What to do when an uninvited guest RSVPs for the wedding you didn’t invite them to attend

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Photo by Erika Szostak

So, we've talked about How to tell your guests they don't get a +1. We've gone over 10 blunt-but-loving ways to tell people they're not invited to your wedding. But what happens when a non-guest takes it a step further, and actually RSVPs to your wedding? You know, the wedding you never invited them to. What happens then?

First: don't dodge

Clearly, there's been a misunderstanding. There are very few people who are rude enough that they bully their way into your wedding by RSVPing when they weren't invited. Not saying that there aren't folks like that, of course — but chances are pretty good that somehow this person really did think they were invited, likely because of something a family member or friend said to them.

The worst thing you can do when there's been a misunderstanding is propagate it by not being up-front in how you deal with it. Yes, it's going to suck, but you can't put it off. When you hear from Aunt Madge that she's coming to the wedding you didn't invite her to, you need to address the situation quickly and directly. Don't put it off, and don't use platitudes.

Second: stand your ground

Be genuine, but be firm. Here's an example of something you could say:

Oh, no! I'm so sorry: there's clearly been a miscommunication. Due to budget/venue size/whatever limitations, we're keeping the guestlist quite small. This means we just can't invite everyone we'd like, as much as we'd love to — we do not have room for you on the guestlist. I'm so terribly sorry that we can't extend an invitation, and even more sorry about this miscommunication. I hope you can understand.”

You can also try genuinely expressing your surprise. Own up the awkwardness of the situation, while also standing firm: THIS IS NOT HAPPENING.

Oh my goodness, this is catching me off-guard! This is awkward and difficult, and I'm so sorry to have to say this, but we don't have space on our limited guestlist for all the family and friends we'd love to have there — we aren't able to invite you to the wedding. I'm so sorry — I feel just awful about this situation, and I wish there's something I could do, but the venue size/catering arrangements/whatever are fixed, and I'm afraid it's just not going to work. I hope you can understand.

Third: be gracious and appreciative

Remember that these people want to come to your wedding because, well, THEY PROBABLY LOVE YOU. Sure, sometimes there are weird family power dynamics at play that have nothing to do with you, but ultimately, these people are people who care about you — and who presumably you care about, too. (Otherwise, you'd just say “Fuck off, you weren't invited.”)

Find as many ways as possible to be loving, appreciative, and gracious in your conversation. Repeating, “It means so much to both of us that you want to be at the wedding” and “It's so disappointing that this won't work out — I'm so glad you got in touch” can go a long way towards softening the blow of what boils down to, “You can't come.”

For those of you who dealt with this kind of thing, how did you handle it? Copy ‘n' paste responses are especially useful!

Comments on What to do when an uninvited guest RSVPs for the wedding you didn’t invite them to attend

  1. This situation is awkward. When this happened at my wedding it was an aunt I was quite close to during my childhood but with whom there has been very little contact in the past 15 years or so. Once I found out she was coming to the city for the wedding, I just made room for her: our catering made it easy to adjust guest numbers up to a few days before the wedding and it wasn’t worth hurting her feelings or the awkward situation. She wasn’t able to travel due to health reasons and cancelled with enough notice. I’m glad I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

  2. I really don’t understand why people who don’t know a couple well enough to have an idea of their plans angle to get invited to a wedding. I’ve had someone people me in an exceptionally awkward position with this recently and have had it mentioned to me that I shouldn’t so much as mention that I’m getting married to someone unless I’m planning to invite them. o.O

    Thank you, Ariel, for posting this, I have a feeling I’m going to have to start using some of this advice soon.

    • Seriously! And as for that, how do you mention you’re getting married to someone who isn’t invited? Or how do you talk about it if they see the ring on your finger and bring it up?

      • I’ve chosen to not bring up the fact that I’m getting married to people who aren’t invited. When they bring it up, I’m vague. “Yeah, we’re getting married in the fall. It’s been difficult to keep the numbers down with my huge family.” So far, no one has invited themselves.

        • I’m still doing this. My current line is “Oh, some time in 2016, we’re moving house at the end of the year so I’m focusing on that right now.” It’s not a lie, but also doesn’t give them the exact date (which, to be fair, is only provisional right now anyway).

    • While I don’t think it’s great behavior, I do understand it: weddings are celebratory community events, and people love to be involved and included in the good times.

      There’s also the dynamic of weddings being used as a form of family reunion, and so even if you haven’t talked to Aunt Maggie for 10 years, she wants to be there to see your Uncle Martin.

      Again, I’m not saying it excuses people inviting themselves to weddings — but I totally understand why it happens.

