How to tell people they are not invited to your wedding

Whether you’re having an intimate wedding for 50 people or a mid-sized event with 150 guests, it is likely that you won’t be able to invite all the people you want to your wedding—or all those who want to come. Not necessarily the same group.


There is just something about a wedding that brings out the ‘me, too’ in people.  We’ve all been there—someone didn’t invite us to their wedding and we’ve wondered, WHY, GOD? WHYYYY?


Then comes your wedding, and the cold hard truth of numbers hits you in the face, smushed into your nostrils like wedding cake wielded by an insensitive groom.


You have to cut some people, you’ve figured out whom—but how do you tell them?

Bride with bouquet

Simply ignoring the fact that you haven’t invited someone is not the way to go. You know she will mention your wedding, if only to congratulate you, or she will be around when someone else brings it up.  While the uninvitee may be nice enough not to raise the omission, both of you are thinking about it.  You are feeling uncomfortable. She is feeling resentful. Here are some strategies to let that someone down gently and ensure that this won’t affect your relationship before and after your wedding.


  1. Share your Sob Story

It may well be that you would sincerely love to invite this person to your wedding but your budget just won’t allow it.  So tell them as much and illustrate your plight by telling them about some other dear friends who aren’t coming. “And I’ve kept in touch with my third grade teacher for twenty years and we couldn’t even fit her in. It’s just ridiculous. I’m a wreck about this!”  Feel free to tear up at this point.

  1. Blame Others

A spouse is automatically a handy scapegoat. Start early and begin blaming him or her now. “Rashid has hundreds of relatives in the GTA that must be invited and so I’ve had to cut my numbers mercilessly. It’s so unfair but what can I do? I can’t insult his family, but nor do I want to go bankrupt.” Again, feel free to tear up at this point.

  1. Elicit their Empathy

This strategy works well if the person has been married and neglected to invite you to his nuptials. If you didn’t know him when he married, you lose that edge. However, you can use his wedding to deal with the awkwardness. Tease out his story. Ask him how big his wedding was. If it was small, ask if it was tough not including everyone he wanted to and then, “Gosh, I’m in the same boat. If I had it my way, I’d invite 100 more people. It just kills me that you won’t be there. But of course you’ve been through this—you know how tricky the numbers are.” Because, EMPATHY.


Alternatively, if he had a huge wedding, comment on how costly it must have been, “You’re a braver man than me. I had to stick to low numbers. I’m so lucky people have been so understanding. Thank you, by the way.” If he looks dubious, try the tears.  It never hurts. Weddings are so emotional.


  1. Handle the Hostiles

These are delicate flowers who are unexpectedly hostile.  They will ask you directly, “Why didn’t invite me to your wedding?” You can easily employ Strategy 1 or 2 (though not really 3), but I have come to believe that if they are rude enough to ask, you don’t need the same finesse.  No matter what you do, they are going to be offended.


I knew a girl in university who would regularly threaten, “You better invite me to your wedding,” even though I wasn’t even seeing anyone. She knew that when the time did come, I would forget her because we weren’t terribly close.  So she thought early threats might be a good idea. I recommend when dealing with these aggressives, less is more. “I’m so sorry.  Numbers were very tight. But I know you wish us well and I hope you aren’t too angry.”  Once someone asks you not to be angry, it’s harder to be.  Though you shouldn’t put it past them.


There is wisdom that recommends you only invite those to your wedding who would be genuinely upset if you ever got divorced. That criterion might leave with you a much shorter guest list that even you want. You can always quote that advice if confronted by the uninvited. Certainly not gentle, but right is right.


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