Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Wedding Stress Overwhelming Future Bride

DEAR NATALIE: I'm about to get married, and my family is at each other's throats over the guest list. I wanted a small wedding, around 100 people. My fiance's parents -- who are paying for the bulk of the wedding -- wanted a bigger crowd, about 300. We both come from large families (I'm Italian, he's Greek), but I wanted to keep it small to keep down costs and because I'm not close to many people in my extended family. So, I explained this to my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and now she's angry. 

The wedding is only six months away, and invitations should have been sent by now. I'm a ball of stress and not sure how to handle this. Any suggestions? -- BRIDAL BLOWUP

DEAR BRIDAL BLOWUP: Elope! Run, grab a ladder (and your groom) and head for the hills! No? Can't do? OK, how about plan B: compromise. Swallow your pride, call your mother-in-law and say to her that there has to be some sort of middle ground where you both can feel comfortable. 

Unfortunately, because she is paying for the bulk of this, she probably feels insulted and assumes she can invite whomever she wants to the wedding. Not a good look, but true to a certain extent. Would you be comfortable with about 150-200 guests? 

You may just have to look at the bigger picture. You are going to be in her life for a long time, and if you want harmony, start now. It's frustrating, but let's be real -- Weddings are hardly ever about the two people getting married. They often are about all the family around them. The sooner you recognize that this is just a day, the easier it can be to put in perspective and move forward. As long as she is willing to pay for the other guests, the bigger budget for food, drink, linens, rentals, party favors, etc., then why fight so hard? If you really want a small wedding, find a way to pay for it yourself. Otherwise, jump on the bandwagon and try to make it as fun as you can. 

And order the good champagne! 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Want to meet new people in the city without having to spend any money? Share your time and join a volunteer organization that focuses on something you believe in. It's a great way to network while building self-esteem and doing something good for your community. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)