couple and wedding guests

The movie Wedding Crashers depicts uninvited wedding guests as fun-loving charmers who add excitement to the event. However, we all know that actual uninvited wedding guests are usually less than desirable. Whether it’s your cousin’s brand-new boyfriend or your college pal’s kids, wedding crashers are less likely to be random people trying to score free and more likely friends or relatives of your invited guests. While there are some steps you can take before the wedding to avoid these sorts of situations, it’s important to know how to handle any uninvited wedding guests who happen to appear on your special day.

Concerned about uninvited wedding guests? Here are some steps to take both before and during your event.

Address your invitations clearly.

When it comes to addressing your invitation envelopes, don’t leave anything to chance. Be as clear as possible by writing the exact names of the people you’re inviting on your invites’ envelopes. Know that writing “and guest” can be interpreted in different ways by your guests, so it’s best to be super-specific. Do the extra legwork to find out the names of your guests’ plus-ones (if you’re inviting them) so there’s no need to write “and guest.” If you’re really concerned about uninvited wedding guests, you might want to write the exact names of those you’re inviting on the RSVP cards, too.

Read RSVPs carefully.

We hate to say it, but wedding guests can be pretty sneaky sometimes. Even if you’ve been crystal clear about whom you’re inviting, your guests might write the names of additional guests (dates, kids, etc.) on the RSVP cards in the hopes that you’ll be too busy to notice or care. Be sure to read your RSVPs closely to make sure that only invited guests are listed as attending. If you catch a guest trying to add someone to the RSVP list, give them a call yourself or have a trusted family members handle the situation. Politely but firmly, let them know that due to your venue’s capacity and budget constraints, you’re only able to accommodate those on the official guest list—no exceptions. They’ll likely be so embarrassed, they’ll apologize and honor your wishes.

Pre-warn your venue or planner.

We all have ‘em—friends or relatives who believe that the rules don’t apply to them. There may be a few people on your guest list who, despite your best efforts, might not respect your wishes and bring a plus-one (or two, or three…) anyway. Alert your wedding planner, caterer, and venue coordinator of the potential extra guests in advance that you suspect may show up, so that they’ll be able to handle the situation with an extra seat and extra meal. The more pre-planning you can do, the less stress you’ll have to deal with on your big day.

Don’t handle wedding crashers yourself.

There is a difference between your guests bringing plus-ones and/or kids, and true wedding crashers, or people you don’t know and have no connection to your event whatsoever. While it’s fairly unlikely that true wedding crashers will show up at your event, it may occur if your venue is in or near a public space (like a park or beach, for example), or you have a large guest list. True wedding crashers pose a potential safety issue and should be removed as swiftly as possible. If a particular person or group of people look unfamiliar, check with your spouse, parents, and in-laws to ensure that they’re not a friend or relative you just haven’t met yet. If they’re confirmed to be crashers, feel free to let your venue coordinator or planner know so that the person can be removed quietly. Don’t try to handle the situation yourself—focus on enjoying your day, not spotting crashers.

Try your best to accommodate uninvited wedding guests.

The more likely scenario is that your friends and relatives may bring extra guests to your event. If this occurs, realize that it’s not worth the energy and time to get upset or scold the offending guest. Instead, do your best to be a good host and ask your planner, caterer, and venue coordinator to accommodate your extra person or people—or have a relative or wedding party member handle this discussion for you. The uninvited wedding guest or guests should be seated wherever there’s space (even an extra table in the back if necessary), and it’s highly unlikely they’ll complain.