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How to Tell Someone They’re NOT Invited to Your Wedding

If someone thinks they're going to receive an invite but actually is not invited to your wedding, it can be, um, awkward. Here's how to handle the situation.

wedding invitation

Inviting guests to your wedding may seem rather simple. You create a list of who you want to invite, send them invitations and then celebrate with those individuals on your wedding day. But once you’re in the thick of wedding planning and have to make the often difficult decisions revolving around who’s invited and not invited to your wedding, things get a bit more complicated, to say the very least. In fact, second to finding and securing a venue, Vicky Choy of Event Accomplished in Arlington, Virginia, believes determining the guest list is the hardest task for engaged couples—and it often leads to tension with the involved parties.

“First, the engaged couple comes up with a list of people they want to invite and then they typically ask their parents whom they want to invite,” she explains. “If this master list of guests has a higher count than your ideal numbers, you need to start trimming—but then you have to factor in who gets a plus one and who’s allowed to bring children.” Other factors include individuals you once were very close with but no longer really communicate with—do they still get an invite for old time’s sake?

For whatever reason, people get very sensitive and take a great deal of offense over not being invited to someone’s wedding. “Extended family members may get upset because they think they are closer to the couple than they are, parents can get very upset if their children are also not invited to the wedding, single guests may feel slighted if they were not invited to your wedding with a plus one, and so forth,” says Alexis Eliopoulos O'Mara of Unique Weddings by Alexis in Boston, Massachusetts.

To the couple getting married, however, they have a lot to factor in such as guest count, room size, cost and, of course, not wanting to meet someone new at their own wedding. However, one of the biggest reasons couples choose not to invite someone, according to O’Mara, is that the couple wants to make sure that everyone they invite is someone that means a lot to them, and someone who will be a part of their life for the long-term.

So how do you handle someone who thinks they’re getting an invite to your big day, but are actually not invited to your wedding? Here’s the right way to deal with the situation, according to wedding pros.

Set the tone.

Well in advance, consider tell friends or extended family that space is limited at your venue so you have to taper down your guest list. “For parents who are asking whether or not their children will get an invite, explain that you are having an adults-only repletion, therefore, no children are invited to the wedding (other than maybe a child in the wedding party, if that’s the case),” says O’Mara. “Or if the reception is at a museum or historic home, you might let them know that the venue has strict policies about children and it’s safer for everyone to not have any attend the reception.”

Blame it on the budget.

Most people know that weddings are expensive, so many will understand if you explain that you could not invite them because of your budget or the capacity at your venue. “Some couples simply don't have the financial means to invite everyone they want to the wedding, and a lot of times, the chosen venue will have a capacity that is going to put some constraints on the invite list,” says Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events in Long Island City, New York. “Feel free to mention in conversation that you're working with a tight budget or that you've booked a venue with limited space (because it often is the truth!).”

Explain to friends why they were not invited to your wedding with a guest.

Plus ones are a big topic of discrepancy when it comes to wedding invites. The best way to tackle those asking whether or not they can bring a plus one (even when their invitation did not offer them one), is to explain that you want your wedding to be more intimate and that you prefer to know everyone who is coming, suggests O’Mara. “Promise to seat them with the group of friends they will have there, not at a table where they have to meet all new people.”

Keep convos over the guest list to a minimum.

“It's important that everyone involved with the wedding planning process (the couple, parents, siblings, friends) be mindful of not talking too much about the wedding planning in front of those who may not be invited and to not accidentally invite someone verbally,” says Choy. “Never say ‘Oh you should come!’ if you don't mean it.” Although this can be tough to pull off in our social media-saturated times, the quieter you are about your big day in front of those not invited to your wedding, the easier it will be to tackle these tough confrontations.