10 blunt-but-loving ways to tell people they’re not invited to your wedding

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“You're not invited” cards from Etsy seller MellieBellieBoutique

Oh, the trials of the wedding guest list. Especially if you're throwing a small wedding or micro wedding dealing with frustrations from family and friends who aren't invited to your wedding can be grueling.

You've sent out the invites, and then you hear from someone who isn't on your guestlist expressing confusion, concern, or even anger. WHY WASN'T I INVITED!?

I wrote about this in the Offbeat Bride book — dealing with your wedding's guest list can make you feel like a big mean club bouncer, deciding who's in and who's out of the VIP line.

While there's no way to make everyone happy, I do believe that there are a few key phrases you can use if an uninvited guests asks you if they're invited.

FIRST: I'm NOT suggesting you contact people to tell them they're not invited. 

The “you're not invited” cards featured in this post are funny elopement announcement cards for newlyweds to send after their elopement — no one here is actually suggesting you send people cards to tell them they're not invited to your wedding.

These funny post-elopement reception-only invitations are available here.

But, if someone ASKS you if they're invited, there are ways you can tell them that you love them, you SO appreciate their interest, but no, they're not invited.

Below, I've wrassled up ten of my favorite copy ‘n' paste gentle guest list rejection responses.

How you want to approach your response can depend on which angle you want to take. Whatever you do, don't get into the specifics of how many people you're inviting or how you're choosing guests. Keep it vague and loving.


Due to tight limitations on our budget, we've had to be pretty brutal in chopping down our guestlist. I'm so sad that we can't have you there with us on the day, but we look forward to catching up afterwards!
Since we are paying for the wedding ourselves, our budget is very limited. It's SO hard not to go into debt over this, because of course we want to invite everyone… but we're really trying to kick off our marriage by being financially responsible about the wedding.
We would love for you to be there with us, but because of our tight budget, we weren't able to invite as many people as we would have liked. But I'd love to find time for a one-on-one visit afterwards!


We made the difficult choice to keep our wedding pretty intimate, and unfortunately that means there are a lot of friends and family who won't be there on our wedding day. I hope you can understand that it's nothing personal, and respect our wishes to keep our sacred event small.
There are so many people we would love to have been able to invite, but we're trying to keep our wedding small. It means so much to me that you're interested, and I so wish I could have everyone there with us!
Oh, man. We SO wish we could invite everyone… but we made the difficult decision to just keep the wedding very small — mostly just close family.
We're keeping our wedding pretty small, so we're only able to invite our very closest family and friends. This means we just can't invite everyone we'd like, as much as we'd love to. I'm so sorry that we can't extend an invitation.


The venue we've chosen comes with some pretty stringent limitations on the number of guests we can invite. The process of making our guestlist has been really difficult for us, and I hope you can understand that it's nothing personal — let's make plans now to meet up after the wedding!
Our venue has a limited number of people they'll allow, and our guestlist is primarily taken up by very close family and the wedding party. I hope you can understand how difficult this process has been for us — there are so many people we wish could be there with us.
“They're all mad” funny elopement announcement cards.


I strongly discourage the use of white lies but do want to acknowledge that some folks like going this route with distant family or very casual acquaintances.

“While we don't have the guest list finalized yet, we're only planning for our families and closest friends, due to money and space issues.”

Ultimately, remember that no matter how loving or articulate you are, people are entitled to their feelings of disappointment. Try to remember that their disappointment comes from a place of LOVE: they want to be with you on your wedding day! You're not responsible for their disappointment, nor can you control it — all you can do is try your best to be respectful and kind, and make sure they know that you understand how much they care. But then you've got to release it, and get on with your planning.

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Comments on 10 blunt-but-loving ways to tell people they’re not invited to your wedding

  1. Perfect timing for this post! Our invites went out on this week to our 42 guests (significant creep up from our initial goal of 30). We have been really strong in some areas – like informing some of our guests that their partners aren’t invited (because either I or Mr Hooray have yet to meet them).

    But one area I’m struggling with is when you have invited only one member from a group. I have a group of three girlfriends but I’m extremely close to one so only invited her. However, she lives in the same city as the other two women and sees them/ talks to them much more regularly. I feel that to make things easier for her, I should say something to the other two about why we haven’t invited them but don’t know where to start.

    Anyone else been in this boat? Would love to hear what worked for you…

    • This! I expect to have a similar situation with two different groups of friends, both of which, I am super close with some, but not all members, but see all members regularly. The ones I am super close with, I see outside of the collective group activities. If I invite some, I’m worried that the left out (uninvited) will feel badly when we reconvene our regular (collective) get togethers?

