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. It’s an interesting situation to not be invited. I am finding myself on this list. Here is the scoop:
    Been dating my sweetheart for a year and we have recently moved in together;
    When I moved in, I had my bedroom set that I didn’t want to store so I ended up asking his daughter if she wanted it…she got a $3k set for free (really, there are no strings attached);
    Daughter invited me to her bridal shower;
    Daughter handed me a separate invitation from my sweetheart’s invitation;
    Sweetheart’s invitation was for him and his son as his plus one;
    My invitation was couple with the bridal shower (see above), and I was invited to the wedding;
    I found out just last week that I was ONLY invited to the shower and the wedding – I was not invited to the reception;
    If I would like to attend the reception, I can pay $50.
    Daughter invited sweetheart’s ex-girlfriend from three years ago to wedding and reception.

    Honestly, I just don’t know what to do. Do I go to the wedding at all? Do I get a gift? I couldn’t attend the bridal shower because I was out of town celebrating my 50th birthday, so I haven’t gotten a gift yet. Do I get her a gift? Or, do I pay my $50 for rubber chicken dinner and let her know that I spent her gift money on my dinner? Or, do I just not go to any of it? I really don’t know what to do. I understand that this is her big day – I get that. But does that excuse bad behavior? What’s sad, I guess, is that her dad and I were planning on jointly purchasing a honeymoon cruise for them. Right now, I don’t plan to pay one cent toward that. I guess I’m hurt to know that I’m good enough to give her a gift, but I’m not good enough to be invited to the reception. UGH! 🙁

    • Could it be that she was very close to the ex-girlfriend and remains close? Regardless of whether she’s being intentionaly hurtful or not, I would think the bottom line is how your sweetheart feels. If it’s important to him that you be there, and his feelings are important to you, suck it up and go to all and give her the benefit of the doubt and be an example of graciousness. Ultimately, the day isn’t about you or the ex-girlfriend. Oh, I see your comment was months ago, but just in case the wedding hasn’t happened yet, I’ll leave my reply. Best wishes.

  2. My fiancee and i are contemplating a tiny ceremony in 2 months and we want to have parents grandparents and siblings there but is there a way to say no to siblings spouses and kids? i love them all but i honestly just want it to be tiny ….

  3. But how do you tell one of your oldest friends they’re not invited because they create drama, and are currently the cause of problems with four people in the bridal party. This person has created scenes at my parties before.

  4. We’re in an awkward spot I haven’t seen addressed anywhere. Sure, we have *some* venue limitations, but the reality is, we’re inviting a pretty nice size group of friends and family ranging from lifelong relationships to newly formed friendships.

    Our problem is we have a friend we feel we’ve “fallen out of friendship” with. Yet she seems hellbent on being included, including posting on Facebook about how excited she is that we can get married now (marriage equality was a long time coming in our state). She’s and oversharer on social media, quick to hold a grudge and, had we sent her a save-the-date, would have immediately photographed it and posted it, talking about how excited she was for the wedding.

    Even as I type this, I feel silly for feeling held emotionally hostage about this decision. Yet I do. She’s going to see photos posted from our wedding, know she wasn’t included, see that a lot of people she knows were … and I just keep dreading it when I think of it.

    Do I address this with her ahead of time, or should I just quit letting this consume me and do nothing unless/until … ?

  5. Funny, I just asked a co-worker the other day “how her wedding planning is going” and she replied “its good, we are keeping the wedding small.” LOL, I was just asking how you are doing not asking if I am getting an invitation, Jeez, I understand not being able to invite everyone, my spouse had a ton of family invited to my wedding. Be careful, how you answer people’s question, sometimes people are JUST asking how you are doing or how are things going! Not because they are expecting an invitation.

  6. Okay so I tried to include the gist of this in our announcements…. [our “invitations” were basically an invite to a FB planning group, since everyone coming would be participating in costumes and food and whatnot]. Anyways, I put some fancy wording about keeping it small and since we chose a date near the holidays, and because of that, there was massive confusion with pretty much all the parental aged folks. “We didn’t even know you were getting married, we didn’t know what you meant by ‘commitment ceremony.'” Since we also are both fairly secular and [obviously] offbeat, I tried to avoid traditional matrimony language and phrases…. and it turns out that backfired for us!

  7. Thank you so much! I found a few of these to be super helpful. My mom suddenly passed away earlier this year. At the funeral, many distant friends and relatives heard about my upcoming wedding and told me they couldn’t wait to go. And I had never even discussed the wedding with them. Our guest list was getting way too big because we were feeling obligated to invite all of those people. Finally we decided to do what we originally wanted, a small wedding with only immediate family and and a couple of close friends. Now that I am sending invites out, there are many people who are expecting invites. These examples are going to be very helpful.

  8. Question on a somewhat related topic- I am adopted, but I have a relationship with both my biological mother’s family & my biological father’s family. I did not invite any of them to my wedding (except for my half brother), because I felt it would make my mom uncomfortable (my dad passed away 2 weeks before our wedding): QUESTION IS: As I do have a good relationship with both sides, I would like to send them DVD copies of the wedding so they can see it & share with their respective families A) is that rude? I certainly don’t want to make them feel bad. And they seemed receptive when I tested the waters in conversation about it B) Our thank you cards were preprinted with photos which I want them to have, but they definitely say ‘Thank you’ in big print at the top- can I use them or is that also rude? Finally C) Would it be ok to use a modified version of one of these responses for the reason they weren’t invited? I love them all & I don’t want to offend them by saying “Sorry I didn’t invite you because my mom is uncomfortable with you.” Thanks, Tribe Ladies! <3

  9. I have a question! I’ve known a set of twins for about four years. I’m friends with the girl and not the boy. I never see him, but I heard he was selling an office chair and wanted to buy it. I went over to his and his twin’s apartment, and he asked me a question about the save the date. I sent it only addressed to her–I had actually totally forgotten about him living there at the time of sending it–but to my answer of his question he exclaimed, “Oh hurray! I can make it to the wedding!”
    He probably thinks I’m inviting all of this huge group from college that he is linked to, but I’m not. I feel unsure about how to deal because it is a relatively big wedding, but I don’t know him. We’re very casual acquaintances. Should I just change their invitation to match the etiquette of “invite the whole group” thing?

  10. After reading most of these responses I am feeling more confident about cutting the people I was hesitant about from our guest list. My fiancee and I are aiming to have 75 guests at our wedding, and we have done a good job about narrowing down our guest list thus far, but there are a few of my friends from college that I am nervous about not inviting because I know they will be very upset and confrontational. One friend in particular (and I hesitate to even call them a friend because we have grown apart so much and have barely talked in 2 years!) is extremely needy, disruptive, and truly becomes a terrible person when they consume any alcohol. I HATE confrontation but I know that I really shouldn’t invite this person because they will cause me MORE stress on my wedding day…
    I have a few additional friends who I would really love to invite but we just are not that close enough for them to make the cut for our small wedding. Reading these posts definitely eases my stress about not inviting people – I just need reassurance that I am making the right decision!

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