There are many reasons why you might feel you need to revoke a wedding invitation. Most often, it’s because of a logistics problem – you may have overestimated the amount of guests you’ll be able to cater for.
As with most wedding-related problems, this is something that it’s best to avoid in the first place. Be extremely careful when sending out save-the-dates, as everyone who receives one will expect an invitation. It’s always best to err on the side of caution – adding to your guest list is easy, but subtracting from it is hard.
Disinviting someone from your wedding, after you’ve already asked them to attend, is a huge breach of wedding etiquette. It’s seen as an extremely rude thing to do, and can cause a lot of offence and hurt feelings. Unfortunately, though, you may feel you have no choice. You may have had an argument or a falling-out with one of your guests, for example. Read on to discover when it is and isn’t okay to uninvite a wedding guest, and the best way to do it.
Is It Ever OK to Uninvite Wedding Guests?
Uninviting wedding guests is an extremely awkward and unpleasant thing to have to do. If at all possible, you should avoid it. Whatever is causing you to consider revoking an invitation, try to find some other way around it first.
For example, let’s say that you have a money or space problem. You’ve invited too many guests out of excitement, and now you’ve figured out that there’s not enough room for them all, or that your budget won’t stretch far enough to pay for everyone’s meals.
Before you start uninviting guests, consider the following options:
• Make it an adult-only wedding. This means you can invite all the same guests, but they can’t bring their kids – saving on space, and your food budget.
• Nix plus-ones for guests that aren’t married or in a serious relationship.
• Cut costs to accommodate more guests. For example, serve a more casual buffet rather than a three-course catered meal (which will have a more affordable per-head cost).
You can also invite some guests to the evening reception only, rather than the whole day. This means they can still celebrate with you, and join in the drinks and dancing, but they won’t be at the wedding breakfast.
Ultimately, it’s your wedding. If you feel that you have no choice but to disinvite someone, you have the right to make that decision.
When is Uninviting a Wedding Guest the Right Choice?
Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and revoke a wedding invitation. It’s far from ideal, and traditionalists would have you believe that it should never be done, under any circumstances.
This is untrue. It’s unfortunate, but you can change your mind about inviting someone, and sometimes there’s a very good reasons for doing so. For example:
• Your guest has recently revealed themselves to be a toxic person, or done something terribly wrong – such as committed a crime
• You’ve had a serious argument or falling-out with the guest in question, and it’s not something that can be resolved before the big day
• You know or suspect that the guest is planning to cause trouble at your wedding – such as by turning up in a white dress (yes, this does happen)
• You’ve unexpectedly hit hard times financially, and your budget simply doesn’t allow for as many guests as you’d originally anticipated
At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, and no-one else’s. Only you and your partner get to decide who attends. If that means uninviting someone, then so be it.
How to Uninvite a Wedding Guest
If – for whatever reason – you’re considering revoking one or more of your wedding invitations, there’s a right way to do it. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to pull off this tricky manoeuvre as tactfully and gracefully as possible.
Be Certain of Your Decision
Uninviting someone from your wedding is something you should only ever do as a last resort. If you’re considering it, you should be absolutely sure, and consider all possible alternatives first.
For example, if it’s a budget problem, could you try to make cuts elsewhere first? You could look into choosing a cheaper dress, or using more affordable wedding suppliers, so that you can accommodate that extra person.
If this isn’t possible, then rather than completely uninviting them, could you change them from an all-day guest to a reception-only guest? This might “soften the blow” a little.
If you’re uninviting them due to personal reasons – such as an argument or conflict – try to figure out some way to solve the problem before jumping to an un-invitation. Perhaps you just need to have a proper, sit-down talk with them, and communicate your feelings. If at all possible, it’s better to grin and bear their presence at your wedding rather than causing a scene by disinviting them.
If you do decide to uninvite someone, it’s vital to tell the person straight away. Don’t leave it until the last minute - otherwise they may already have booked accommodation or transport for the wedding.
Give them as much notice as possible.
Uninviting someone from a wedding isn’t something that you should do via text or e-mail. It’s a sensitive subject and something that requires a lot of tact – if you don’t do it properly, you risk causing more hurt than is necessary.
So, if at all possible, try to meet face-to-face with the person. Asking them out for coffee might be appropriate. If meeting up isn’t possible – because you live too far away, for example – then at least call them on the phone.
When you meet up (or call) the person you’re going to uninvite, don’t beat around the bush. Yes, it’s awkward to have to retract an invitation, but be clear and straightforward. Just politely explain that, unfortunately, you can no longer accommodate this person at your wedding.
If you’ve fallen out or there’s some ongoing drama, they may already know why, and may not have been planning to attend anyway. But if not, you ought to offer an explanation for your decision. If you’d rather not tell them the real reason, you can always blame it on the budget.
It’s very important, if you’re dealing with a toxic or narcissistic person, not to get into an argument or try to justify yourself. It’s your wedding, and your choice: all they need to know is that they’re no longer invited.
Offer an Olive Branch
Whether you choose to try and ‘make things right’ will depend on why you’ve uninvited this person. But if they’ve done nothing wrong, and you still want to be friends with them – perhaps you had to uninvite them due to your limited budget, or venue constraints – you should attempt to offer them an olive branch.
Let the person know that you still care about them and that you’re sorry that you had to withdraw your invitation. Perhaps you could offer to take them out for lunch, or invite them over for a fancy home-cooked dinner, by way of apology.
Deal with the Fallout
No matter how diplomatically you try to uninivite someone from your wedding, your relationship with them probably won’t be the same afterwards. It’s seen as a huge faux pas to rescind an invitation to any kind of event – especially one as important as a wedding.
So, this means that there will inevitably be some fallout as a result of your decision. The person you uninvited will likely be upset, or even angry (depending on their personality, and your reason for uninviting them).
It may take some time for them to forgive you. Of course, if you uninvited them because you had a falling-out or because they’re a toxic person, you may not even care. In that case, relax and put them out of your mind: you’re now free to focus on your u