      • My fiance and I actually JUST talked about this, like 45 minutes ago, and I’m glad someone else understands this dynamic. We’re trying to keep our guest list small-ish, for several reasons including the budget (we’re paying on all our own BTW). He started naming off people he hasn’t seen in 10+ years, who I’ve never met, whose last names he can’t even remember… and their kids (wait, I THINK they have a kid, a boy I think, he’d probably be 8 by now, or maybe it’s 12… just put down plus 2). When I questioned why he wanted them there, he told me it was because he was close with them when he was younger, and/or because they’re family. So now I have a total of 5 people on our guest list, and so far he has 98… half of whom I don’t know, never met, never even HEARD of, and another third whose last names he’s long forgotten, and whose full names and addresses (and possibly gender and relation, too??) he’ll have to ask around to find out. Then he says “Well Baby, you have to understand that this won’t just be our wedding, it’ll also be a family get-together”. And, well, in a way, yes… but… NO!! If everyone in his 200+ person family wants to have a reunion and get-together, fine – they can have a big BBQ and invite whomever they want. They do it quite frequently anyway. But if that is the only thing he, and everyone else, expects to get out of our special day, I’ll skip the invitations and centerpieces and flowers and cake and fancy white dress and save us a few thousand dollars! Weddings are in a way also family gatherings, but they should be first and foremost a celebration of two people getting married. If the only reason you’re inviting great-aunt Marge (twice-removed by marriage) is so she can see your second cousin Jim, or just having your your third cousin Pam come because you know your grandpa Stu is going to want to see her (and he hasn’t since she was in diapers, you know), or considering inviting that one tall guy that you really don’t even know (although he probably doesn’t know you’re engaged and might not even care) just because he’s at EVERY family get-together… well that isn’t fair, to your budget OR the specialness of the event. If you can’t remember when the last time was you that spoke to a certain person, or how exactly they’re related to you, or have to dig up their basic information from another distant relative, or question how much they really mean to you (or ALL of the above!), chances are good that they should probably be left off the list. I feel really strongly about this issue because there are quite a few “avid talkers” in his family, and I’m REALLY afraid there will be a hoard of uninvited guests that show up to our wedding. Not just RSVP to a non-existent invitation, or expect to be invited and be hurt when they’re not, but actually SHOW UP, having gotten the date/time/location from someone else (who will not even think twice about giving it out to anyone who asks, because they all openly, stubbornly, rather selfishly buy in to that “it’s just another family-gathering” dynamic!) and we’ll just be up shit creek without a paddle. The people you invite should be there to see YOU get married and share in your big day. Getting to see everyone else in attendance is just a nice, incidental perk.

        • I realized all the sudden that this post kind of makes it seem like I’m blatantly disregarding my fiance and his family traditions and his wishes for the wedding, which is not at all my intention. So let me just add here that keeping the wedding small was entirely his idea… I only have, at max, 12 people I even COULD invite. He however is paying for it entirely himself (I have medical conditions that prevent me from working) so we can’t realistically afford more than maybe 60 people on our budget – as per his own calculations and request. A year and a half ago when we first started planning (before we really told anyone), he was very specific about this, especially since he isn’t truly close with many of his distant relatives, only sees the majority of his very large family at family gatherings, and is not even on friendly terms with at least 12 people on guest list because of their past behavior and/or rude/judgmental/argumentative/hurtful personalities. The problem here is his family, particularly his mom and grandma, who – although he himself cannot stand – he can’t ever stand up to or say no to. So now he’s just come to terms with, so to speak, the idea of our wedding being another big family “get-together” because he doesn’t want to argue over (and have to enforce) it being any other way. And, oh dear Lord, we haven’t even gotten around to the part where we tell his mom we can’t afford for HER to invite anyone!

          • I really wish you the best of luck with this challenge! I think if you try really hard to be calm and reasonable and get him to remember what he wanted to begin with and that you really don’t have any other choice than to keep it small, hopefully it will be ok. And hopefully it will be easier not to invite most of them just to avoid the- well you invited him so you have to invite x,y,z.. so it would be easier to just not invite any of them!
            Maybe you can help with some ideas of getting together a family reunion a little later on after the wedding, and they can celebrate your wedding a bit then, but keep the first one small… maybe if you can put it forward as a small ceremony and dinner for close family and friends since that’s all you can afford, and consider a family reunion/wedding shindig another time, maybe that would satisfy them? They can still think they’re celebrating your wedding even though you know it’s just a family reunion just to appease them and keep them away from your wedding? 🙂 You could even send out invites before or the same time as the ‘real’ wedding invites and make them feel included, even though they’re not invited to the intimate ceremony and dinner…

          • Oh it’s so tricky when there are big families involved…we’ve given up and said we’re going away but even that has problems. The plan was to invite my parents (his are both deceased) and my brother and his GF, and was talking to my mum about how we’re trying to think of ways to only invite my boyfriend’s favourite two sisters (he’s one of seven children and because of the big spread of ages is not very close to the other siblings) without putting the others’ noses out of joint as the costs would skyrocket when my mum said ‘well I don’t see why they should get upset, it’s not like any of MY lot are coming!’.