  2. This time last year I would have been thankful for this post. We had a relatively small wedding (it was intended to be 100 guests)and in order to keep within numbers we decided not to ‘plus 1’ everyone and not to invite new boyfriends of old friends of my husband (who all knew each other going back some ten years anyway). However, we had a phenomenal amount of regrets, or at least it felt like that to me, (and quite a few who didn’t bother to reply at all), and we had locked ourselves into a number with the venue where we ended up paying for nearly twice the amount of people that were actually there.

    Sometime after I was chatting to a colleague in work and she suggested that perhaps the reason a lot of people did not want to come was because they were not given a plus one. She said she wouldn’t go to a wedding where she couldn’t bring a boyfriend/ guest and to be honest looking back on it I wish I had given those people a plus one because leaving aside the unavoidable regrets we probably would have arrived at about our number anyway and it would have been a lot more of a pleasant experience for myself and my husband.

    Now I am not criticising people’s right to decide who they do and don’t invite to their wedding, but when I saw this post I couldn’t help but comment, don’t be too rigid with the guest list, keep in mind that some people will not be able to come (someone on OBBT told me only 60 -70% of people invited to any event turn up) and try to make it as pleasant an experience for those who can/ do want to come. I say this only from my personal experience.

    • I wouldn’t rely on the 60-70% figure. I had about 100 guests at my wedding, having invited about 100. As far as I can remember we had only one couple decline as they were due to have a baby (far, far away) shortly before the wedding, in fact they announced it while our invitation was in the post.

      You’d need some flexibility in your budget to take this risk I think.

      • I mention this in my book, but the RSVP rate tooootally depends on the wedding. We invited 100 guests — and had 110 show up.

  3. I have to admit that I have not been invited to a wedding recently that I fully intended on being invited to, just based on our friendship, the size of her wedding, me letting her know she’s welcome to come to my wedding, and the fact she was flying from her hometown to the town I’m living in halfway across the country to have her wedding where I know not that many of her local friends can fly out to. Most of my friends end up being really late in sending out invites so I didn’t think anything of it when time passed and her and I kept exchanging wedding planning ideas and I kept telling her I can’t wait to see her when she flies in, but alas, no invite – not even a “come to the after supper party” that doesn’t cost money if you have a cash bar. I did feel offended and hurt, even though I acknowledge it’s her right to invite or not invite who she chooses. And in return, I have taken her off facebook, as is my right. Weddings are tricky like that… it totally is people’s right to be selective and in turn to feel disappointed, and there unfortunately may be such consequences to omitting people, such as them dropping you off their friends list.

    What resonated with me from this experience though, was that for myself, I don’t want anyone to not feel welcome to my wedding and we are having a very open door policy. Some people will get “after-supper invites” from us to help us budget on our catering costs, but an invite nonetheless and a very crasher-friendly zone.

    I say all this fully acknowledging people are entirely entitled to crafting their guest list in any way shape or form that makes them happy and in the end that’s what matters most, even if you have a friend or two defriend you on facebook or real life.

    • Nicci, I had a similar experience to you. A friend of mine from my school days – we have kept in touch having gone to the same college and moved to the same city – recently got married and I was not invited, even to the evening reception. I would not say that I fully expected to be invited, but I thought that perhaps I would be seeing that I had invited her and her now husband, whom I had only met on one occassion, to my wedding some 6 months previous. I was very hurt by this and I have to say it has changed my opinion of her.

      It also changed my opinion on restrictions I made to my own guestlist and I wish I had been more open. I left other friends off my guestlist to accomodate her and I hope they didn’t feel the hurt that I did when I was not invited to her wedding. I am not challenging anyone’s right to decide who they invite to their wedding, but I changed my opinions somewhat being on the other side of the equation so to speak.

    • We are doing much the same. Our Ceremony/Luncheon Reception will be for Family and the closest of friends, around 65 people or so, but we have loads of mutual friends, some of which that have been talking about how much they can’t wait to be there, so we are sending out separate invitations for an ‘After Party’ at our home the night of the wedding. We’re stressing it’s not an additional “reception”, but we still want to have them celebrate the day with us.

  4. Has anyone avoided inviting family to their wedding in order to accomodate for friends?
    I have a very large, extended family, who I know have never understood my offbeat ways, and who I don’t see and don’t like! I would much prefer a wedding surrounded by the family I love and the friends I see everyday who understand the relationship I have with my partner – not spend thousands of dollars on a bar tab and favors for a bunch of relatives I could care less about, and who could care less about me!!

    Any opinion?

    • Katee –

      Be brave: Invite the people you want, and don’t invite the ones you don’t want. It doesn’t matter whether they’re related to you.

      And if you’re worried about being bullyragged about your choices, pick one of the messages Ariel mentions, tailor it to fit, memorize it, and repeat it as needed ad nauseum. 🙂

      Good luck!

      • I cannot agree more – and don’t get stuck in the family politics — I started hearing “if X is invited, I’m not coming” before the DATE was set! I simply told those who made such remarks that we were inviting the people we wanted to have present, and the guests themselves could sort out whether or not they wanted to attend.

