Drama Llama: Guest List Issues

I know that I am not alone in the fact that one of the major sources of controversy for us was our Guest List. Our original goal was an invite list of 150 people. Spoiler alert, this is not the final number we ended up with. Now I know that 150 people is not a small wedding, by any means, but it isn’t the largest number either. Mr. Fenway and I thought this would be a good goal to shoot for based on our initial lists of family and friends.

Let me start off by saying that I have a fairly large family, my Dad was one of 6 children and his side of the family has always been close to us. I mean that quite literally, as the initial farm property of my grandparents (who had adjoining farms which were combined when they married) was split up between each of the children. Many of the “kids” (aka my aunts and uncles and my parents) built/used homes on the property so growing up we had a plethora of aunts, uncles and cousins within about a 1 mile area.

Our first controversial issue was dealing with the drama in this side of the family. As you can imagine, living so close together could be both a blessing and a curse. When everyone gets along, it’s nice to have a great support system around, but when there are “disputes,” it can get ugly fast. My grandmother (Dad’s mom) was always the glue that held this family together, and everyone could put aside their differences and rally around her (at least for appearance sake), and when she passed away (3 years ago already- how fast time flies), things started to fall apart. There were a lot of arguments about the trust (which was not dissolved upon her death) and favored children and all sorts of family drama that I won’t get into here. Suffice it to say that it caused a big blowout and the consequences are still being felt today. So the question was, do we invite the extended family members that were no longer speaking to my immediate family to the wedding or not. It was a tough decision, and there were a lot of debates and I am sure that not everyone was happy with our decision, but we ultimately decided to include all of the extended family, whether they were part of the “feud” or not.

In other words, we did not follow the very helpful chart above. Though it does seem like this way of thinking would make sense.

I also have a large number of people who are “family,” but not by blood. These are my mother’s college friends and their children, who I grew up with and am closer to than many of my actual blood-related family members. There was no question that these people who were so instrumental in my childhood (and today) were “must haves”- no debate or drama about that.

So my family list was quite large, but my friends list was not nearly as large as Mr. Fenway’s. I have a few close friends that I wanted to invite, but the majority of my list was family. Mr. Fenway was the opposite. He was (is? not sure what the terminology on that is ) a member of a fraternity and had a lot of close friends (brothers I guess? I obviously am not at ease with a lot of the “frat” lingo) that he considered “must haves.”

Other issues emerged when we began getting the list of invites from Mr. Fenway’s family. He has a number of cousins, aunts and uncles that he does not know. After several discussions of who should and should not get invited (like, should third cousin’s children be included? And why shouldn’t they), we finally narrowed down a list of must have family members from his side as well (again, totally did not follow the chart above- but these invites were important to Mr. Fenway’s family so they were important to us because of that). This proved more difficult than it might have been because Mr. Fenway’s immediate family was worried about offending people by not inviting them, or their kids and grandkids, which is certainly understandable but was a bit frustrating when we were trying to limit our guests. We used different criteria for Mr. Fenway’s family then for mine. For example, my family invites included all Aunts and Uncles, and first cousins only (with exceptions for second cousins when they were younger and from out of the New England area or in the wedding – the total of the exception was 6 kids). Mr. Fenway’s family invites included all Aunts and Uncles, all first cousins, most second cousins and their children (if they still lived at home and were under the age of 21). It all get’s very complicated when you try to spell it out.

So even though we both tried to keep to our respective 75 person limit, it was really incredibly difficult. And ultimately we both went over. Our final invite list (used to send save the dates) tops out at 181 people. But these people are the ones who matter most to us or our families, and we will be happy to celebrate with as many of them as possible on the day of our wedding.

Did you have any guest list drama? Did you have separate “rules” for attendance on your side vs. your partner’s?

This entry was posted in Wedding.

2 comments on “Drama Llama: Guest List Issues

  1. Susan says:

    Ah….the guest list! When Marc and I were getting married it was quite the drama. We wanted a small, intimate gathering of our immedaite families and our very dear friends. His mother wanted to invite everyone she ever knew and all relatives including great aunts and uncles. I kept all the invitations in my possession. And it came to the point when I refused my future mother-law (who I loved dearly- really) any additional invites. She actually invited her hairdresser to my wedding! On the weekends we would struggle over these choices. One Friday night we had gone out to dinner and then Marc asked “what should we do now?” Jokingly I replied “let’s go over the guest list”. We did. Which led to a big fight . We stopped talking about the guest list after that.

    Good luck Erin and Scott. This is probobaly the hardest part of planning your wedding. But on October 19th it will all be worth it! Marc ‘n’ Sue xxoo

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