            Um…that’s because YOUR lot went to YOUR wedding, mum. Everyone thinks it’s about them and their feelings, sod what the bride and groom want.

        • I don’t know if this will help, but when my husband and I got married we set a rule in place designed to keep the numbers down.

          This is the rule: “If they’re friends, and we haven’t spoken to them in a year, they’re not coming. If they’re family, and we haven’t spoken to them in two years, they’re not coming either.”

          It worked for us because I have a massive family who don’t talk to me, because we have nothing in common, but expected to come to the wedding because they want to see my grandma, or something? I actually had one great-aunt ring up my mum to complain that she hadn’t been invited. I hadn’t seen her since I was nine! But it was helpful because we clearly explained the rule to our parents and then in situations like that, they could stick with plaitudes or, like my mum did, ask my great-aunt if she knew how old I was, or what my husband’s name is (she didn’t know either!).

          This also helps to keep down numbers on old family friends (who only speak to your parents), and people who invited you to their wedding when you were six so now you feel obliged to invite them.

          Good luck with your planning!

          • Your mum is COOL 😀

            I think that sentence should be compulsory for all parents!! “How old is s/he” and “what’s the name of the other person marrying that day” can be a big filter when dealing with big families (and complaining relatives).

          • Your mum is deffinitely cool :-). It is my mom who goeas around telling people about the wedding five months ahead and when I tried to finalize the guest list (our hotel capacity is 200) she threw a fit saying this is the only wedding in the fsmily, if your dad’s aunt is invited why isn’t mine and they have helped you even if you don’t know….. AND she gave her own list with 278 guests!!! I really don’t understand how mothers could be so selfish!

          • I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to eliminate relatives I haven’t seen in ages from my guest list and this is perfect. I also commend your mom for sticking with you on this. I only hope my mother will be just as understanding. She has 8 siblings with very large families of their own.

        • Oh my goodness, this sounds so much like my fiancé’s family! I never even thought about this until after reading your post! I hope your chaos is minimal. Good luck!

        • Thank you so much for your post. This is my second marriage and I was thinking about inviting ppl in my family I didn’t invite the first time and make it a reunionish event but you are right! If I want to have a reunion, plan a damn reunion, don’t invite ppl I don’t genuinely want to be there to support us and our marriage.

        • I’m having a very, very similiar problem. I have a small family-less than 5 people; coupled with the friends I invited, I have a total of 8 guests. My fiance, on the other hand, between friends and family (mostly family), has a total of 57 confirmed guests so far (we’re still waiting to hear back from some of cousins he invited). Even though we had initially agreed to keep it small, mostly for budget reasons, it’s quickly spiraling out of control into more than I can handle! He has 4 sibilings, and all but one have kids of their own. He also insisted on inviting all of his cousins, 9 total, who also almost all have kids, even though he hasn’t seen or spoken with some of them in years. Just on and on. He told me that his family has a tendency to treat weddings as family reunions, so he he realized that he couldn’t possibly not invite all of the family members that he did. I’m sorry, but I don’t really think that’s fair. Even worse, because we’re having it at his folks’ vacation house outdoors in the country, people really are treating it like a casual, family reunion BBQ. Yes, we want it to be a relaxed and fun time for all, but at the same time, it’s still our WEDDING, and I think there’s a certain level of respect and formality that goes with the occasion, and people seem to be missing that point, or ignoring it blantantly (his mother even went so far as to tell relatives that they could show up in t-shirts and jeans if they wanted!). I could not agree more with what you said; if you want to have a family reunion, that’s wonderful, and I’m all for it, but our wedding is not to be used for such a gathering. I’m also fully expecting uninvited folks to actually show up as well, and since we’re setting this up and paying for it all ourselves, I’m really starting to be consumed with dread. I realize it’s just one day, but like I said earlier, it’s turning into more than I can handle, both emotionally and financially. I would’ve been happy to just marry at City Hall and grab a bite to eat with a few close friends and family members afterwards-far less stressful AND expensive! Don’t get me wrong-I love his family dearly, I do. I love the idea of marrying into such a large extended clan. My fiance is the one who initially expressed the desire for a small wedding, and I just wish we could’ve stuck to that idea, that’s all. Thanks for letting me rant-I definitely feel a lot better knowing that other folks out there understand!

