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Picking the Right Wedding Guest

Of all the wedding-related fights you might have, the biggest is often over who’s invited. You want to invite your friends and family, your spouse wants to invite their own friends and family, and both set of parents might have people they want to invite, too. That’s why we spoke with Randi Barksdale of Jet Set Planning about splitting up the guest list amongst the key players. Here, she suggested a few ideas to make this part of wedding planning a little bit easier.

An Even Split

If everyone is contributing equally, or if you and your future husband or wife are footing the entire bill, everyone should be allowed to invite roughly the same number of guests—about a third of the total guest count each. Want more control over the guests? Then the couple should get about half of the guest list, and then the bride and groom’s families each get to invite a quarter of the total number. So, if you’re able to invite 200 guests, the bride and groom should choose 100 attendees, and their parents each get 50.

An Uneven Split

It sounds counterintuitive, but there’s no rule that says you even have to divide the guest list equally. Ask both set of parents for the ideal guest list, and then discuss it as a couple. Maybe your parents only have 35 people they feel strongly about inviting, but his parents have 50. If that works for your budget, then send the invites. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a power struggle. “Focus on making happy memories no matter who is invited, and put all differences aside on any wedding festivities,” says Barksdale. In short: Dividing your guest list should not put a damper on your wedding day.

Based on Who’s Paying

In the event that your parents are paying for the entire wedding, they should have slightly more influence over the guest list. Same goes if it’s the groom’s parents that are signing the big-day checks. That doesn’t mean they get to take over, though, says Barksdale. “The parents need to remember that they have had their wedding, and this is solely up to the couple getting married. This should be a happy time and parents need to realize this,” she says.

Make Space for Those You Actually Know

As much as you hate to give up any of the precious spots on your dedicated list, the bride and groom should make room for guests they know personally, too. But if your parent’s want to invite someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in years—say, your childhood neighbors—you have the right to veto. “If you haven’t spoken to them face-to-face in the last two years don’t invite them. This rule excludes family of course,” advises Barksdale. “It’s my rule of thumb that I share with all the couples I work with.

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