Wedding Etiquette Forum

Different Size Families - Guest List of Horrors

ambercgeambercge member
10 Comments
edited July 2014 in Wedding Etiquette Forum

So I've tried looking around the internet for information on this and it's been useless. But here's what's going on and I need help so that my mother and FMIL don't tear each other to shreds.

I'm the bride. I come from a family of divorces. This means that I have 5 parental figures, 8 siblings, 13 living grandparents, 30 aunts and uncles, and well over 60 first-cousins. My fiance has none of this. 2 parents, 2 siblings, 1 grandparent. When we began our guest list preparations my initial list was over two hundred and his was around thirty. This included anyone we could think of that we would want to invite. It was before we brought our parents into it. Then his mother supplied us with a list of an additional 40 some guests and my mother gave me another 50.

In the end my BARE MINIMUM guest list (only family up to first-cousins, no friends included) was over 150 and his was at 80. His 80 included 30 "and guests" for singles. None of my guests were granted these.

I was frustrated because our venue could only hold 250. And that's a cramped 250.

Given, we eventually found a new venue.

But the problem comes to the mothers. My mother wants to form the guest list the traditional way. Both parties include parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins on the list. Then, whatever remains of capacity is split between the two parties for other invites. So I'd have 150 to his 50 and we'd split the remaining 50 guests with each list, giving 25 "extra" spots. My parents were willing to pay more towards the reception, understanding that I come from a larger family.

His mother wants to split it 50/50 from the start, limiting me to 125 guests and him to 125 guests. I understand this logic from her point of view, but am I being a Bridezilla for being upset that this means some of my first cousins won't be invited while she's inviting Joe-Schmoe that my fiance has never met (like his step-dad's business partners from across the country), plus his STRANGER guest that even SHE won't know?

Our venue now is bigger, so it isn't as BIG of a deal, but it's still coming up at EVERY meeting. I'm just trying to figure out a decent way to work this out, but I also want to know what other people, removed from the situation see. At the start I could see it from both points of view and I was doing everything I could to trim my list, but when I got her final copy of guests which included a dozen people she didn't even know last names for, I kind of snapped.

She tries to excuse it all away with "well they won't even come, but they'll give you a big check!" and it's like, "Great, but this is my wedding and I'd rather have my family there over a check from some stranger. It's not about the money, it's about sharing the most important day of my life with the people who MATTER.

«13

Re: Different Size Families - Guest List of Horrors

  • This will be tough if they are contributing to the wedding. Is there any way you could pay for it yourselves or have the parents help out in other ways, like rehearsal dinner? My fi and I our paying for our wedding ourselves so we never had to tell either side how many guests the other side has. (When they asked I told them I didn't remember the number). Our only rule for the parents was to keep it to your closest friends and family (ex. people you would have over for dinner). They were pretty good about it although my future inlaws gave me an A and B list and I told them that we wouldn't be looking at the B list because we are only inviting closest friends and family and they were ok with it.
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    ambercge said:

    So I've tried looking around the internet for information on this and it's been useless. But here's what's going on and I need help so that my mother and FMIL don't tear each other to shreds.

    I'm the bride. I come from a family of divorces. This means that I have 5 parental figures, 8 siblings, 13 living grandparents, 30 aunts and uncles, and well over 60 first-cousins. My fiance has none of this. 2 parents, 2 siblings, 1 grandparent. When we began our guest list preparations my initial list was over two hundred and his was around thirty. This included anyone we could think of that we would want to invite. It was before we brought our parents into it. Then his mother supplied us with a list of an additional 40 some guests and my mother gave me another 50.

    In the end my BARE MINIMUM guest list (only family up to first-cousins, no friends included) was over 150 and his was at 80. His 80 included 30 "and guests" for singles. None of my guests were granted these.

    I was frustrated because our venue could only hold 250. And that's a cramped 250.

    Given, we eventually found a new venue.

