Especially a wedding.
Usually you are combining two families with their own ideas about who should get to be there. So that you know other people have the same struggles as you, here is a little story about how I handled it 6 years ago.
My family is tiny, I mean really tiny. I am the only child in the family, no cousins, no siblings, just me. Grand total at the time of my wedding: 12 including me. My husband (fiance at the time) is quite the opposite, his family is HUGE. So when we were planning the wedding and the first list of people I got from my future mother in-law had 378 people on it, to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Not to mention, my family was, according to tradition, footing the bill.
I fumbled around with the list and finally asked my fiance to take a look. We sat down and my first question was this, "Do you know these people????" He did. When willing it to disappear didn't work, I put it in the back of my planning binder, and we shelved the conversation.
Once we had picked our location for both the wedding and the reception, I now had a valid excuse for making the list WAY smaller. The historic church we chose only sat 175 people. Whew.
For us, the location won out over the quantity of people attending. I mean seriously, how romantic is this church:
Anyway, I digress :) Fiance and I sat down and looked at the 175 seats that were available and decided to break up the invites this way, 75 for his family, 50 for my family, and 50 of our friends. This included our bridal party and us.
Now came the part I was dreading. How do I tell my future MIL that I needed her list to be cut from 378 to 75 people?!? Ummmmm.... I decided to do it by giving her a suggestion on how to cut it down. Since I am a spreadsheet and organization junkie, I emailed her a pre-made spreadsheet with a few examples plugged in, then asked her to apply this method to the list she originally sent me.
Now people were placed into categories so that my fiance and I could see how important their attendance was to his parents. The RELATION tab also really helped me learn how people were related before the awkward first meeting at the wedding. Applying this method got us down to 85 people on his side. A bit more than I was hoping, but WAY better than I expected. Luckily his mom found the categories a really easy to use method (and even used it years later for my sister in-laws wedding).
After the invites were stamped and mailed we ended up inviting 190. Due to bad weather around 150 people showed the day of the wedding. However, don't forget, EVERYONE you invite might just show up. It happened to my sister in law... 355 invited and 353 showed. Madness I tell you!
From my personal experience with invite crisis, here are some tips:
- Decide which is more important: your location or the number of people you invite
- Budget, Budget, Budget!!! Don't break your budget to fit in 3 extra people you met in the bookstore.
- Make your fiance get involved in the invite process. It is their wedding as well, and you hate to cut someone that could mean a lot to your significant other.
- Invite a few extras, but only if you can fit them and pay for them. They might just surprise you and show up!
- Make a spreadsheet (or whatever your preferred method is) and keep it organized. Know who you are inviting!!
- Don't be afraid to say no, or cut it down. It is your wedding, the list can be as long or short as you want.
- If all else fails, ask for help!! Whether it be from a 3rd party source (ahem like an amazing wedding planning team) or a friend.