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Pennsylvania-Pittsburgh

Guest list etiquette

So, I am hitting my first snafu with my wedding.  Its minor, but have read conflicting reports in different books, so wanted to see where everyone else netted out on this topic.

For our wedding, we both initially included only our aunts, uncles, first cousins, grandparents, immediate family, and our parents close friends. 

Because we are having the wedding in Pittsburgh where my family is, there are additional second cousins/extended family that could potentially make it onto the guest list (and my mom asked me to include).  However, this will cause our invites to go over our threshold.  In addition, the invites on my family size will be much higher - and I feel that the "right" thing to do is extend "second cousins and beyond" to his family as well - not only does my side get more invites, they also get to break out of the immediate family rule. 

This places us in an awkward position - our family invites will cause us to cut some of our friends out of the wedding.  And although family is important, most of the second cousins I haven't seen in at least 10-15 years due to my being across the country (and FI has never met).  But I think that my parents feel that if we have the wedding in Pittsburgh, and DON'T invite them, it will be a snub.  I don't disagree, just trying to figure out how to make this work.

- Did you and your FI use equal family status for invites (for example, only immediate famiily)?
or
- Did you give both families equal number of invites (for example, 60 for each set of parents, 60 for the couple)?

Re: Guest list etiquette

  • edited December 2011
    How many people can your site hold? Don't invite more than that no matter what, obviously.

    How many people did you budget for? Don't invite more than that, no matter what. And remember that the number of invitees has to include bridal party as well, for example.

    Who is paying? In my eyes, that also helps determine the allotment of the invites.

    How many people do you two personally want? Do you have a number in mind? For example, we did NOT want to hit the 200 mark; it was just too big for us.

    If you two are paying, divvy the invites up any way you want.

    Also, something to keep in mind is that people are often actually relieved not to be invited to a wedding, especially for someone they don't know well. So it is a-okay to make cuts.
  • edited December 2011
    Is your FI going to be upset if his extended family isn't invited? If he isn't close with them and/or they are far away, it might not even be an issue.

    We didn't allocate a certain number for each side, but we also were able to "overinvite" by quite a bit since we knew only about 50% were going to come since most of our friends (and some family) are scattered across the country. Plus neither of us has a big family, so we were able to invite all family that we wanted and then just had to decide which friends to include.
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  • edited December 2011
    When we had our wedding in Pgh, it also included a lot of OOT guests, as we live in Philly and his whole side is from out here. When we spoke to ILs, they purposely limited their guest list because they didn't want to invite second and third cousins who might feel obligated to travel to Pgh.  So, I would say definitely speak to your FILs about what they would prefer. 

    I do admit that this skewed the guest list, with more people being invited from my side than his, but it was fine and made sense in our situation.

     Because DH and I were paying for a lot of the wedding ourselves, we also placed a limit on my parents' guest list (the vast majority of which was from Pgh).  If I hadn't seen the people in many years, or could not identify them if they were placed in a line-up, I was not inviting them.  We only wanted people that would truly be celebrating with us, and not those coming out of "family obligations."

    We ended up with 120 guests (out of almost 260 invited) and most of our OOT family that wasn't closer than first cousins did not travel to Pgh.
  • edited December 2011

    Kwynn brings up some excellent questions, esp. in regards to who is paying. If it's just you and FI, make sure you invite the people you really want there. So if that means friends over extended family, so be it. Just my initial thought!

  • edited December 2011
    Personally, I don't think it is a snub to not invite someone you haven't seen in 10-15 years. Regardless of where the wedding is. I don't think location of the wedding should dictate who you invite.
    Invite the same people you would invite if the wedding was in Venus.

    We gave our parents a limit of invitations and they could do with them what they wished.
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  • LaFemmeRousseLaFemmeRousse member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We allotted a certain number of guest list spots to each parent, and they could do whatever they wanted with them, with the exception that no children are to be invited unless they were my or FI's first cousins.  Both our sets of parents are divorced, so it ended up being 50 people per parent to invite, and we invited 100 between the two of us. 