    But the problem comes to the mothers. My mother wants to form the guest list the traditional way. Both parties include parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins on the list. Then, whatever remains of capacity is split between the two parties for other invites. So I'd have 150 to his 50 and we'd split the remaining 50 guests with each list, giving 25 "extra" spots. My parents were willing to pay more towards the reception, understanding that I come from a larger family.

    His mother wants to split it 50/50 from the start, limiting me to 125 guests and him to 125 guests. I understand this logic from her point of view, but am I being a Bridezilla for being upset that this means some of my first cousins won't be invited while she's inviting Joe-Schmoe that my fiance has never met (like his step-dad's business partners from across the country), plus his STRANGER guest that even SHE won't know?

    Our venue now is bigger, so it isn't as BIG of a deal, but it's still coming up at EVERY meeting. I'm just trying to figure out a decent way to work this out, but I also want to know what other people, removed from the situation see. At the start I could see it from both points of view and I was doing everything I could to trim my list, but when I got her final copy of guests which included a dozen people she didn't even know last names for, I kind of snapped.

    She tries to excuse it all away with "well they won't even come, but they'll give you a big check!" and it's like, "Great, but this is my wedding and I'd rather have my family there over a check from some stranger. It's not about the money, it's about sharing the most important day of my life with the people who MATTER.

    Ditto Muppet on the "Who is paying" question.  Also, you did not mention your FI in this.  What does he want?  Does he care if the guest list is split 50/50?
  • They both gave us checks for X amount and are allowing us to do what we want with the money. They're fine with a large guest list, they just have different ideas on who should get how much of it.

    My FI sides with his mother that it SHOULD be 50/50. He was supportive as I tried to cut it, and is usually a very understanding person. I can't help it that I have 8 siblings to his 2. I can't help it that I have 13 grandparents to his 1. And he gets that.

    But for some reason he seems to think that his mother's stranger guests are more important than the friends I've had for the last 10 years. And it's not because he thinks my friends aren't important - it's because he thinks 50/50 is more fair.

    Kinda like the shinest of two turds situations. He thinks 50/50 makes more sense. He hates that I'm getting shafted in the meantime, but he's a very "just" and logical sort of person and won't adjust his views just because there's emotion attached to them.
    TeddiD34
  • Need to know who is paying before answering.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • And no, there's no way I can pay for a 300 person wedding. Neither party has threatened to withdraw money, they're just being obnoxiously irritating about it on both sides. My mom gets irritated that I'm being forced to trim off my friends in order to make room for my step-dad's aunts and uncles (who i'm closer to than I am to my biological father's sisters and brothers), while FMIL literally has over 40 "and Guest" on the list right now. Strangers who she has no idea who they are. And we're talking stranger guests for invited guests who she can't remember last names for.

    She's also given "and Guest" to the children of married couples as young as 16 years old.
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Is there enough room in the venue and/or money in the budget to invite everyone that both families want? If the list isn't getting split 50/50, who from your FI's side won't be on the invite list?
    photo composite_14153800476219.jpg
  • Ugh, sorry, I did use paragraphs. Darn you paragraph stealing TK!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • If the funding is 50/50, I have to agree (to a certain extent) that the guest list should be divided as such. However, it sounds like they're just filling space simply to fill space where they COULD (not required but could) say "you know, we haven't seen Joe Blow in 5 years and don't even know where he is at this point, do you want to fill that space?" Even though that'd be a civil way to do it, it sounds like they won't.

    My advice I to decline all offers to host and pay for stuff yourselves. That way you can make these decisions without 3rd and 4th parties. Or just elope... Honestly, if my family weren't going to be included anyway, why not elope?
    *********************************************************************************

    image
    ambercgePrettyGirlLost[Deleted User]
  • Are you going to have to make every future decision ensuring that the two families or two sides of things end up precisely "fair"? Because life doesn't work that way. You have two different families.

    Neither of your preferences should get steamrolled, but handing out even numbers to each side is a lazy compromise.