    • I have a huge family, and I’m not inviting at least half of them. There’s an annual ‘family day’ and only the people who I see there every year are invited. I think the fact that the uninvited aren’t interested in these family days says enough. Plus, most of them I haven’t even spoken to in years, so I don’t think it’s a problem.
      On the other side, my FMIL expected me to invite her nieces – I’ve never even knew they existed, and FH couldn’t remember their names. They ended up on the guestlist anyway, because it’s not worth it to get into a fight with FMIL.

    • Katee: the monster size of my family is exactly why we are having such a small wedding. I have almost thirty first cousins, all of whom would expect to bring a guest, not to mention all of the aunts and uncles. I am not close with the majority of my extended family, but if I were to invite any of them I would pretty much have to invite all of them to keep the peace in the family. If I were to invite all of them, I would never be able to afford to invite ANY friends, many of whom are close like family members. So, we opted to not invite any extended family on either side and only immediate family and a few close friends. Anyone who is pissed will either get over it or not, but really there was no way to do it without pissing someone off, so we figured we would just piss everyone off instead 🙂

      • YES we did exactly this and it was a lovely day. again, we’re having another, bigger, cheaper-per-head party next year, but the actual wedding was immediate family and 7 friends.

      • Katee – my fiance and I have been working on our guest list recently too. Neither of us are super close to our extended family, and if it were really up to us, we would not invite any of them (except my one aunt who I am close with). Neither of our parents are pushing to invite family which makes things easier too. So in the end – we have decided to invite only aunts and uncles from both sides and no cousins (this cut about 30 people from the list)…we are aware that some of our aunts will likely not come because cousin’s aren’t invited…but since we don’t have a relationship with them anyways – we aren’t going to let that bother us!

    • I had this dilemma as well. I have an Aunt and Uncle that live in the same city I do that I want to invite, however, I have no sort of connection to my other aunts and uncles at all. However, you invite one and you invite them all, so in order to not upset the all important “family order” everyone is getting an invite…for a WEEKDAY WEDDING. I know for certain that they won’t be able to make it, so no one is offended and I get my small wedding.

    • my FH is the youngest of 11 children- both his mother & father had children from previous marriages: we only have active relationships with about 4 of them, 3 i’ve never even met, and the others are only involved with us if we go to them & make the effort, even then sometimes no. given the amount of siblings, his family is GIANORMOUS & our reception venue is limited to 120 people at max capacity- we are not inviting everyone, in fact, we’re not inviting some siblings. we talked a lot about who to & not to invite (some of my family doesn’t get along well & i really don’t have much to do with them) and we ultimately decided that it is our wedding, we will have the people who mean the most to us there- albiet blood family or heart family :)you don’t have to be rude about it, but if someone pointedly asks (like we’ve already had & our wedding is over a year away)i’ve used these two responses respectivly: for people we are NOT inviting “We’re focusing on having a small wedding, as we’re paying for everything ourselves so it’s going to be hard to include everyone.” for people we’re not sure if we can but would like to “We really haven’t got the guest list figured out yet, but i’m glad to know you’re interested in being a part of our big day!”

    • My other half and I have the same problem. I just want to invite more fiends then family to our wedding which is only a guest list of 40. I would much rather be surrounded by people I see all the time and am very close with rather than a family member who I only see once a year at the least and dont really talk to.

    • My family is huge too. My husband and I actually had a live stream at our wedding because a lot of them are out of town. Many family members who we are not as close with opted to live stream. My cousin actually got proposed to by her boyfriend right after watching my wedding on the live stream!

  5. this has been a bit of a help – but maybe you guys can help me too…..

    were having an extremely small destination wedding – about 12 guests will come, and not even family to the reception (it will be an intimate dinner)

    my highschool best friend has always announced that she would be my maid of honour if i ever got married. We have lived in different cities for years, Ive had a child with my partner and settled down, while shes still on the party circuit – we still keep in contact and get together, but we live very different lives.

    while we would like to invite her (not as a bridesmaid – that is my sister in law) we dont know how to approach this. we dont want her to bring her boyfriend either to such a small wedding (whom neither of us have met, and most likely will not be with her for much more than a few months)

    but we dont want to expect her to pay for flights and accommodation, just to be there, and she dosnt know any of the other guests.


    • If she’s a close friend, be honest. Tell her that unfortunately the maid of honor role went to a family member and that you’re not having a big wedding party. I think she’d still be honored to be invited to such an intimate event, though she may see it differently. Tell her who else will be there and explain that because this is so intentionally tiny, you’d rather she not bring a date. (Though if you really want her there and can throw out this concession, do–as others have said, it might make the difference between her coming or not.) If there’s another solo guest who might welcome a roommate, offer to pair them up to cut their costs and help them meet other guests.