        • Oh man, this hits home hard for me. My finance and I talked about weddings and both agreed we like simple, low key, outdoor (read: cheap) weddings. Then he proposed and mentioned that we should start making a guest list. My list contained our immediate family and shared best friends (about 45 people total). His contained all of our extended family (53 people on my side and 49 on his), so about 150 people. There is no way to cut down that 100+ extended family, because it is literally aunts, uncles and first cousins (as well as their wives/husbands/kids).

          I like my extended family (for the most part), but I’m not close to them. We see each other about once every year or two. He’s admitted he’s not close to his extended family either, but since his parents have offered many times to let us use their gorgeous lakeside property as a venue, he feels it would be unfair to not let them have the whole family there (which is what they want). I’d love to compromise by having some family there, but there is no way to cut down the list : everyone is a direct aunt or uncle or cousin. I also can’t not invite people to part of the wedding, as some have suggested, since the whole thing is happening in a backyard.

          Also our budget is ridiculously small. So I can either host a party I can afford with the people who love me, or put in an insane amount of work to try and host a giant family reunion for people I don’t know very well on 5K. Also half of my family can’t speak the language that his family speaks, so it’s not even a meeting of the families, just a bunch of family members talking to each other in their respective groups. More than the money, it’s the dynamic that bothers me. I want this to be an awesome celebration of love and our relationship, not a meet and greet of strangers or a family reunion. I don’t know what to do at this point 🙁

          Edited to add: oh and some of his extended family have already assumed they are coming and invited themselves via Facebook. (actual message on our engaged post: Congratulations! When/where are you having the wedding? We’ll be there.)

        • My extended family is HUGE and, yes, I ACTUALLY am very close with 95% of them and love them all. They want to help me celebrate my special day and I want them there to do so. But I know budget (and probably a destination venue) will be prohibitive to inviting all those people that I love. Just a suggestion(s) for you to consider.

          Keep the ceremony small. Only have your small handful of immediate family & friend-made family (can frammade become a thing? I like that more than framily?) to attend the ceremony. Then invite more people to the reception OR, continue to have a small reception.

          Later on (a few weeks, couple months, whatever timing works best for you), have that big family get-together sans flowers, centerpieces, expensive DJ and photographer, etc… Make it a potluck if its too expensive to cater. It will give the ‘family reunion’ type people the chance to see you and each other and help extended family feel as though they got to help you celebrate your marriage.

          I hope the suggestion helps!

          • My niece got married in her parent’s home, with the bride and groom, best man and matron of honor, her parents, his parents, her grandparents, his grandmother, and her sister and brother. That was it…
            The reception immediately following was at the church, attended by about 250 people who all brought food and gifts and flowers and really celebrated.
            My brother in law married them (since he’s the pastor of that church). Coolest wedding EVER, since I didn’t have to sit through the ceremony, just got to celebrate.

            I am engaged now, and would prefer to elope, but that would hurt his parent’s feelings. We are going to have a very small wedding, with his parents, probably my brother in law, my daughter and granddaughter, my mother, and maybe his son, and whoever his best man is (my daughter will be my matron of honor). He has a HUGE extended family, but isn’t close to most of them, and can’t invite the few he is close to without insulting the rest. I am the oldest of six kids, but since we aren’t planning to invite his family, I don’t feel like I should invite mine.

            I have a relative who will probably invite herself… And I will have to tell her no. NOT looking forward to that LOL

        • If this is how you’re feeling, you really need to reevaluate. If he can’t understand and compromise, I think you have to have a serious discussion about where you guys are heading…

      • I’m sorry but a wedding is most definitely not a family reunion, and shouldn’t be treated as such by anyone! Yes it’s nice to see family and friends that you may have grown apart from over the years… But the focus of the day should be the bride and groom. Period!

  3. Maybe I’m a terrible person, but I just put it simply and bluntly. No, sorry, we didn’t invite you. I really do apologize for the miscommunication, but we are keeping it very small for personal reasons. We would like to see you at the reception though!

    • That’s not terrible at all. I think it causes more trouble when people A) try to be so nice that they don’t communicate clearly, contributing to miscommunications or B) resentfully acquiesce. Being blunt and standing your ground is in NO WAY terrible.

      I especially love your language around “we’re keeping it small for personal reasons.”

      • I have a similar issue with my cousins. I have 5 by my dad’s late elder sister, and 2 by his younger sister. The 2 by my younger aunt are fine. They know how to behave at social events. However I have only invited one cousin on my other aunt’s side, and the other 4 have demanded they are invited.