    I completely agree that even numbers to each side is lazy. And I feel like I'm not steamrolling their guest list. I'm not including any "and Guests" on my list. My mother and father didn't invite any work people or non-family like they did. But I feel like I'm the only one making compromises here and I don't know how to explain that to them.

    Maybe I can't? It's just frustrating since FMIL and I are usually so on-track with each other. I get along with her better than i do with my own mom. And yet here she is, thinking her "and Guests" deserve to be at the wedding more than my friends or family.
  • Are your parents / step-parents contributing more than his mom is? Or is that 50/50 as well?
    image



    KatieinBkln
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    First off, you do not need to invite every aunt/uncle/cousin you have. I mean, if you want to, that's great. But it is totally okay and not at all "expected" or against etiquette to limit those invites to the aunts/uncles/cousins you are the closest to. Like 10 cousins are around your age, you are close, and grew up together...but the other 50 you hardly know and have only met a few times. Cut those out. I'd even say the same thing about the grandparents. You don't need to invite the parents of your stepfather/stepmother, especially if you are not close to them or know them that well. I realize that is not quite what you asked, but just throwing in my two cents. As to your question, for me a lot hinges on if your FMIL is contributing anything. If she isn't, than she has ZERO say in who gets invites. Your FI needs to put his foot down with her and say, "Hell no, we are not inviting Guests 1,2, and 3. I don't know them/aren't close to them and I don't want them invited." If she is contributing toward the reception (not the rehearsal dinner), it gets a little trickier. Politely refuse to accept her contribution, if possible. Or you could phrase it to her...better yet your FI phrases it to her...just like you did here. Like, FI and I decided to invite parents, siblings, grandparents, etc...and regardless of who had what numbers after that...would divide the remaining invites in half. And that is what we are doing. I'm sorry we cannot invite your "neighbor's second cousin once removed best friend's sister" who will give us a Ming Vase for a wedding gift...we don't know them and don't want to invite them.
    This too...  I don't think I would send an invitation to a step-grandparent unless I had a close relationship with them.  I would probably eliminate step-cousins where possible as well, but each family dynamic is different.
    photo composite_14153800476219.jpg
    PrettyGirlLost
  • AprilH81 said:
    Is there enough room in the venue and/or money in the budget to invite everyone that both families want? If the list isn't getting split 50/50, who from your FI's side won't be on the invite list?
    Room isn't as big of a deal anymore because we switched venues. Money, however, is a different matter, almost 2/3 of our budget is being spent on food right now and this is after we switched to an off-season date on a Sunday.

    Nobody. They're inviting everyone they know including step-dad's business partners, mom's friends, kids of married couples and their high-school prom dates etc. Only people they haven't invited are their gardener and hair-dresser.
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    ambercge said:
    AprilH81 said:
    Is there enough room in the venue and/or money in the budget to invite everyone that both families want? If the list isn't getting split 50/50, who from your FI's side won't be on the invite list?
    Room isn't as big of a deal anymore because we switched venues. Money, however, is a different matter, almost 2/3 of our budget is being spent on food right now and this is after we switched to an off-season date on a Sunday.

    Nobody. They're inviting everyone they know including step-dad's business partners, mom's friends, kids of married couples and their high-school prom dates etc. Only people they haven't invited are their gardener and hair-dresser.

    ***STUCK IN THE BOX***

    Then if they aren't cutting people from their "share" of invites why do they care?  They have invited everyone they want to invite, it doesn't matter that your side has more, especially with a dramatic difference in the size of each family.

