’t plan the wedding that suits both the bride and groom, I’d suggest declining their offer and pay for the wedding you can afford to host on your own. Your parents really shouldn’t be using the fact that they’re footing the bill to insist that they get to make all of the decisions, including the guest list. After all, it’s a wedding for both the bride, groom and their loved ones. As Joyce said, the guest list should be split fairly.

This is a good time for your and the groom to practice your communication skills, which is essential to a successful marriage. I wish you all the best,

Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

I’m on your side too, and in agreement with everyone’s advice.

I am in total favor of the family pow-wow. Sounds like things are getting out-of-hand and now would be a great time to get with your groom, talk about what’s going on and decide how you want to approach your parents – as a couple! This situation is just the first of many that you’ll have to make in your life together. How you handle it will define you as a couple. Every decision you make in your wedding planning now, how you handle conflict – especially with parents or friends – will define you as a couple and how you handle things in the future.

You could have a casual dinner with your parents first and talk about your decision on how to handle the guest list and that you want it to be split evenly or at least fairly so that all sides are happy. Ask them what a reasonable total guest count would be, since they are paying, and then you and your fiancé can decide how you want to split that up. Then you can have a dinner with his parents and express your decisions. Making up a mock guest list before hand would be a good idea and then you can let each of your parents see it and tweak it a little with *your* approval. Express to them that the list has who you really want to have at our wedding – people who mean the most to you.

Once you’ve made your decision on how to handle this as a couple, don’t second guess yourselves. The aim here is to get the control back to you and your groom. I’d also like to know your groom’s opinion on this whole thing, too. Having a wedding pow-wow allows everyone to get their issues out on the table so that relationships can stay in tact. Tell your parents that you love them dearly and appreciate what they are doing for you for the wedding. But also tell them you feel like they’re not listening to you and what you both want. Bottom line, your parents *are* paying so 1) your FMIL needs to be respectful of that and 2) it should not trump you and your fiancé’s wishes.

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Just to add to the already great advice… If there is room in the venue and it is acceptable with your parents, have your fiance tell his mother that you and he have spoken and in addition to the X number of guests they can invite, if there are more they would like to include, that would be possible at a cost of $$ per person. Then, once there is a pricetag, your FMIL can make her choices accordingly.

Encourage your groom to be an active participant in this conversation and be sure he is providing a united front with you.

Wishing you all the best on your upcoming wedding.