        I’m not pussyfooting around with them – I have told them extremely bluntly that I don’t want them there because of how they behave. They let the whole family down at gatherings. Two get drunk and air their grievances by fighting and arguing; one often brings drugs. The last makes no efforts to stay in touch with the rest of the family but expects to come to every social function, bringing extra (uninvited) guests, or her children to an adults’ only event.

        It is a shame I have had to go down this mega-blunt route, as other members of both mine and my FW’s family have been very understanding that we cannot accommodate all and sundry on our big day.

        (Yes, I’m a bloke writing on a bridal blog!)

    • I’m not sure if someone else already said this, but I don’t think it is considered proper to invite someone to the reception and not the wedding. The two are linked, and if there is room for them at the reception, there should be room at the wedding, right?
      Also, as far as showers go, you aren’t required to invite everyone from a shower to your wedding, depending on circumstances. Obviously if your best friend throws you a shower, she probably isn’t inviting people you aren’t close to so they should all be invited to the wedding. But if your mom or grandma or work throws you a shower, they might invite some of their friends, which you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite to the wedding. And your coworkers should know that just because they throw you a work shower doesn’t mean they are all coming to your wedding. Just my opinion though.

      • I don’t think it is considered proper to invite someone to the reception and not the wedding.

        Untrue. For some folks, ceremony and reception invitations are completely separate. For instance, some people want a very intimate family ceremony, but love having everyone else with them at the reception.

        • Agreed, but my experience is reversed. In my social circles it’s quite common to invite people to the ceremony but NOT the reception. The reception is the expensive bit, while the ceremony is the important bit. Most people are quite understanding about not being invited to the reception but pleased to be thought of to be issued an invitation to the ceremony.

        • In the UK it is very common to have a smaller number at the ceremony and dinner and then a lot more come along afterwards for the drinking and dancing. That’s what we will be doing xox

          • I completely agree with this. I am American but moved to London three years ago and am engaged to a Londoner. We have a very close community of friends who are more like family, and my fiance is not very close with his folks, and has a very small family so we are having more friends than relatives. Luckily, we are getting married here in London, and my huge family is obviously not flying to the UK so I can dodge that bullet of not inviting the second and third cousins of my father’s, etc. which I know would happen if we got married in America. We are paying for everything mostly ourselves, and my father was completely shocked at us not having more than 30 people to our ceremony (in the art deco registry office) and not paying for a sit-down dinner for our 100+ guests to our drinks reception we invited. We simply cannot afford to have a dinner as well. My fiance is inviting people left and right to try to avoid offending people who are in our ‘circle,’ even though I haven’t even met or properly spoken with them more than once or twice, and some of them become extremely obnoxious when they get trashed. How can I get my fiance to realise that this is not a piss up with mates–it’s our WEDDING and our parents will be there…?

        • We are inviting more people to our ceremony and less to the reception (our reception venue is little). No one complained, at least not to us!

      • Actually, people often times invite people to the reception, but not the wedding. But that is where the biggest expense is — the reception. That is where they are having to feed everyone, provide beverages, the wedding cake, etc.

        The last thing ANY couple should be doing is starting off their marriage in debt, especially in order to provide a “family reunion” for distant family relatives they haven’t seen in years or can’t even remember very well. Unless the parents are paying for everything related to the wedding and the reception, it is up to the bride and groom to set the rules. If you do not want children there, make that clear. If you are only inviting a certain number, agree on the number and then stick to it. Don’t allow anyone to guilt you into “adding just one more” because by the time everyone is done, you will have added “just 50 more”.

        I like some of the suggestions I read above: Asking “Do you know how old s/he is, and who their spouse will be?” I also like the “if they are friends you haven’t seen or been in in contact with in a year, or relatives you haven’t seen or been in touch with in two years, they don’t need to be invited.” You can always send out announcements after the wedding, or even host a bbq later in the year to invite everyone who weren’t able to invite to the wedding and/or reception.

      • I don’t like the idea that some things are “proper” at weddings and some aren’t. It’s your day, you should have the people there who you want.

      • This varies quite a bit by location and culture. There’s a large Portuguese population near me and ALL of their weddings have tiered invitations. Some people are invited to the ceremony, some to the dinner, some to JUST the dance after dinner, some to all three. It’s not considered rude- it’s just what’s normal for them. It’s also very common in the UK.

        In my family it’s so common for people to just not get their butts out of bed in time for the ceremony that some of my cousins have taken to having private ceremonies and only invite people to the reception. This is why “wedding etiquette” is mostly bull– it is written for a very specific group of people and ignores the vast variety of folks who live in the US.

