It may seem like an odd custom: Your parents want to invite friends (or neighbors or even coworkers) you've never met to your wedding. Strangers witnessing the most important day of your life? What's up with that? Well, it's pretty common but there are a few things you should consider before agreeing to invite people you've never even had a conversation with to your ceremony and reception.
Who's paying for the reception?
If your parents are shelling out the big bucks, they'll feel justified in adding some of their pals to the guest list. Even if they're not paying for everything but making a substantial contribution, they'll want to have some of their friends included. Consider giving your folks a finite number of people they can invite from the beginning. If they're not offering up any financial help, there's less reason to justify handing them guest spots, but you should probably give them a few anyway out of love and respect.
Is it the custom?
In some cultures, there's a reciprocal tradition—"I go to your kid's wedding, you go to my kid's"—that would be hard to break. If you know your parents have attended events thrown for another couple's children and not inviting those people to your wedding would cause a strain, your best bet is to let your parents send the invitation.
Are your parents really close to these people?
Even if you don't know much about your parents' friends, they may know a lot about you. It's not hard to imagine Mom and Dad sharing your ups and downs with their close confidantes. You can think of these people more as your parents' guests rather than your own.
Do you need to remind them it's your wedding?
Your wedding is a big day for your parents too, but they shouldn't take over the guest list with their people if it means you have to seriously cut out some of yours. Since you can't book a venue without knowing if you want to invite 25 people or 125 people, talk to your parents about the guest list early on. If you feel strongly about not including people you've never met in your wedding, you've got to tell them upfront.