      Let her know that she is absolutely welcome but not obligated to come… and then let her make her own decision like the adult she is. If she can’t make it, try to plan a get-together or a trip to her city after the wedding so you can enjoy some special time together.

    • If you want your friend there, invite the boyfriend. As you said, they would be paying for flights and accommodations, and probably using up vacation time. So think of it as a trade off. And, they might not come at all.

  6. I have not yet had anyone uninvited assume they are invited. I’ve actually had the opposite scenario with friends assuming they might not be invited and me saying, “Of course you’ll be there, silly!”

    However, shortly after announcing my engagement I made a Facebook filter for only invited guests and whenever I talk about the wedding publicly, I do it there. This was so worth the 10 minutes it took me to put it together!

    • Can someone (a reader or anyone OBB perhaps) make a quick tutorial of how to do this???? I’m sure it would go a long way to help brides! I’m not too tech savvy…so I thought to ask on here.

      • (Reposted from an OBM thread)
        It’s really easy to create a filter to divide groups of people on your friendslist. Just make a smaller list (or more than one) and assign friends to it.

        You can filter *incoming* content to avoid seeing status updates from your list at large — put your 20 best buds on a list and then use that as your news feed. Put your family members on another list and switch over to that to see what’s up with distant cousins before you head to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving.

        You can also filter *outgoing* content to protect sensitive eyes/ears. I have one list for my older or more distant family members and their friends, for example — my aunt and uncle don’t need to see party photos my friends tagged, or be able to comment on everything my coworkers post on my Wall. If you want, you can even post status updates that are visible only to some people or some list(s). (That’s a quick recipe for drama if you don’t say that right out, though! Let people know that the status is Bridesmaids Only or what-have-you.)

        The UIs in these articles may be outdated, but as far as I know, the features are still available. Read and review!

        At http://www.facebook.com/settings/?tab=privacy, use the Custom settings to block certain lists or individuals from seeing or doing X, Y, or Z on your profile. Also use View As… on your profile page to check, if you’re not sure, whether Mom can see your latest photo album.

  7. A Facebook filter is one way to go, but another is a private event on FB. Only those invited to see that event will see it, not the whole FB world. I am also trying to deal with people who I either have not seen in a long time or those who I know casually who ask what’s new and I say oh well I got engaged, then they say, when’s the wedding and I say, next summer and they say, oh, I could probably make that. They ASSUME they are invited. It’s a long way off so what I am hoping is by the time I get around to sending out the actual invitations like 6 months or more from now, they will have forgotten all about it.

  8. My wedding is in 3 weeks time… eek!

    We had almost 70 family invited first up, both from large Irish families, some of whom announced way before we even thought about a date they wanted to come from overseas. I am also Catholic, so there was no way we could run away so to the church it is.

    We kept a B list and sent them out in order of importance as relatives said they couldn’t make it. Our limit was 100, though we booked tentatively to 120 in case. We came in at 94, with only one couple failing to respond at all. So with the fiance and I, looking at 98 at the most.

    I absolutely HATED people continually asking if they were invited, I brushed most of it off with the “we’re concentrating on family, then we’ll think about friends”. Now we’re 3 weeks out, we’re going with “If you were not invited, please don’t be offended. We had to make some hard choices between family and friends, as well as keeping numbers reasonable. You are more than welcome to come celebrate with us at the Church!!”.

    So everyone is welcome to come to the church and celebrate with us, just the reception that is invite only.

    Aside from people asking if they could come, it was people who were invited asking if they could bring their bf’s/gf’s we’ve never even met, because they knew x,y,z friend couldn’t make it and figure their partner could have their spot :|. Fiance approved them before I could say no, in the end, thankfully it worked out that we haven’t gone over or I’d really be angry…

  9. I was using the tight budget response when people were trying to invite themselves and every other person in the entire world that they know, but I actually had to stop using it because everyone I said it to responded with “well, we/he/she just won’t eat anything!” Gah!

    • exactly why Miss Manners advises “guest list first, what to feed them second.”

  10. I was a little surprised at the few people who bluntly asked if they would be invited to our wedding. I know how expensive (and emotionally charged) a wedding can be so I would never put a friend or family member in the position of having to defend their choice or budget just to soothe my hurt feelings. For my own I just simply stated that since my family was so large and my husband’s family rather small that we decided to keep it small so it didn’t end up being all about my side. Anyone who protested further was then also told that if I didn’t invite my last living grandparent I wasn’t going to invite a cousin or a friend I didn’t regularly spend time with. That seemed to make the few people who were really pushing for an explanation realize that maybe they were being a little insensitive. Please don’t read this thinking I wasn’t touched that family and friends I didn’t really think I was close to wanted to celebrate with us but I felt that the day needed to be about my husband and I and not everyone else.

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