How to tell people they're not invited to your wedding

Looking for advice to keep your wedding guest list small and avoid drama? Our relationships expert offers helpful tips to tell people they’re not invited to your wedding.

By Laura L. Benn

How to trim your wedding guest list
Photography by istockphoto.com/hatman12
Congratulations! You're engaged to the love of your life! There's just one problem – there are certain people who you can't (or simply don't want to) invite to your wedding.

While it would be nice to avoid all of those awkward conversations by simply riding off into the sunset with your hunky fiancé, the reality is that telling people they are not invited to your wedding is an inevitable bridal task.

Luckily, Christine Hart, the relationship expert behind Your Date Coach, has some tips for limiting the guest list – and the drama –on your big day.

1. Make it personal

Although we live in a world of tweets, Facebook messages and emails, Hart strongly advises avoiding the mass, generic message when it comes to wedding matters.

"Nobody wants to receive an email for something so intimate," she says. "Be brave. Try to talk to each friend separately and in person – or at the very least arrange a phone call."

Of course, amidst cake tastings, band auditions and wedding dress shopping, very few brides-to-be have the time to sit down with every person in her life for a one-on-one chat. So Hart advises organizing your friends into levels.

"Divide your friends into two groups: those you are really close with and truly rely on and those who you perhaps see for coffee once in a while," she says. "The friends you are close with deserve an in-person explanation, while the more casual friendships can probably handle a gentle, personalized email."

2. Create memorable pre- or post-wedding activities

A wedding is much more than the actual day itself. Even though friends and family members may not be invited to the celebrations, they can still be involved in other ways.

"Assigning an awesome pre- or post-wedding position can greatly lessen the blow of being told they are not invited," explains Hart. "If you're not having your besties to the wedding, assign each of them a task, like helping you choose your shoes or flowers. Make it a personal, memorable task that allows you to have one-on-one time together to commemorate the occasion."

This will not only help you check things off of your never-ending to-do list, but it will make your close friends and family members feel valued and remembered.

3. Throw a casual engagement or post-wedding party

If the numbers game is the real reason that you can't have certain people at your wedding, Hart suggests throwing a casual engagement party. It doesn't have to be a fancy affair. Beers and a backyard barbecue or a friendly potluck dinner will do.

You can also hire a videographer for the wedding and then share the footage at a casual get-together after the fact.

"Hosting a less fancy event before or after is a great, cost-effective way to still have everyone feel involved," says Hart. "After all, weddings are (or at least should be) about toasting good health to the happy couple no matter what the setting."

4. Keep your game face on

Unfortunately, some people may be irritated, hurt or even angry and take your decision to have a small, intimate ceremony as a personal slight. You may even hear the term "bridezilla" tossed around.

In these situations, Hart recommends deflecting the conversation toward neutral reasons for maintaining a limited guest list.

"Event etiquette typically comes down to the cost of a wedding, venue size and numbers," she says. Citing any one of these perfectly plausible reasons – even if it isn't entirely true and you would just prefer a certain someone wasn't at your wedding – is usually your best bet for avoiding resentment and hurt feelings.

5. Establish bridal boundaries

A lot of weddings become clouded by what it will take to keep others happy and satisfied, so Hart advises establishing some strong boundaries.

"Take some time with your fiancé to really think about what the two of you want," she says. "Have a lot of the planning worked out before you bring in other people's opinions."

This way, if you do happen to encounter some heavy, opinionated personalities, you can politely say: "Thank you, but we've already decided that this works best for our budget and happiness."

6. Be firm and united

Using language like, "My finance and I have decided…" helps to establish a united, impermeable front when breaking the bad news. Plus, it helps to deter any potential protests. If you do get some push back from friends or family members about your decision, simply switch the needs conversation around.

"You must let them know what you need from them," says Hart. "Saying ‘It's really important that we feel respected by our decision,' gently reminds a person that really this decision isn't about them."

Above all else, if things do get heated, avoid saying something you might regret, such as "I'm not going to be guilted into this." Instead, reassure the other party that they were taken into consideration and offer other ways that they can be involved.

"Just remind people that your decision isn't personal and that this is what you need to have the most amazing wedding day for you," says Hart. "The majority of the time, people want the bride and groom to be happy and will come around."


Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide



All rights reserved. Transcontinental Media G.P. © 2014