How to Kindly Uninvite a Wedding Guest
What happens when your up-until-now best friend puts the moves on your fiancé behind your back? Or your crazy uncle announces he’s attending the wedding nude or not at all?
You uninvite them, of course. But not every situation is as clear-cut. Maybe your aunt disregarded your “adults only” invitation and is planning on bringing her six ill-behaved children. Maybe your cousin incorrectly assumed that his prom date was invited to your wedding dinner, too. Or (and this happens most frequently of all), you start doing budget math and realize you’ve invited more people than you can afford.
Uninviting a guest is a tricky business. It’s much easier to let people know upfront that they’re not invited than to offer an invitation and try to rescind it. The emotional roller coaster ends up weighing heavily on friendships. To uninvite a wedding guest, we recommend the following tips:
#1 Have a Good Reason (but Tell the Truth)
The conversation will always be awkward, but it’s a lot less painful if you’re not uninviting your guest because of her behavior. In order to smooth over hurt feelings and preserve your friendship, focus your conversation on how much you regret having to call dozens of your close friends with the bad news (it’s less painful if your friend knows she isn’t the only one being uninvited).
Good reasons revolve around changing life circumstances; for example, you thought you could afford a wedding with 200 guests, but since you lost your job, you realize you can only host 50–and most of those are family members. Or, perhaps you thought your future in-laws were paying for the wedding, and they just rescinded their offer and left you high and dry. Whatever the story, make sure you relate it with an appropriate amount of regret.
Whatever you do, resist the temptation to pad the truth. If your friend finds out that your “intimate wedding of just family members” included a few best friends here and there, your rejection will sting a lot more.
#2 Address the Problem
If bad behavior on your friend’s part was the cause of the un-invitation, don’t just sweep it under the rug–that tempts repeat behavior in the future. You have two options: forgive and forget, or cut your losses. Before talking with your friend, it’s important to have a clear course of action in mind, since that will affect how you broach the subject.
If you want to forgive and forget, you may not have to un-invite your friend after all. Schedule a time to sit down with your friend free of distractions and discuss the matter. Bring up exactly what your friend did and let her know how she hurt you by her behavior. If your friend shows remorse and isn’t the type to repeat her behavior, it’s time to let bygones be bygones. Together, discuss the best course of action to ensure that both of you are comfortable at the wedding. (For example, if your friend said something insulting to your fiancé, a sincere apology is in order.)
If you don’t think you can salvage your friendship, it’s time to cut your losses. Remember, uninviting someone to your wedding because of bad behavior usually marks a definitive end to the friendship. Only take this step if you’re certain you’re willing to accept the consequences. How you deliver the news is up to you; just give your ex-friend the clear message that she is uninvited.
#3 Avoid a Public Scene
Not every situation is completely clear-cut. For example, what if you love your father dearly, but you know he has trouble around alcohol and his ex-wife—both of which will be very much present at the wedding? You see the inevitable meltdown and chair-flinging explosion as clearly as a preview for a Jerry Springer Show episode. As tempting as it may be to spring for the “easy” choice and un-invite him from the wedding, the correct answer is more complicated than that.
When someone you love has all the makings of a difficult wedding guest, ask yourself the question: “Ten years from now, will I regret not having him at my wedding?” Remember, your wedding day only happens once. If you regret your decision, you can’t go back and redo it. If there’s any inkling of doubt, invite him. Wrangling a difficult guest for one day is easier than shouldering a lifetime of guilt.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can invite your problem-guest and prevent a drama catastrophe, too. Let a few trusted friends or relatives know about your guest’s potential triggers and warning signs. That way, if your father starts getting red in the face or sidling up to your stepfather’s table, your best man and maid of honor can swoop in and distract him. Let the emcee know, too, so if any wedding toasts get out of control, the microphone can conveniently malfunction.
#4 Do It with Style
Even though you’re delivering news that no guest wants to hear, if you have to un-invite somebody, you can still do it with style. First, schedule a face-to-face meeting. Don’t deliver the bad news over the phone (or worse, via text!). Second, let your uninvited guests know as soon as possible. That way, you can prevent them from buying special outfits and items for the wedding. Third, keep your guests and would-be guests separate. Don’t taunt your uninvited guests with wedding planning news and photos on shared social networks. Yes, you have to deliver unwelcome news. But the way you deliver it can still be done with style and grace.
It’s never easy to uninvite a wedding guest, but it’s better to avoid uncertain stressful events.