    Your FMIL doesn't have a leg to stand on in this argument unless there are people NOT getting invites for "their side" based on you having 60 cousins.
    photo composite_14153800476219.jpg
    ambercgePrettyGirlLost
  • First off, you do not need to invite every aunt/uncle/cousin you have. I mean, if you want to, that's great. But it is totally okay and not at all "expected" or against etiquette to limit those invites to the aunts/uncles/cousins you are the closest to. Like 10 cousins are around your age, you are close, and grew up together...but the other 50 you hardly know and have only met a few times. Cut those out. I'd even say the same thing about the grandparents. You don't need to invite the parents of your stepfather/stepmother, especially if you are not close to them or know them that well. I realize that is not quite what you asked, but just throwing in my two cents. As to your question, for me a lot hinges on if your FMIL is contributing anything. If she isn't, than she has ZERO say in who gets invites. Your FI needs to put his foot down with her and say, "Hell no, we are not inviting Guests 1,2, and 3. I don't know them/aren't close to them and I don't want them invited." If she is contributing toward the reception (not the rehearsal dinner), it gets a little trickier. Politely refuse to accept her contribution, if possible. Or you could phrase it to her...better yet your FI phrases it to her...just like you did here. Like, FI and I decided to invite parents, siblings, grandparents, etc...and regardless of who had what numbers after that...would divide the remaining invites in half. And that is what we are doing. I'm sorry we cannot invite your "neighbor's second cousin once removed best friend's sister" who will give us a Ming Vase for a wedding gift...we don't know them and don't want to invite them.
    I'm close to everyone in my family. My parents divorced young and I maintained a great relationship with both sides of the family. My parents both remarried before I was 5 and I grew up with those families as well. My father remarried a second time and I do NOT know her family, so they are not invited. But my ex-step-mom and I still meet up 2-3 times a year with her whole family. I've trimmed that list down to 7 people from over 30. I'm honestly doing what I can, but when you see some family 3 -5 times a year and don't invite them... you might say it's not necessary, but those holidays are going to be awful from here on out.

    I already got a mouthful from one cousin (who has since been cut) on my biological father's side who threw a fit when I expressed anxiety about the list. "Oh, so since nobody is paying for our side of the family (my biological father is not contributing to the wedding) you're just not going to invite us? Nice." <--- censored version.
  • I think a huge part of this comes down to the fact that I've been trying to please EVERYONE this whole time. We've been planning for 4 months and gone through so many venues, dates, and guest lists I can't even begin to explain. At one point I had to change my date simply because my FI's step-brother's cousin was getting married and they wanted that day. So FMIL called me up and said "how set are you on this day because they want it"... FMIL is filling up empty spaces because if I have 150 guests at close family range, she wants 150 guests no matter if she has to invite the mailman. She plans on matching me no matter what, which means I have to trim my list so that all of our money doesn't go into the reception and leave nothing for decorations, ceremony, etc. My family is the most important thing to me. The idea of eloping without them to share it with me literally makes me sick to my stomach. Just thinking about it. Not to be cliche, but I've dreamed about this day, we've been together for over 4 years, and I've never run into this sort of a wall about anything before. FI wants to be supportive but he's not going to butt heads with his mother and make the situation worse. Especially since he thinks it should be 50/50.
  • I would suggest splitting the guest list four ways. One quarter for each set of parents, and one quarter each for you and your FI. It doesn't have to be a quarter each, but either way I suggest giving the parents a set number to fill that doesn't add up to 100% of the guest list. Just make sure that each set of parents gets the same number of guests, and you get the same number as your FI. You should be able to keep some spaces available for your and your FI's friends. If you want to use some of your spaces for additional family members, that should be your call, and your call only.

    Since it sounds like you and your FI are also contributing to the wedding costs, you should absolutely get a say in the guest list. It's not fair for the parents to have complete control over the guest list when they're not the only ones paying.

