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What Should You Do If Your Parents' Wedding Guest List Is Too Long?

And they just won't budge.

Contributing Writer
jen geoff wedding couple with parents
Photography by: Kate Headley

It's a nightmare we've all had before: It comes time for you, your fiancé, and both sets of parents to compile a guest list (one of the most dreaded—yet important—wedding-planning tasks), and their number turns out to be way higher than you allotted. First, anger sets in. It's your wedding! "How can they possibly assume they get to invite this many people?" Then, panic. "The venue we loved only holds 200 people, and right now our list is at 250." You've both tried to reason with your parents, but despite numerous conversations, no one will budge. What can you do?

 

This situation is so difficult because of the tricky family dynamics at play. No, it's not your parent's wedding, but you do want to be respectful of them (especially if they're contributing to the wedding budget). If you've discussed the guest list multiple times and you're still not getting anywhere, let them see the numbers. Start by breaking down exactly how many people each group wants to invite. Let's say your future in-laws have a much smaller list, or you tell them how small your list is—that should give them some perspective that there's an uneven distribution of invitees amongst the important players.

 

Related: Which Family Members Should Have a Say in Your Wedding Guest List?

 

Also do your research: Ask to see their list and bring up concerns for the people you don't know. Walk them through how you cut down your own list and reassure them it's okay to not invite the neighbor down the street you send holiday cards to.

 

Another option is to show them the money. Calculate the difference in price and how much higher the bill will be for you should their list stay the same. If they're willing to pay the difference, then it's something to consider. But if it comes down to more than just the money, say that. Whether you want an intimate wedding, have exceeded the maximum number for your venue, or want to personally know everyone at the reception, communicating your reasoning might be all it takes to get them to adjust their list.