In theory, my beloved and I both want a small inexpensive wedding, but it means so much to my dad, and even without inviting any cousins, nieces or nephews, I have 25 relatives on my side. The sad part is that I am not very close at all to the vast majority of them, whereas I do have about 20 close friends who really are family to me.
Sigh. If anyone has any creative words of wisdom for keeping the wedding guest list down and still keeping my dad happy, I'd be grateful to hear them.
I echo your sigh. The guest list can be quite a conundrum.
First and foremost, I think it's important to identify what your target number of guests is and why.
For example, if you want a smaller wedding in order to keep down the cost, then one solution would be to suggest that your dad cover the cost of the additional guests he is pushing to invite.
However, if you want a smaller wedding because you want to surround yourself with people who truly feel like home to you, then I think you need to stand your ground (for the most part). It's your moment of commitment and celebration; it's only logical that you should decide who is there for it.
I say "for the most part," because you do want to maintain good relations with your family, and a little compromise may be necessary. Maybe you invite your parents' siblings but make it clear that the buck stops there (i.e., none of their children, etc.).
Or perhaps you can encourage your family to host a "wedding reception" completely separate from your actual wedding and reception. That way, they could control the guest list, and you could have an additional opportunity to connect with people and celebrate, without compromising the kind of wedding you and your partner want.
As far as I can tell, there are no easy answers (isn't that often the case when it comes to family relationships?). Matt and I debated the guest list with our families. In the end, we were glad that we invited uncles, aunts, and cousins, even the ones we weren't as close to. It gave us a chance to strengthen those relationships.
But we were also glad that we stuck to our guns (e.g., we didn't let guests of guests invite guests, and we didn't invite family friends that we haven't spoken to in years).
It's a balance for sure. Everything in moderation.
Now I'll open it up to 2000dollarwedding kindred spirits. Any other words of advice?