    Wedding planning is full of hard decisions. If parents have contributed money and want to be involved in the planning process, they have to be willing to make hard decisions too. That includes limiting their guest lists, within reason.
    image



    ambercgePrettyGirlLostmorphemes
  • Maybe you should ask both sides to take out 10 people each that they feel are not as important as the rest.  Maybe when they start taking people off the list they will realize that they can't invite one person and not the other.  This will help you reason with them that please only invite the important people and not everyone.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    ambercge
  • theartistformerlyknownastheartistformerlyknownas peaced out. member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers First Anniversary
    ambercge said:
    I think a huge part of this comes down to the fact that I've been trying to please EVERYONE this whole time. We've been planning for 4 months and gone through so many venues, dates, and guest lists I can't even begin to explain. At one point I had to change my date simply because my FI's step-brother's cousin was getting married and they wanted that day. So FMIL called me up and said "how set are you on this day because they want it"... FMIL is filling up empty spaces because if I have 150 guests at close family range, she wants 150 guests no matter if she has to invite the mailman. She plans on matching me no matter what, which means I have to trim my list so that all of our money doesn't go into the reception and leave nothing for decorations, ceremony, etc. My family is the most important thing to me. The idea of eloping without them to share it with me literally makes me sick to my stomach. Just thinking about it. Not to be cliche, but I've dreamed about this day, we've been together for over 4 years, and I've never run into this sort of a wall about anything before. FI wants to be supportive but he's not going to butt heads with his mother and make the situation worse. Especially since he thinks it should be 50/50.
    First bolded - you need to let this go. You will be so much better off, I PROMISE. This is an impossible goal. Everyone will not all be 100% happy about 100% of the decisions you make. 

    Second bolded - send him over here to read this - stop wanting, start doing. BE SUPPORTIVE. You two are a team now, and everything needs to start and end with you. If your parents really haven't tied strings to their monetary offers, then this is NOT their decision to make. Stop discussing the guest list with them. No need to butt heads, just say "we've got the guest list under control. Have you tried this bean dip? It's fantastic." "No but I really want to talk about Great Aunt Sally's neighbor Merle- -" "It's even better on peppers than on chips!" Repeat.

    image
    image
    ambercgePrettyGirlLostcowgirl8238beharrington
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    OK, I admit I skimmed because I'm on a short study break.  But it seems like the root of this problem is that your Fi is not on the same page as you.  You really need to sit down with him and explain how close you are with your family, and how would he feel if he had to cut his aunt to make room for your friend's guest?

    I'm on the opposite side of a very similar situation.  I have about 10 living family members all the way out to first cousins; Fi easily has 75.  Add in our friends, and it's a bigger wedding than I ever envisioned.  But I'd never dream of trying to split the guest list 50/50.  Families are messy.  Every family is different.  If Fi's 30 cousins are all equally important to him, yes, they should all be invited.

    It sort of rubs me the wrong way that your Fi doesn't seem to think your individual family members are as important as his, just because there are more of them to go around.  Can you try telling him you feel like he's disrespecting your family a little bit and it's hurting your feelings?
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    image

    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    ambercgesouthernbelle0915[Deleted User]cowgirl8238
  • First bolded - you need to let this go. You will be so much better off, I PROMISE. This is an impossible goal. Everyone will not all be 100% happy about 100% of the decisions you make. 

    Second bolded - send him over here to read this - stop wanting, start doing. BE SUPPORTIVE. You two are a team now, and everything needs to start and end with you. If your parents really haven't tied strings to their monetary offers, then this is NOT their decision to make. Stop discussing the guest list with them. No need to butt heads, just say "we've got the guest list under control. Have you tried this bean dip? It's fantastic." "No but I really want to talk about Great Aunt Sally's neighbor Merle- -" "It's even better on peppers than on chips!" Repeat.
    Well this is just genius. You know, I do have the whole list already, and it's up to me to bring it down to size, so maybe I'll do just that. Instead of telling MY family what to say to my cousins when they don't get an invite, I'll just send them out and tell HIS family what to say to the people who didn't make the cut.

