It's a simple fact: people cost money, and venues hold only a certain amount of people. Combine the money-space issue with parental input, and the scene is set for an explosive engagement. Tread carefully -- the field is strewn with landmines. Calling a long-forgotten high school friend may suddenly turn into an epic battle over whether that person makes the cut. Instead, evaluate, negotiate, compromise, and be realistic.
A Tale of Two Lists
Generate a fantasy guest list. Don't censor yourself. Instead, include every single person you'd like to invite. Then come back down to earth. Your target number will be determined by how many people the venue can hold and what your budget will allow. People will be cut-it's unavoidable. So to help make decisions, separate out the guests who must attend, like your favorite aunt or your fiance's godfather. This is your A list. Anyone not essential (no, we don't mean people you don't like, but rather colleagues you might be able to skip) should be added to the B list. These are people you would enjoy having at your wedding but who cannot be extended an offer in the first round.
You should invite approximately 10 percent more guests than your target number, since between 10 and 20 percent of those invited will decline. If more people decline than you originally anticipated, start inviting from the B list. If it's a week before your wedding and you guaranteed, say, 200 guests and only 192 are showing up, it's okay to call and personally ask people to attend. Apologize for the short notice and extend a heartfelt verbal invite.
You'll both need to reflect on which of your acquaintances is important enough to witness your wedding.
Meet the Parents' Friends
Just who is Sylvia Klein and why is she invited to your wedding? You'll be asking yourself many of these questions. Traditionally the bride's parents paid for the wedding, giving them the upper hand in extending invitations. Now, many couples pay for their own weddings, but they're still subject to parental input on who gets invited.
You need to be respectful of your parents and future in-laws; realize they are as excited about the wedding as you are. They want to share their happiness with good friends, and you need to honor their wishes-or at least some of their wishes. One possible plan: If the two of you are footing most of the bill, give each set of parents a certain number of people they can invite.
Some couples on a budget let parents invite as many guests as they want-within the space's capacity, of course-but ask that they pay for those guests.