Almost as soon as you announce your engagement, you'll probably find your parents penning a guest list for the wedding. Before they get carried away, you'll want to secure your venue and set a clear budget so you know exactly how many people you can invite. Once that's all set, you should come up with your ideal guest list first. Once you know who you'd like to invite, you can go to your parents and sort through their own lists. Here's what you need to know about managing their invites.
Consider the budget etiquette issue.
While you may be paying for some of your wedding costs, it's likely that your parents are pitching in a bit, too. If so, they have a lot more negotiating weight when it comes to your wedding guest list. While you may feel like they're going overboard and inviting more guests than you and your fiancé are inviting, if they're covering the costs, you likely won't have much say in the matter.
Setting a budget early on should be a priority.
Before you can even think about committing to a guest count, you need to figure out what your wedding budget is going to be. Only then can you, or your parents, begin to talk about how many guests each group gets to invite.
Your venue size may be a good negotiating tool.
If your wedding venue is significantly smaller than your parents may have envisioned, you can probably negotiate your way into a smaller guest list from their side. For instance, if you can only fit 150 guests, you might decide to invite about 75 guests as a couple and let each set of parents divvy up the remaining capacity. If you go to your parents from the beginning with a solid number of guests they can include, it'll make this part of the planning a lot easier.
Be fair, clear, and honest.
While there's no standard formula for how many guests either set of parents should get to invite, it's important to be fair across the board. If your parents are inviting 20 guests, your in-laws should also be able to invite 20 guests. Be candid about the way you've calculated your guest lists so you can avoid any later issues with your parents on this topic.
It's okay to speak up if your parents are inviting anyone you'd rather not have at your wedding.
If there's someone specific on your parents' list that you either don't get along with or don't know at all, it's okay to speak up and ask that your parents leave them off. They may have their reasoning, so you'll have to see this conversation through, but don't be afraid to voice your concerns.