      • I know this is horribly old as it was dated 3 years ago – I just wanted to say that it is not rude at all to have separate lists for wedding and reception.
        Recently I just experienced something like this as a guest/officiant to a friends wedding; I performed the ceremony for a friend from college and was invited to the cocktail hour but not the reception as they wanted to have that be more intimate and family oriented, I wasn’t the least bit put out and neither was any of the guests I mingled with at the cocktail hour.
        Which it lasted for two and a half hours because it did share a time slot with the reception and allowed the Bride and Groom to sneak over and take pictures with everyone who couldn’t come to the dinner. Which was much shorter – Sadly I couldn’t stay for the big after party that had all the dancing and co-mingling of some family and friends.

        • That’s what my boo and I are doing too. Our wedding venue is literally a circular clearing in some trees at my parents house. (we’re Pagan… sooo it works well for us) There is only space for us and the 8 people that are invited to the ceremony. Even with all 10 of us it might get a little tight. My large extended family? Come for food and drinks and a bon fire. I didn’t want to give up my dream wedding venue for the sake of extended family and friends. And quite frankly, if they have issue with it, they can f the f off.

  4. I wish I had this inspirational STAND YOUR GROUND email a few months ago!! I got literally backed into a wall by a periphery acquaintance of my fiance at a party about a wedding invitation – then a barrage of texts to my fiance when she didn’t get a save the date…until I caved and sent one. I found out yesterday that she and her husband had no intention of coming but just wanted to feel included. The nasty bitch in me wants her official invitation to be lost in the mail – but – I will probably still send an invite and bite my tongue the next time we see them and she makes a big deal about wishing she didn’t have to miss the wedding. its probably the only thing about wedding planning that has pissed me off…the ONE thing. i’ll let it go but i reserve the right to be pissed off for a day or two. this post just reminds me how i should have grown a pair…

    • “I found out yesterday that she and her husband had no intention of coming but just wanted to feel included.”

      Is there a name for this – someone wanting an invite even though everyone knows they’re not coming?

      I had a great-aunt who I had seen in person maybe 2-3 times in my life, so she wasn’t going to make the cut for our small guest list anyway, and on top of that I KNEW she had other plans, so I didn’t send one of my (home-made, time-consuming) invite packages.

      THEN I hear through the family grapevine that she was hurt she didn’t get an invite. Did she want to come? Nope, she just wanted to be invited. (The icing? She didn’t even send the RSVP card back.)

      • “”I found out yesterday that she and her husband had no intention of coming but just wanted to feel included.”

        Is there a name for this – someone wanting an invite even though everyone knows they’re not coming?”

        Personally, if I knew that that was where they stood in advance maybe I’d have a few wedding announcement cards printed (not an invitation or save the date) and just send them one of those.

        • This is my plan. I’ve seen too many family weddings on my Dad’s (huge!) side ruined by drunken fist fights and “he-said-she-said” to risk a 400 person bash. So, we’re planning a small wedding and two small receptions (we live in NY, but I’m from OH), with the rest of the extended and/or problematic family getting DIY announcement cards. That way, they’re as included as we can reasonably afford, both financially and emotionally.

      • We sent one to a few relatives who we knew couldn’t come, but who we wanted to feel included anyways. For my great aunt and uncle, I was positively devastated that circumstances meant they wouldn’t be there, so I wrote them a personal letter to include in the invitation, stating the meaning behind sending the invite (That it signified my wish that they could be there), and telling them just how much they’d meant to me.

      • I don’t know if it helped much, but in our case our invitations doubled as wedding announcements, the difference was that the invitations had a small card attached that stated the time and place and other details relevant for those invited. To the rest of the family we just mailed the announcement, and if they had sent a gift or something similar, a handwritten thank you note.

      • I didn’t invite my god sister, her husband and their kids because I KNEW she was going to be induced that same time period. She hasn’t talked to me since… And that was in 2011. I even tried to explain but she just wasn’t having it.

        • Oh im sorry. I always invite those who I know cant come. If you would invite them not knowing they cant come…. then they should still get an invitation. Have you tried telling her that you assumed she couldnt come and testament you didnt send an invite? Im sure she just feels very hurt by not getting an invite.

  5. I had a similar situation, but this uninvited full-on crashed the wedding. While at first I was a little bit peeved, I quickly changed my mind– there were 5 people who RSVP’s who never showed up (at $90/plate + open bar). My thoughts were “well, if he cared about this event enough to show up & 5 people didnt, F-it! Eat, drink, & be merry! & bring your friends!”
    There are going to be a number of people who dont show to your wedding even though they RSVP… Perhaps an unconventional way to dodge the sticky conversation is to not have assigned seating? Then again I avoid confrontation at any cost… so I’m little-no help!

    I’m a wedding videographer & recently shot a wedding where 12 PEOPLE didnt show for a $200/plate reception dinner. I think that if people are inconsiderate enough to not show at the expense of the bride & groom, by all means, let someone who genuinely cares enjoy your day with you!
    Good luck with my offbeat advice!

