Dear Bitchless Bride: My Wedding Guest List Is Spiraling out of Control

Thanks to my fiancé’s parents, who aren't offering a penny.

Welcome to Dear Bitchless Bride, a series in which wedding planner Deborah DeFrancesco—the founder of Bitchless Bride the Podcast + Blog—offers uncensored advice on your most complicated wedding-planning woes. Have a question for Deborah? Email

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Dear Bitchless Bride,

My parents have generously offered to pay for our wedding, and I am over the moon because we didn’t think we were going have any monetary help from either of our parents. But there are a few strings attached. One stipulation is that we pay close attention to who we invite due to the carefully crafted budget. I’m okay with that because I know my folks don’t have a ton of money, and they don’t want to waste it on people who shouldn’t make the A-list. But my fiancé’s parents want to invite a bazillion guests and aren’t offering a penny. How do I squash this and keep the peace with all parties?


Bride on a Budget

Dear Bride on a Budget,

The most difficult part of wedding planning always comes down to family and money. Or money and family. No matter how hard you try, it’s like mixing oil and vinegar and expecting them not to separate; it’s just not possible. The only way to get oil and vinegar to blend is to shake the sh*t out of it. So, start shaking. Bridey, since your parents are paying for the wedding, it’s not uncommon for them to attach some strings, and it’s very basic: A bigger guest list equates to a bigger budget. PERIOD. The more guests you invite, the more money you spend. So, it is imperative that you speak up… to your fiancé and his parents.

I would love to tell you to be perfectly blunt with your future in-laws and say something like, “F*ck you, pay me. You want twice-removed cousin Margaret on the list? Great! That’ll be $150.” But, because I want you to have a delightful relationship with your future in-laws, we’ll need to tone it down a bit. Start with your sig other. Frankly, I’d put him in charge of managing his parents so that you don’t have to be the bad guy. Have him discuss the parameters of the budget with them and provide an agreed-upon number of guests they can invite. If they want to add more guests, tell them that they are financially responsible for anything over their allotment. That will either minimize their list or push them to pay up. Additionally, I want to remind you that this is YOUR wedding: Having a bunch of strangers or estranged family members in attendance is probably not what you and your sig other envisioned. Right?

Bridey, there’s no doubt that this is difficult. Conversations about money are tough, and emotions are heightened right now. That said, please don’t let the guest list conversation(s) turn into something that will suck the joy out of wedding planning and your future relationships. Keep your head on straight, and think about your wedding day and who you want to share it with. Then express your feelings to your sig other and both sets of parents. Remember to be polite, be strong, and hold your ground. You got this!

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