Creating a guest list can cause complete chaos. Whether it's your mom pushing you to invite all her neighbors or your fiance insisting to cut your coworkers from the list, you're bound to come across some angst in your guest list planning. But not to worry. There is hope. If you follow these top tips, you'll minimize the madness and whittle down your list to the best-case scenario.
Of course you're going to announce your engagement to close friends and family members, but because they're the first ones who'll be invited, they're safe territory. Beyond your immediate clan, don't personally call anyone else until you know the wedding's approximate size and scope, because the first thing people are likely to ask is "When is the wedding?" That way, you can set expectations when you finally announce your news: "We're so excited -- it'll be a tiny ceremony somewhere exotic," or "My parents are springing for a blowout with everyone under the sun, so start watching airfares now!" If people know from the start that they're not likely to be invited because it's a family-only or far-flung affair, they won't be miffed when they don't find a fancy envelope in their mailbox.
Divide Seats Equally
All of the immediate family with input should be given the same number of people to invite, regardless of who's paying. What that means is that if you're having 200 guests and you and your fiance take 100 of the invites, his family should get 50 of the remaining invites and your family should get the final 50. If her folks are divorced, then each of her parents split the 50 evenly. If things work out that smoothly for you, you're lucky, but sticking with that strategy gives you a bulletproof defense against accusations of favoritism. Of course, if one of you is an only child and the other comes from a family of 20, you can reevaluate how to divvy up the numbers. If people grumble, see the next strategy about standing up to bullies.
To minimize confusion, wait to request your parents and in-law's guest lists until you've given them their target number.
Don't Be Bullied By Parents and Soon-to-be In-laws
Set and stick to boundaries. This can be tricky if one set of parents is footing the bill and demands a greater slice of the guest list. But when it comes down to it, this is your event. Sometimes it's just a matter of increasing the size of the guest list, and the parent who goes over their number of invites can pay for the overflow. But often your site caps the guest count. That means if his mom wants to invite more people (say, all of her bridge partners), either your family or you two will have to invite fewer guests. Be resolute. Explain to his mom that even though she is generously paying for the fete, this is a celebration for everyone involved, and everyone must participate on an equal footing. It may not be easy or pleasant, but if you start to bend, you're in for a tidal wave of last-minute requests.