Should You Send a Wedding Invitation If You Know The Guest Can’t Come?

Key to organising your wedding is knowing who can and can’t attend. It defines how big your venue has to be, how many seats you’ll need at a reception, and how much you’ll have to pay for certain things. But if you think you know a guest can’t attend, there’s no point sending an invite… Right?
There are good reasons to send an invitation to a guest even if you don’t think they can attend: the invite is a memento, the guest might attend after all, you won’t offend anyone, and making sure of a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ is the point of an RSVP. But you could also save time and money by not sending ‘pointless’ invites, so the decision is up to you.
Have a talk with your partner and see if you can figure out which is the best option for you. If you’re still not sure, then read the guide below!

Sending an Invitation

It may seem nonsensical to send an invitation to somebody you know can’t attend your wedding. After all, the point of an invitation is to find out whether somebody can or can’t show up… So, if you already know that they can’t, then what’s the point in sending one?
But there are actually several very good reasons why you should consider doing so. Some of these reasons relate to you, while some are more relevant for the guest…

The Guest Might Attend After All

Depending on what’s preventing them from attending, the guest may suddenly have their schedule cleared. A previously-booked holiday might be called off, a sick relative might get better, or any other problem might be solved in the meantime.
If you did send an invitation, then it would give them an easy way to let you know. And if you didn’t send the invitation, then the guest might assume that they aren’t invited at all. It’s better to avoid this confusion by sending invites to every potential guest even if you think they won’t come.

An Invitation Is Also a Memento

A wedding invite isn’t just a wedding invite: it serves as a way to remember the day. That’s why many guests will keep the invites you send to them, even though they (of course) won’t need them after you’re married.
That even applies to guests who can’t attend. If anything, the invitation is all the more important to them because they won’t have any other memories of you getting married. This is especially the case for older relatives who can’t attend, not because they don’t want to, but because they have a health issue or something unavoidable has come up.

This Is What RSVP’s Are For

You aren’t only supposed to send invitations to people you know can attend. Otherwise, you could get away with just sending save the dates instead. You send an invite with an RSVP so that the guest can respond with either a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. Once they reply, you can begin planning your ceremony and reception in earnest.
The other side of this issue is that if you expect every invited guest to turn up, you may be shocked when some of them can’t. More than anything, the lesson is to not assume either way what a guest is going to do. So, let the RSVP’s do the work for you rather than assuming guests can or can’t attend.

The Guest/s Might Be Offended If You Don’t

Older family members typically have a more traditional view of weddings, and will have attended or at least been invited to several in their lifetimes. These potential guests will look forward to receiving their invites even if they know they can’t attend (e.g. because of a health issue).
If you chose not to send an invite to one of these potential guests, they may be disappointed or even offended. This is partly because it gives the impression that you aren’t thinking of them or don’t care about them; it’s also partly because they may want to keep the invite as a memento, as pointed out above. But whatever the case, this is easily avoided by sending an invite and allowing them to RSVP ‘No’.

Wedding Invites Come in Bulk

Last but not least, you may as well send invites to every potential guest because when you buy them, you buy them in bulk. Wedding stationers usually package invites and other forms of wedding stationery in bulk groups, because wedding groups are large, and everybody needs spares.
What this means is that you’ll likely have some invites going spare anyway. Rather than letting these go to waste, you should send them to each one of these potential guests that you anticipate can’t come. After all, if you don’t, they’ll only sit in a drawer collecting dust!

Not Sending an Invitation

All that being said, there are good reasons to only send invitations to guests you know will attend. These are worth considering in comparison to the points above. Chief of these is that you’ll save money if you don’t, but that’s not all.

You Will Save Money

The most obvious reason why you shouldn’t send the invitations is that you can save some money: on the card and on the stamp. If you know for certain that several people can’t attend, then you would save even more.
Of course, invites aren’t as expensive as other things you need to buy for a wedding. If you buy through Bride & Groom Direct’s online wedding stationery store, you even get your envelopes free with your order. And besides, personalised invites are surprisingly cheap when you buy them in bulk from an online store.
But if you’re under financial pressure or you just want to save where you can, then this is one way to do it. And to counter any of the potential issues described above, instead of sending the invite, you could make a follow up call at a later date to make sure they really aren’t attending.

You Will Save Time

On top of saving money, you’ll save time (although not that much). When it’s time to whip out a spreadsheet to note who’s coming and who’s not, you can prefill the ‘responses’ of certain guests you know won’t attend.
You’ll also save time on filling out anything that needs to be filled out on your invitation (if you’re planning on writing a brief message on it, anyway). And, of course, you won’t have to stuff it in an envelope and send it off with the rest. All in all, this isn’t a lot of time saved, but there’s lots of wedding admin to do… So every little helps!
This may also save you time on waiting for a response. If the guest in question is notorious for putting things off, then you could be waiting weeks to get your RSVP back. If you’re sure that they aren’t coming, then you won’t have to wait that long before starting on the rest of your plans (like your reception).

You Might Send No Invitations

For a small wedding, there’s less need to send invitations out whether it’s to a guest you think can’t attend or not. That’s because you can invite all of your guests in person or over the phone instead. All of your guests will likely be close friends and family anyway, so shouldn’t be too difficult to talk to.
This, again, can save you money on your wedding. If you do go down this route, make sure you’re as organised as you would be when sending regular invitations: write out a list of guests (or even a spreadsheet!) and go through it one by one, preferably in one marathon session. This should avoid any nasty surprises a week down the line when you realise you’ve forgotten to invite somebody.

To Send, Or Not to Send…

Ultimately, whether to send the invite or not is your decision. There are upsides and downsides to whichever path you choose. But if you’re still not sure, consider this:
– What kind of guest are you debating sending the invite to? Is the person of an older generation, or somebody who might be offended if you don’t send one? Or would they not care?
– Do you have enough spare invites? Remember, you’ll need some ready and waiting if somebody doesn’t receive theirs and you need to send another. You may need a dozen extra invites, depending on the size of your wedding.
And if you still aren’t sure, why not ask the guest what they would prefer? All it would take is a quick phone call, and then you can have a definitive answer.