When my son announced his engagement, one of the first things I did was call several friends to tell them the good news and then tell them “and of course you’re invited”. But they weren’t.
Whether your mom or future in-laws have jumped the gun as I did or you have announced to all your work colleagues that they will be invited or, more likely, you have already sent out 200 invitations, only to realize that, for whatever reason, you have to un-invite some of your guests, it is always an awkward situation.
When you find yourself in this situation, realize that you are not the first bride to run into trouble with a guest list. Your reasons for paring back can include discovering that your wedding venue cannot accommodate everyone, that you simply don’t have the budget for so many people, or that some of your invitees have proven themselves to be the last people you would want near you on your special day.
If someone else (like me) has offered invitations, ask them to be the one to do the un-inviting. This should be done in person or by telephone. The friends I had invited took it very well, having been through the planning of their children’s weddings in the last several years.
If the invitations have been sent out, it is up to the bride and groom to take on the task. If uninviting relatives can be handled well by the parents, this is a good alternative. But the friends, co-workers and associates of the bride or groom should hear it from them.
Make a new guest list. Which guests are most important to you? Who was invited on a whim? If one cousin is taken off the list, are they all? Are you keeping some guests only because they are easily offended, and you don’t want to be the bad guy?
Be diplomatic. Take peoples feelings into account. Take time to talk with them and express your disappointment in having to make changes.
Be honest. People are much more understanding about budget constraints and poor planning than you might think. Many of your guests will have found themselves in similar situations in the past.
Before you un-invite, decide if you would like to have a meet the bride and groom event for your un-invited guests. This could be a back yard barbeque, a cocktail party, a picnic at the beach, whatever you like. Let them know that they will be receiving an invitation to that event. And then follow through.
During my sons wedding reception, I was relating how embarrassed I had been about uninviting my friends to the Rabbi’s wife. She smiled and said, “Oh Liz. You have no idea how many weddings I have been uninvited to!”
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