Some people may think that an election is the most political things can possibly get. But I disagree: meet the politics of navigating your guest list. And while its true, it is your big day, things get a but murky when mom and dad have some invites they would like to send, and they are also footing the bill.
I would first suggest having a talk with each set of parents to understand if they are gifting you money for your wedding, or if there are strings attached.
When making your list, I suggest making a common excel document, and sending a blank one to you, your fiancé, your parents and your fiancé’s parents. There should be an option for “Code” (I’ll get to that in a second!), “Name”, “Address” and “Email Address”. At this point in the game, the address and email addresses don’t really matter as being on this list does not mean they are actually invited.
In the code section put a number:
1 – Close family (Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents)
2- Family (Mom’s cousins, Grandparents siblings, cousin’s kids, etc)
3- Close friends of the bride and groom
4- Close friends of the bride’s parents
5- Close friends of the groom’s parents
6- People who invited you to their wedding
7- People it would be nice to invite
Once you get people’s lists back, copy and paste them into one document and then sort the “Code” tab by number. Loosely this will give you a ranking of who to invite (though 4 and 5 are weighted equally). Don’t worry about the bridal party, and bride and groom since they will be at the head table.
Start be deleting any possible duplicates. Next, count down to the number of seats you can afford. Let’s say that you can afford to have 100 guests at your wedding. If the 100th spot is somewhere in the “Nice to invite” section, then you are golden.
But what do you do when you run out of spots? I would start be looking at the extended family section, and talk to your respective families about removing family that you don’t actually know. My mom acted a bit hurt when I told her that I didn’t want to invite her cousin’s daughter. But I have never actually met this girl, and I can’t imagine she would be hurt by not being invited. My mom’s cousin? Sure. But not her kid.
Next I would look at who invited you to their wedding. Are you still close? Were you even that close when they invited you? If you don’t mind possibly burning a bridge, they would be good candidates to remove. Especially if they did not otherwise make it on to the “close friend” list.
When looking at your parent’s close friends. See if you can offer each set their own table. Once that table fills up they are out of seats. This an be harder if they are footing a significant chunk of the bill, but they should understand that it is your day. Not theirs. While I am sure that these people would be happy to attend your wedding, if you don’t have much of a relationship with them then nobody is really missing out.
Cutting down the list takes compromise on everybody’s part. It is important that you stick to your budget, because it is not worth starting your new married life with a wedding you can’t afford in order to make other people happy. Have the people you want there, and enjoy your party!