    My dad only really wanted to invite 35 close friends and family members we see, so he gave the rest of his spots to my mom, who ended up inviting some second cousins and more OOT guests.  FMIL has a large famly and used most of her spots for those people.  FFIL... to be honest, FI and I aren't even sure who some of the names on his list are :)

    I don't think you should feel compelled to invite distant family members who you haven't seen in 10-15 years, and I can't imagine anyone in that situation would feel snubbed not to be invited.  I guess the exception here is if you invite, say, 2 of your second cousins on your mom's side but not the other 3 or whatever.
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  • LaFemmeRousseLaFemmeRousse member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    And I should add- my parents are paying for the whole wedding, but we didn't want to give them more people on the guest list than the FILs to avoid any potential for bad blood, especially because FI's side of the family is bigger.
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  • missyt180missyt180 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Thanks lovely ladies, you always have such rational advice!

    Our wedding is for 160 total.  FI and I are paying approximately half (with most of this being "his" money), with my parents paying the other half.

    My family and parents friends would be 42 with aunts/uncles/first cousins, his side 52.  The additional family from my side would be 32, bringing "my" total to 74.  The only people that are coming from Pittsburgh are my family - I don't have friends from HS that I am inviting, so everyone else would be OOT guests.  We would then only get 34 guests (assuming all family comes).

    I do think that no matter what, because we decided to have the wedding in Pittsburgh unless I want to upset my mom, I will have to include everyone.

    But to give full disclosure - I think it comes down to my panicking that the wedding reception will consist of FI and I sitting at our table with an endless parade of me introducing him to my family.  I know that there will be a lot of this anyway.  But I don't want it to feel like I've brought him to my family reunion.  Or worse, not even recognizing the majority of the people b/c I haven't seen them in 12 years, and then only sporadically.  And I feel like a bad person for wanting my friends there over my extended family.
  • missyt180missyt180 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Hmm, I think that my plan is to speak with my dad to get a handle on how important this is.

    When I spoke to my mom it seemed she thought each side should get the same amount of invites - so perhaps I cap it at 52 per family, and FI and I get 56.  She also was a bit surprised/almost on the verge of getting upset about trimming the family just due to "rank" (first cousin/second cousin) so this will at least make it seem more "fair".
  • edited December 2011
    In your situation, it is basically 50% your parents' moeny and 50% your and FI's money, with most of it being FI's money.

    Therefore, I think you have it pretty easy to cut up the guest list. Now, the question is, do you want to be numbers fair or proportionally fair?

    Numbers fair is 160 guests divided this way:
    40 to Bride's Parents
    40 to Groom's Parents
    40 to You
    40 to Him

    Each person can then decide what they will do with their numbers. So say you only want to invite 10 friends, you could "donate" the rest to your mom for her extended family. Or you could keep them.

    Proportionally fair would be to look at the size of the families and divide up the guest list that way. Ignore the location of the people and make a calculation at first cousins only.

    You have 100 family members.
    FI has 50 family members.
    You get 50% more invites than him. So mathemtically, he gets 53 , you get approximately 107 of the invites.

    That way, each person only has to cut down their guest list by a percentage, not a total number. (If you do the direct number way, everyone getting 40 people each, someone with a large family has to cut more friends because of family; this is more proportional).

    You don't have to include everyone even if that is what your mom wants. It is about what you two want.

    You obviously want some friends there, and 34 friends is only really 17 couples, so 17 friends plus dates total.

    In my opinion, taking it to second cousins is way too far. We stopped at first cousins, the people I actually know. But every family is different.
  • edited December 2011
    FWIW, we also stopped at second cousins - we split the sides evenly - but not based on who invited, but how they were related.  Each of us (DH's rents, my rents, and us) paid for 1/3 of the wedding, so we were evenly split there.  ILs were a little mad certain 2nd cousins and great uncles from hunting camp were not invited, but since the wedding, have not heard any complaints about the guest list, so it was only a few grumbles for a few months.

    Not to be a b!tch, but you get to pick your friends, andnot your family.  Ask yourself, if this person wasn't family, would I ever hang out with them/befriend them?  It was more important to us that people that want to celebrate with us were there, then someone who was just tagging along for a free night because they were somehow related to us somewhere.  If we hadn;'t met them, or couldn't picture them, they didn't get to come to the most important day in our life.

    Also, btw, our guest list was 117 attending, with 134 rsvping yes, and 160 being invited. 
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