Resolving Wedding Guest List Disagreements

Finalizing a guest list is one of the biggest sources of wedding-related arguments (probably second only to agreeing on finances)!
Working with as many brides and grooms-to-be as we do, we’ve heard it all. So, if you and your fiancé are fighting over who to invite, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled some common sticking points that we’ve seen couples wrestle with during the planning stage, as well as some tips for compromising.

These are the most controversial issues when it comes to your guest list:

  • An Appropriate Number

How many is too many guests? This question may seem straight-forward, especially because many couples are limited by their choice of venue. However, this question gets more complicated when you consider the fact that not everyone you invite will be able to attend. So, if you’d like to target 100 guests, does that mean you should only invite 100 people in case they all RSVP yes, or does that mean you can actually invite 120 people? This gets complicated when couples feel obligated to invite family members and acquaintances that they don’t really want to come but don’t want to run the risk of offending.

Even couples that don’t have to worry about exceeding their venue’s capacity still struggle with this question when each person has a different vision of what the wedding should look like. Sometimes one person wants a smaller wedding while the other wants a big shindig. (And, let’s be honest, the more people you invite, the more gifts you’ll receive even if they don’t all attend!)

The best way to deal with this contentious issue to be honest about your desires while still respecting the fact that the wedding should be what both people want. If one person wants a 500-person wedding and the other would prefer a small ceremony with just close friends and parents, neither one will be happy giving in to the desires of the other. Instead, aim to meet somewhere in the middle. Does the person that wants the big wedding really need to invite that many guests? Probably not. Can the person that wants the small wedding still be happy with some extended family and a wider circle of friends? Probably.

Don’t focus on the number itself as much as the actual people you’re inviting and then come to an agreement about who you really want there.

  • Balance

Fans of the classic TV show Friends will remember the episode where Chandler realizes that their wedding guest list is almost entirely made up of Monica’s family. It upsets him that he’s not going to be equally represented and begins trying to recruit her guests to his side so that it’s more balanced.

While this may seem silly in principle, it’s a common complaint (especially if the guest list is capped by the venue). While there really isn’t a good solution to balance the guest list if one person has more family or friends than the other, you can work on shifting focus away from the imbalance. Typically, the person who has fewer guests attending worries that he/she will have less of a say in the wedding as a result. To overcome this concern, ensure that both people get their say in the planning process. Be willing to compromise on things like colors, time of day, cake flavors, food and drink choices, favors, centerpieces, and so on to let your fiancé know that the wedding truly represents both of you.

  • Inviting Exes

Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends that have become close family friends pose a problem because sometimes their presence makes the groom or bride-to-be feel uncomfortable. This gets complicated when other guests expect to see this person in attendance or the ex might be hurt by not being invited.

The only compromise here is to exclude exes from the guest list if there’s any possibility that it will upset the bride or groom-to-be because it’s too special of a day to have it tainted by awkwardness or feelings of jealousy.

  • Allowing Kids

Whether or not to allow children at your wedding is sometimes dictated by the time of day and other times is just a result of personal preference. If both people agree on this issue, that’s great! However, sometimes there’s disagreement because couples understand that certain guests will only attend if their kids are welcome as well. This is where it gets dicey.

Unfortunately, there’s not really much middle-ground here – either kids are allowed, or they aren’t. Some couples may choose to have children at the ceremony but not the reception but typically the rules for one apply to both. If you don’t want to restrict attendance too much, you can set an age requirement (like ages 10+ only).

Remember, even couples that love kids may choose to have an adults-only wedding. Not allowing little ones at your wedding doesn’t make any sort of statement about how you feel about kids in general, it’s just a decision to be made for your celebration.

Some people decide it’s best to have an adults-only celebration if the cost to include children is too high or the setting isn’t appropriate for kids. Whatever you choose, make your preferences clear in the wedding invitation or speak to any couples with kids individually to explain your expectations.

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