    It just terrifies me because I have to live the rest of my life with his family. I can't stand the idea of them hating me over this mess. They already LOATHE my mother, and that's bad enough...
  • I don't think your FMIL is being at all fair. 50/50 does not work in this situation and applying this as "logic" results in strange outcomes, ie. someone no one has ever met is prioritized over a long-time friend or family member. How is that logical? You can't just apply a principle without thinking about the spirit of it. Your FMIL gets everyone she wants without the extra "and guests" anyway, so why insist on filling a spot with strangers? Just to get her money's worth?

    I would totally understand (and think it's fair)  if she wants to contribute less to the wedding because their side has fewer guests. This is the way I would go, but you are probably too far along in the process for this.

    PrettyGirlLosthuskypuppy14
  • OK, I admit I skimmed because I'm on a short study break.  But it seems like the root of this problem is that your Fi is not on the same page as you.  You really need to sit down with him and explain how close you are with your family, and how would he feel if he had to cut his aunt to make room for your friend's guest?

    I'm on the opposite side of a very similar situation.  I have about 10 living family members all the way out to first cousins; Fi easily has 75.  Add in our friends, and it's a bigger wedding than I ever envisioned.  But I'd never dream of trying to split the guest list 50/50.  Families are messy.  Every family is different.  If Fi's 30 cousins are all equally important to him, yes, they should all be invited.

    It sort of rubs me the wrong way that your Fi doesn't seem to think your individual family members are as important as his, just because there are more of them to go around.  Can you try telling him you feel like he's disrespecting your family a little bit and it's hurting your feelings?
    Trust me, I've certainly felt this way. I couldn't understand when we were talking in the car and I mentioned that I had to get one of my long-time friend's addresses (who moved away post-college and we keep up with daily fbook talks and texting), why he rolled his eyes at me. He said "Really, you're inviting Trish?" and I said ".... Do you even know Trish?" and he said "No, that's the point."

    ... Yet he's okay with his mother inviting a man (who he has never met) who is literally stuck in a hospital bed for the next 9 months after an accident, and when he declines, allowing his brother (who nobody in the family knows) the invite and an "and Guest" so he won't be lonely. No I'm not making this up. She really said this to me the other day.

    FI has almost nothing to do with the wedding planning because it's not his area, and I'm fine with that. But this is one of those times where we simply don't mesh on our ideas. No two people always agree, so I'm okay with it, but i wish I could make him understand.
  • mimivac said:

    I don't think your FMIL is being at all fair. 50/50 does not work in this situation and applying this as "logic" results in strange outcomes, ie. someone no one has ever met is prioritized over a long-time friend or family member. How is that logical? You can't just apply a principle without thinking about the spirit of it. Your FMIL gets everyone she wants without the extra "and guests" anyway, so why insist on filling a spot with strangers? Just to get her money's worth?

    I would totally understand (and think it's fair)  if she wants to contribute less to the wedding because their side has fewer guests. This is the way I would go, but you are probably too far along in the process for this.

    I've told her numerous times that she will NOT be expected to pay for my guests. My parents money will go towards their guests and hers will be prioritized elsewhere (like on the DJ she's demanding I get, or the wedding cake she just NEEDS me to have so she can have a picture of us cutting it - neither of which we planned on having during our original meetings where we were doing a backyard "fun time" wedding with milk and cookie bar and ipod playlists)

    Obviously the whole thing has been taken out of my hands at this point.
  •  
    If your parents really haven't tied strings to their monetary offers, then this is NOT their decision to make. Stop discussing the guest list with them. No need to butt heads, just say "we've got the guest list under control. Have you tried this bean dip? It's fantastic." "No but I really want to talk about Great Aunt Sally's neighbor Merle- -" "It's even better on peppers than on chips!" Repeat.
     
    SIB:
    Totally do this. Is FMIL going to notice and be outraged that the mailman and an ex-coworker who moved to Dubai 10 years ago aren't there? Those people probably weren't going to come anyway (as she herself said). If she is, then you can't cater to an unreasonable person. But you definitely need to get your FI on board with this ASAP.
    ambercge
This discussion has been closed.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards