How To Tell Someone They're Not Invited To Your Wedding

July 8, 2016 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Weddings

Well, this is awkward.

Your friend, well she’s really more like an acquaintance, is talking to you about your upcoming wedding, fully assuming that she’s invited… but there’s just one problem: she’s not. How do you tell her? Should you give her a pity invite? Should you have a closer mutual friend tell her? Awks!

Herein lies the rub of having a limited number of people you can invite to your wedding (a problem literally every bride on the planet has, even this chick): some people are going to be left out. The sorority sister you love but fell out of touch with… your cool cousin who lives across the country… your best friend from second grade that’s gotten really weird… the list goes on and on of people that you just don’t like enough or can’t afford to pay for a seat for at your wedding. Sometimes it’s just an issue of space, sometimes it’s an issue of “I don’t want you to be there”–but either way, etiquette rules would dictate that you should be honest and tell them that they aren’t invited, rather than ignoring the issue. So–how do you tell them?

How to tell someone they’re not invited to your wedding.

Assess the situation. The first step is to figure out the extent of the problem–do they know they’re not invited or are they totally oblivious? Would you want them to be there, but you have a legitimate reason why they can’t (like the venue can only hold a certain number of people, or you have a very limited budget, or the wedding is out of the country)? Have the save the dates already gone out, and someone that was invited spilled the beans to them? Try to get not only a read of the situation from their end, but also reflect on what you truly want the message to be when you talk (“I really appreciate our friendship, but I just can’t.”) This will help you prep for the big talk.

Don’t do it when you’re in a bad mood. Planning can be incredibly stressful, and sometimes the stresses of one area can bleed in to the next. Don’t tell someone that they’re not invited to your wedding right after someone else (ahem, your mother-in-law) has made you mad. Pick a time when your head is clear and quite frankly, you’re not being a bridezilla. This is key.

Be honest and brief. According to Emily Post, “Honesty is both about about telling the truth and avoiding even white lies, and about acting sincerely and with integrity.” Don’t skirt the issue–people appreciate when you are genuine and sincere with them. A simple, “I wanted to let you know that I was not able to invite you to the wedding,” will do. If they start to ask you questions about why they weren’t invited or why other people were or if you will change your mind, cut the conversation short or change the subject. You’ve made your point, now it’s time to move on people.

Don’t offer fake apologies, pity invites or promises to make it up to them. Don’t get in to a situation where you’re saying, “I can’t have you to the wedding, but please come to my beach house for Labor Day!” You don’t owe them anything but honesty. And don’t let guilty feelings cause you to invite them to the wedding last minute–this will just cause you to be stressed and uncomfortable at your own wedding (not to mention the logistical problems like seating arrangements and budget). Remember–if you truly wanted them to be there, they would have made the list. They may feel hurt or disappointed now but they will get over it quickly. Now, go enjoy your wedding with the people who truly deserve to be there!


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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