As a newly engaged the first thing you probably did was discuss with everyone the budget for your wedding. After that, the next most important task is to devise a guest list. The guest list will impact all of the rest of your decisions like the size needed for the reception, the money you are able to allocate for décor and food and beverage.
Here are some guidelines. In general, ½ of the list is for the Bride and her Family and ½ of the list is for the Groom and his Family. Keep in mind that people mostly come in pairs. So you may have 5 couples but that means ten people.
You do not need to invite singles to bring a date. Etiquette is on your side on that. But if someone is married, engaged or living together it would be considered improper to invite only one of the “couple.”
Be very careful in inviting co-workers. The landscape of the workplace changes. Make a list of must have and maybes to help you bring the list into reality. If you do not want children then do not invite them. The envelope says who is invited. If someone asks if they can bring their family, tactfully say we don’t have room or something to that effect. The one exception would be children in the wedding party. Then implement this decision across the board.
Also keep in mind that distant relatives or those you rarely see do not need to be invited. Only you and your parents can make that judgment call.
If your parents are paying for all or a majority of the wedding, they certainly should have final say on who is on “their” list. It would be wrong for parents to insist they need so many (X #) of spots if they have no financial contribution to the wedding. Someone has to set some parameters. That usually happens with a frank discussion between the Bride, the Groom and the others who are financially contributing (like bride’s parents).
In a perfect world you could do whatever you want, have as many or as few people as you might like, and no one would object. But weddings are about compromise, and it is wise to air the financial issues early on.
Happy Wedding Planning.