    • Bless your ability to turn a negative into a positive!
      I think that’s a really healthy way to look at it. If someone full-on crashes and someone else full-on flaked out, you can bet that the person filling the seat will be MUCH MORE FUN than the empty seat.

    • We had some crashers at our wedding, and one of the guys who did crash has become a very close friend. I’m so glad he was there.

  6. Thanks so much for posting this! I’m smack in the middle of starting a guest list and I’m already getting the “oh, but you HAVE to invite aunt so-and-so” from my parents. Despite the fact that we’re limiting the guest list to 60 people and I haven’t talked to my aunt in quite some time (not to mention how incredibly awkward she makes me feel). I get the feeling this advice is going to come in handy very soon in addressing her non-existant invitation.

    • My mom and my fiance’s mom have been doing this to us with some elderly relatives who we know for a fact aren’t going to show up. We handled it in two ways- for my mom’s elderly relative who lives really far away and isn’t going to come anyway, we’re sending her a “gimme” invitation (fully expecting her not to show up as she can’t actually travel). With other people I haven’t actually met, I flat out told my mother “no”. It’s your wedding, not your parents’ wedding (they do make you feel super awkward though).

      For some other people (his estranged step sister and her kids, a great aunt), my fiance’s parents are throwing a post wedding party the week after our wedding, and inviting all the people/family we’re not planning to invite.
      not sure if that kind of thing is in anyone else’s budget, but it seemed like a pretty good solution to people who think they should come on account of being family, but we don’t actually want at our wedding.

      • A really good alternative for people struggling with limiting guests or wanting an intimate wedding is to get married in the morning in a small ceremony, have a nice wedding lunch with the nearest and dearest, and then have a party for all the friends in the evening (buy kegs of beer/crates of wine and order BBQ or do a potluck type thing). You still get a nice, intimate day, and you get an awesome party (the only big expense for the evening would be providing music).

  7. We actually had people ask to be invited to our wedding & then NOT even show up after RSVPing. That was pretty rude as we had acquiesced to allow them a spot on our 80 person guest list. We didn’t miss them at the time because we’d initially never planned to invite them, but still.

    • Same with us! My parents insisted on inviting all of their siblings; most RSVPd, and not one showed up to the wedding (most dropped out the week before – it was pretty sad.) They all had their “reasons,” but I still dislike that they couldn’t bother to let me know in the months between RSVPing and the wedding so I could invite friends/professors/cousins that we couldn’t fit otherwise.

      On the plus side, I got the small wedding I wanted and had much more time to get acquainted with all of my new family (who are all absolutely wonderful!).

  8. I was on the other side of this once. It’s a long story, but basically a friend of mine was engaged. We kind of lost touch for awhile after they got engaged, but we re-connected a few months before her wedding and became good friends again. I didn’t realize that she had sent the invitations before we started hanging out again, and since everything was going so well between us I totally thought I was getting invited (they even invited me to their Jack and Jill party). So one day I said to her “hey, have you gotten around to sending the invitations? Your wedding is really soon.” She explained the situation to me, that she didn’t know we’d be hanging out again when she sent them, and that they were keeping it small for budget reasons and venue limits. I was disappointed, but she was super nice about it and I totally get why it happened like that. We’re still great pals despite that though and she was even one of my bridesmaids at my wedding last year.

    • OH, my hackles are up! You DON’T invite someone to the bridal shower and then NOT invite them to the wedding! That’s sheer rudeness and greed! Bad bride! >:[

      • While I can understand the confusion in the above story, the whole showerinvite=wedding invite rule can vary between cultures, regions, and generations. I initiaaly freaked when there were folks at both of my showers who weren’t invited to the wedding, but it turns out that’s just how things are done in my husband’s small town maritime community, and was the samewith my mother’s generation.

      • Normally I agree, but I understand why it happened this way. When she sent out the invitations, she had every reason to think that we wouldn’t be friends at the time of her wedding. Like I said, it’s a long and complicated story. We worked things out about a month after she sent them out, and she had received most of the RSVPs by then, so she knew she couldn’t invite me even though she wanted to. Since we had become good friends again though, she thought it would be rude to at least not invite me to the shower.

      • I have to say, some of the ladies from our church have been planning a jack & jill shower for us…and it has us rather nervous, since one of the two in charge, wasn’t originally on the guest list! We, luckily, have some blank envelopes for our invites, and have only just started handing them out….but how many others are there, that we had no intention of inviting to the wedding? We’d feel terrible (terribly awkward and possibly annoyed) if they got invited to one and not the other.
        We know that they’re full on in the good intentions – but at the same time…..*sigh*

        • I had a very similar thing with my wedding shower. My mother was still not comfy telling her friends that she had a gay daughter- so when I asked her if she wanted to invite anyone, she said no. Fast forward to a few weeks before our wedding and my mom’s best friend finds out we were getting married and throws us a wonderful shower.

