What to Say to People Not Invited to Your Wedding


Readers Ask: How can I “soften the blow” for people I do not invite to the wedding?

Our Answer

Whatever the situation is, whether it’s a friend you’ve lost touch with or a distant family member that lives across the country and you haven’t seen them since you were five, there’s a simple, easy rule to follow when it comes to “softening the blow.”

When faced with explaining to someone as to why they weren’t invited to your wedding, just say,

“We wish space and budget was unlimited so we could celebrate with everyone! But it’s tighter than we anticipated and we had to plan a smaller wedding than we originally had in mind.”

There’s no guarantee that you’ll be faced with a situation where you have to justify your guest list, but this will work for anyone. Old teachers, coworkers, or neighbors that may feel close to you but you don’t share the same sentiment, explaining to them about space and budget leaves no room for error. Instead of creating lavish stories or excuses, going with a simple truth is a lot easier than pouring too many details into the explanation. It’ll spare feelings too.

Other Expert Answers

“Family can be particularly troublesome. Do second cousins count as must-invites? How about great aunts whose first names you can’t remember? In line with the previous points, the best route here is to have a consistent plan. If you love your second cousin, be prepared to invite his or her brothers and sisters as well. It’s only fair, even if you don’t particularly love them so much.

On the other hand, if you’re not close with any of your great aunts or uncles, or their offspring, don’t feel bad if they don’t make the list.

If you’re still worried about it, keep in mind that you can likely soften the blow of the possibly-perceived snub, by inviting them to a simple family gathering after-the-fact, during which they can meet and/or congratulate you and your then spouse. A low-key post-reception reception is a great way to help others feel included, without cramping your style, or standing between you and the intimate wedding you’ve envisioned. This is particularly helpful if you’ll be hosting a destination wedding, which many people may not be able to attend.” – Texas Old Town

Blame the budget

Explain to your guests that you’d love to have invited them to your big day but simply cannot afford to do so. It’s a little bit awkward but, if you feel really bad about it and if you’re holding the ceremony at another location, you could ask them to join you for the ceremony. Of course, don’t be surprised if they politely decline.

Say you’re keeping things as intimate as possible

Big weddings are fine (and can be lots of fun) but having hundreds of guests, or even dozens, at your wedding is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some couples genuinely want to keep things as small and intimate as possible, even those who can afford to invite everyone they know and love. Weddings are incredibly intimate events that expose you and your partner, your feelings, your emotions and your family and, frankly, it’s not something everyone wants to share with people who aren’t in their very inner circle.

Our venue isn’t big enough

Most venues simply cannot cater for the amount of people we’d liketo invite and, if your venue is small enough, it could legitimately be reason enough for having to keep your guest list quite tight. If that reason needs a little padding out, you could extend it by saying that though you’d love to invite more people, not only is the space limited, but your side of the list is already full.

Tell them the real reason they’re not invited

Though your aim is avoid hurting anyone when not inviting them, the fact is that some behaviour or incidents are bad or painful enough that you simply do not want a person at your wedding. In that case, tell but as gently as you see fit in the situation.

If it’s something that was so painful to you that you don’t want them there, chances are they already know about it and won’t be surprised at not being invited. If, however, they don’t know about your feelings towards them, well, the silver lining may be that you’ll have the opportunity to put your case forward and, maybe, even clear up something that wasn’t quite what you thought it was.

Whatever method you choose , try not to tell your friend/family member via a text or email or social media – and don’t let them find out from someone else either, if you can manage it.

Simply grit your teeth, put on your bravest face and tell them on the phone or face to face.

Explain to them how very much they mean to you and the reason you can’t invite them. After all, most people understand, especially if it’s a financial decision.

The fact is, if we all had unlimited budgets, we’d invite everyone we know and love, but the harsh reality is that most of us simply cannot.” – Easy Weddings

Other Helpful Resources