Ask Brittany: How do I tell someone they aren’t invited to my wedding?

    Family members assume they are invited to our wedding and we haven't finalized our plans yet. We were hoping for a small intimate ceremony, what's the best way to respond to family members asking about their invites?

    Building out your guest list is difficult. As Cali and Chris shared in their Vlog, Guest List Politics, there is a lot to think about, and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. I really recommend cracking open a bottle of rosé one weekend and getting this out of the way as soon as you can, or as close to done as possible. Obviously, it will feel better when you’re done, but you’ll also have a better idea how to respond to people when they bring it up. It’s always easier to respond in truth.

    It’s always easier to respond in truth.

    I’ve always subscribed to the idea that honesty is the best policy, even when it’s uncomfortable. While it would be amazing if people just “took the hint,” you will also have friends and relatives who will directly and indirectly press you for information about their invitation. Then the question comes down to: Is the person asking actually invited? If they are on the guest list and invitations simply haven’t gone out yet, that’s an easy and honest message to convey.

    If they’re never going to get an invitation, then it get’s a little sticky. Not all decision making processes are easy, and the reality is you can’t include everyone. Most people can’t (or won’t) extend an invitation because of budget or wedding size. This is usually true, and I believe it’s an adequate response. If there are individuals with whom you have a more intimate relationship, they may deserve a more detailed answer.

    You may still have one or two people who get upset and honestly, there isn’t much you can do but stand in firm in the choices you made for your guest list and wish them the best.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily polite to inform people the won’t be invited, but I do believe it’s important to honor and acknowledge important people on your path or journey that you would like to celebrate with – if you had an unlimited budget and space. This can be as simple as a phone call or text and an invitation to hang out at a future time. I’ve personally been invited to various dinners or events after a friend’s wedding that was less formal but still inclusive and gave us an opportunity to celebrate with our friend. Most people will be understanding of whatever you decide, but you may still have one or two people who get upset and honestly, there isn’t much you can do but stand in firm in the choices you made for your guest list and wish them the best.

    The last piece of this I’ll speak to is having some level of empathy. Remember that the people asking to come to your wedding are more than likely wanting to share in your love, joy, and happiness. They are excited for your next chapter and not being invited may feel like they aren’t as important or their friendship isn’t valued. Social rejection is really tough – on everyone. I think at some point we’ve all been “last picked at dodgeball.” So not getting an invitation in the mail could be really hurtful. Don’t lie and don’t give someone the runaround. A simple, “I would really love for you to be there, but we had to make some tough choices with the guest list in order to stay within our budget,” will be a lot less hurtful than unanswered calls.

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