How to Finalize the Guest List with Your Parents

Discover strategies to cut down your invite list without hurting anyone's feelings.

How to Finalize the Guest List with Your Parents

Photo: Samuel Lippke Studios

That classic scene from Father of the Bride in which the Banks family discusses the merits of inviting each potential guest likely hits close to home for many brides. Your wedding is a momentous occasion in your parents' lives, too, and they'll want to invite their own friends and loved ones to join in the festivities. But if you don't know and love the guests your parents want to invite, it can be awkward telling them you'd rather not include them – especially if your parents are paying for some (or all) of the wedding.

Dora Manuel, owner of Viva Bella Events, admits that the guest list does require delicate negotiation. She suggests dividing the list into thirds – for the bride's parents, groom's parents, and bride and groom's list of friends. "When families are given a firm number, they will do their own pruning and cut down on extraneous invitees," Manuel says. Parents should be able to invite long-time friends and close business associates, but you shouldn't feel guilty about leaving out extended family members you haven't seen or heard from in years. And remember: parents may have made new friends or met new business partners after the bride or groom moved out of the house.

If someone has been added to the list that you'd like to eliminate, don't be afraid to tell your parents why, Manuel advises. "Is it simply that you don't know them, or is it a teenage cousin who lacked decorum at the last family event you attended?" she says. Ultimately, the guest list shouldn't hinge on who's paying for the wedding. However, both parties should be sensitive to each other and calmly discuss their points of view.

"These issues need to be carefully sorted out, but ultimately, you don't want to fret over who was and wasn't invited during your wedding celebration," Manuel notes. "Feel confident in who you decide to invite, so you, your groom, and your families can relax and enjoy your big day."

Need help trimming your list? Discover how to cut guests without guilt. Once you've finalized your invite list, it's time to send the invitations! Follow these guidelines for perfect invitation wording and timing. 

Opening photo by Davide DePas