How to Handle Wedding Guests That Show Up Uninvited

How do you deal with wedding crashers?

This is something that you may not have thought about much, but it does happen. It’s important to establish what you’ll do if anyone turns up to your wedding who wasn’t invited.

The easiest option is to have somebody at the door of the venue – an usher, for example – who cross-checks the name of each guest with your guest list. This stops gate-crashers from entering in the first place.

You can even hire wedding security to enforce the guest list requirement. This is a good option if you’re expecting someone particularly unwelcome to show up – such as an ex-partner whom you deliberately didn’t invite.

Which approach you take depends on what kind of uninvited guests you’re expecting. If someone decides to bring a date when they weren’t allocated a plus one, you may not even care all that much – just accommodate them as best as you can. But if you’re worried that toxic family members or former friends to crash your do, stricter measures may be necessary.

Plan for Invitees Who Didn’t RSVP

If anyone that you invited to your wedding chose not to RSVP, it’s safe to assume they aren’t coming. However, you should be prepared for any eventuality - including the fact that some people who never bothered to respond may turn up anyway. The same goes for people who RSVP’d ‘no’, but changed their mind at the last minute.

You need to decide, before your big day, what you’ll do if this happens. Will you allow them to attend anyway? If so, make sure that your table plan has enough space to accommodate them. Perhaps set up a spare table of empty seats, or add a few extra chairs around the room here and there. Also, talk to your caterer – book a few extra meals, just in case.

Another option is to allow them to attend the ceremony, but don’t feed them. This is entirely reasonable. After all, you gave them ample time to RSVP, and they never did – so you didn’t order a meal for them. They should understand – and if they don’t like it, they can go home. Simple!
Your third option is to not let them in at all. Treat them the same way you’d treat someone who you didn’t invite at all. This is the harshest approach, but completely fair: only guests that RSVP’d “yes” get to attend, and that’s that. If this is your choice, be willing to have someone (such as your ushers, or hired security) ready to turn away anyone who’s not on the list.

Have a Guest List on the Door

The easiest way to handle gate-crashers is to stop them crashing your wedding in the first place. You can do that by putting together a guest list and having someone physically stand at the door, checking that everyone who turns up was invited.

If anybody wants to come in, they’ll have to provide their name. This weeds out any potential strangers, members of the public, and toxic family members that you deliberately didn’t invite. And all without you having to lift a finger.

To put a system like this in place, you can either allocate someone from your wedding party to be the ‘doorman’, or speak to your venue and see if they can spare a member of staff. This is a reasonable request for them to accommodate.

Give them a list of who you’re expecting to attend your wedding. Don’t forget to indicate who is and isn’t allowed a plus-one. And of course, tell the ‘doorman’ what to do if anyone does bring a plus one when they shouldn’t. For example, should the plus one be turned away, or allowed to attend with the understanding that there’s no meal for them? You decide.

Have Someone in the Wedding Party Remove Them

It’s traditionally not the job of the bride or groom to deal with organisational hiccups on the wedding day. You want to enjoy your wedding, not spend your time putting out fires and fixing the problems people cause. That’s why the ushers and the maid of honour are so important.

The ushers’ job is organisational in nature, so organisational jobs can be at least partly referred to them. Ushers normally escort guests to their seats, so it’s their job to know where people are supposed to be and when. It’s therefore well within the usher’s ‘wheelhouse’ to identify guests who aren’t supposed to be there.

The maid of honour’s job isn’t quite as relevant. The maid of honour is supposed to help the bride throughout the day: carrying things like umbrellas, ensuring that the bridal party sticks together and is ready for the next stage of the wedding, and so on. But as the bride’s helper-in-chief, handling unwanted guests could also be her job.

If unwanted guests are a particular concern for you, then it may be a good idea to pick ushers or a maid of honour who you’re confident can deal with them. Talk with them well in advance and make them aware that this may be part of their job description. You could even give them a list of specific people who definitely aren’t welcome, so that they know to watch out for them.
Make sure they’re comfortable with the idea and fully prepared for it. Then, if the worst does happen, ensure that they know as soon as possible.

Hire Wedding Security (Yes, Hire Security!)

If gate-crashers are a particular concern for you, you could hire security for your wedding venue. This may sound like overkill, but if you have uninvited family members and ‘friends’ who you’re sure will bring their drama to your day, this expense would be more than worth it. Especially if the people you’re worried about showing up may be aggressive or violent.

The trouble is that handling toxic gate-crashers isn’t something that many people are good at; if toxic people were easy to deal with, we wouldn’t call them toxic! As such, it’s an awful lot to ask for an usher or maid of honour to get rid of them. Unless you’re absolutely confident in their abilities, then security would be a better option, if more expensive.

Security can stand at the door to the venue and enforce the guest list rule. You could also have security inside the venue, to deal with any flare-ups and fights that happen between invited guests.
If you are going to hire security, talk to your venue first, as they may have a firm they can recommend for the job. They may even hire security for their wedding parties on a regular basis, in which case you can leave everything to them!

Talk to Them Yourself

You can’t get rid of an uninvited guest unless you confront them. You can always take matters into your own hands and confront them yourself.
While it would be best for somebody else to do it—you want to enjoy your big day, not talk with somebody you don’t want to talk with—you may be uniquely placed to talk to this person. The reason you don’t want them there may be deeply personal, for example; or they may not listen to anybody but you.

Approach the situation by asking them kindly. There may be no need to go in “all guns blazing”; make it clear that you just want to have a peaceful day, and that any drama or fighting can be done afterwards. If you’re a particularly persuasive person, they may listen to you and do as you ask.
We don’t recommend spending a long time trying to convince them to leave. You want to get back to your wedding day as soon as possible.

Deal With It

This is your final option, and it’s not a particularly pleasant one, but it may be one you’re forced to take. If you don’t have any recourse for removing this particular person from your wedding, it may be best to simply accept that they’re there and move on.

If the gate-crasher is a random member of the public, or a plus-one that wasn’t invited, or someone who was invited but didn’t RSVP, you may find this preferable to making a big scene with somebody who refuses to leave. Attending a celebration you weren’t invited to is rude, but you don’t need to let their presence ruin your day. Depending on what kind of person you are, you could even find it funny—or a compliment to your party hosting skills.

Whatever you choose, make sure you’ve decided how you’re going to handle wedding crashers long before your big day. That way, there’s no ambiguity, and your wedding party (and venue staff) know what to do if the worst happens.

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