          Who shows up but ALL my mom’s friends who we didn’t invite because my mom asked us not to. I felt like crap getting gifts from all these wonderful women and knowing they weren’t invited…but it was too late to do anything.

      • What if someone gets invited to a shower that wasn’t planned by you (the couple)? Do you have to invite them since they were invited to shower?

        Serious question here – I’m sitting on an invite I don’t want to send, but that person was invited to a shower even though I expressly asked that no non-wedding peeps be invited, for this reason. Not sure what to do!

        • talk to the people closes to this person, would they *really* be offended and do they *really* expect to be invited even if they aren’t that close to you?

    • I have shower questions too!!! We’re getting married here in Virginia, my family is mostly in Michigan. My mother wants to throw me a shower when I come home this spring to visit. She said she wants to do it A) so I have one and B) so the women in our family who won’t be able to make it to the wedding can feel involved. We already know a lot of the family likely won’t come just because of the distance (even though we’re planning to send invites) and she doesn’t want them to feel left out entirely. I actually don’t want a shower. At all. But she’s going to do it anyway. Where do I even begin…?

      • Could you and your mom turn the shower into some other kind of family/wedding celebration? What about a co-ed casual party without games and gifts and all of that? Would that be more comfortable for you?

      • Can you make it clear that a “shower” in the traditional sense is very much not your idea of a good time, and suggest another option? Getting a team together for a charity walk-a-thon is a way to give back and encourage good health and habits that will bring the family together (either to walk or sit in the bleachers and cheer), then have a picnic afterward at someone’s home. Maybe a Scentsy or Pampered Chef party?

      • Thank your mom for the gift of a shower and for finding a way to orchestrate a. Event that will allow relatives to share some time with you. Smile at the shower and make the best of the day. Sometimes things arent all about what and how we want

  9. This has happened to me in so many ways, perhaps in part because of the size of my family. In fact, my sister had problems with relatives showing up to her DESTINATION WEDDING uninvited, so I knew from the get-go that this could be a problem.

    I’ve had someone email me saying they’d better get an invite, who has persisted in sending me emails like she’s coming, which is hard to navigate. I’ve also had relatives inviting other people on my behalf, or being very upset when I say we’re keeping it small. Added to this is the (actually correct, but still!) assumption that the reason the wedding is “tiny” (at 90 people) is because of my partner’s preferences. This has meant that I’m doing a lot of standing up for my partner, as my family views this as a reflection of him not integrating into our family dynamic.

    So this post could NOT be more timely for me, as I’m trying to find my own mix of assertiveness and gentleness. Last night, I was addressing a new invitation to a guest who’d been invited without my knowledge because I didn’t think I had it in me to keep up the battle… but I think that reading this post has inspired me to find a diplomatic but firm way to hold my ground. Thankfully I won’t have to do this much longer!

    • I love the different ideas about what counts as ‘tiny.’ In my family, big starts at 20 people. My 80-person wedding is HUGE.

      • Exactly. My fiancé has 25 people coming and he feels that’s too many. He originally wanted to keep it to 20 people… And I had to point out that my immediate family (parents + sibs) is 16. The 65 people from my side include 6 friends. The rest are aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sibs. So yeah: tiny & intimate are VERY relative. 🙂

        • We have a guest list of 475+ and it could easily be 575+! It is hard to tell people no and use the “we’re keeping it small” excuse. However, over 200 of them are family! And that is leaving off another 150+ family that we didn’t invite and are already being hounded about. So yes, our ideas of small and huge are definitely different! haha..I’ll be glad when this stress is over!

  10. I’ll be having a very small wedding purely because of budget and I’m very selfish..
    I already know that some people will get very upset not receiving an invite simply because they expected one. If I do find myself in the situation that someone is inviting themselves I will bluntly tell them to not come. It’s selfish and may be rude, but is it not a little insensitive and rude to just invite yourself?
    Luckily I’ll be getting hitched in the US (I’m Dutch), so I kind of doubt people would pay to fly out there for a wedding they didn’t get invited too…
    I don’t know, I’ve worked in the wedding industry and it gets me everytime a bride has complained about her guestlist filled up with people she barely knows.. It’s something I vowed not to do 🙂

    • I don’t think it’s selfish to want a small wedding. Even if you have the money for a large one, it doesn’t make you selfish to have a small one. If anybody asks tell them you kept it small to save the environment. 😉

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