Dear ESB: Is it okay to UN-invite people?

Categories   Wedding Advice

Ack, this is not a good situation to be in, is it? Apparently it’s a common dilemma though. Sometimes when the reality of your wedding sets in, you change your mind. And you know what? That’s okay. Let’s see what East Side Bride says.


We’ve run into an issue on the guest list… 

When we initially began planning we were going to have a large wedding (we both have huge families), we got all the addresses, told people they were invited, yada yada yada. Fast forward to now and we’re thinking we’d rather go light on the wedding and spend more on the honeymoon. We’d like to cut the guest list by at least two thirds, but we’re afraid of hurt feelings.

Should we suck it up and invite the people we said we were going to invite, or could we politely explain to them that we’ve changed direction and we’re having a small, intimate ceremony?


Mkay. I answered this question once before, but I think I sort of muffed it.

There’s no shame in downsizing your wedding (provided that people haven’t already bought plane tickets, booked hotel rooms, etc). But you do owe a personal phone call/explanation to everyone you are un-inviting.

Note: Be sure to focus on the “small, intimate ceremony” bit. No need to tell em, YAY NOW WE CAN SPEND MORE $$ ON THE HONEYMOON!!

Photo by Gabor Jurina

Social Love

Chloe on Nov 22, 2011

I'm so glad you mentioned about the airfare part... I once spent a small fortune travelling to a friend's wedding in Italy and they changed everything two weeks before the date. Needless to say, they're not very close friends anymore.

Justine on Nov 22, 2011

I don't out and out disagree with this advice (provided you haven't sent save-the-dates or anything quite so official), but there is one thing to keep in mind when you're uninviting guests: You are uninviting people from one of the most important events in your life. If they are really, really good friends, they will understand. But a lot of people will not. And your life will go on after your wedding, and you will see those people and relatives or whoever is not getting invited anymore. And your honeymoon is important, definitely, but you will also have the opportunity to go on vacation together for the rest of your lives. Soooo that long answer is I guess saying that you should really, really think this one through. And think about what it will be like a week, a month, a year after you get back from your honeymoon. Hope it all works out for you! ~Stop Me if You've Heard This One

Justine on Nov 22, 2011

And for the record, my answer would have been different if your reasons for uninviting had been different. But from what you said, it sounds like you can afford to invite the people you're uninviting AND that they are important people in your life.

Amy on Nov 22, 2011

I believe you should have thought more carefully when you first told people. By this point, yes, people might even be relieved of not having to attend the wedding considering it could be a financial burden -- travel, gift, etc. But it will ALWAYS signal "you are not one of my nearest and dearest." Even if people know that implicitly and do understand, it will hurt. What about downsizing the budget for the wedding by making different choices instead?

The Thirty-Something Bride (Louise) on Nov 22, 2011

Ooooh. Totally disagree. while there is no shame in downsizing based on real and possible financially detrimental issues, wanting to redirect the funds to your honeymoon? That = LAME. Verbal invitations are DANGEROUS. Early STD's are DANGEROUS. Time can be a bitch - jobs can be lost, budgets can change, parents can become immobile. LOTS can happen. As a couple, you now have a responsibility to your wedding guests as well as to yourselves. I may be old school in this thinking, but there it is. Here's a real life lesson for all brides (and PEOPLE)....think about what you want before you actually say or do anything. Yes, you're excited about being engaged, but to what extent? To this extent where you will definitely piss people off and hurt feelings? No matter how understanding this now uninvited guest will be to your face or over the phone? They will be unhappy and hurt. Plan on it. If someone did this to me? I'd reconsider the friendship. I would. I'm just being 100% honest. A possible solution? If a better honeymoon is what you really want, how about registering for it? There are tons of sites where you can register for donated funds to the honeymoon of your dreams. Since you'll have more people at your wedding, the likelihood of getting the original wedding you wanted as well as the honeymoon may be attainable. I offer a hearty "Good Luck" to this bride!

Sarah on Nov 22, 2011

If I were invited to a wedding, and then uninvited down the road, I would be horribly hurt and feel like maybe we weren't as good of friends as I thought. If then found out the reason why I was uninvited to said wedding was so the couple could go on a better honeymoon, then I would stop being friends with that person, hands down. Why don't you just go away for a couple of days to a B&B and then a year later go on a very awesome honeymoon?

Catherine on Nov 22, 2011

What T30SB said - ditching your relatives for a holiday is lame, and they'll be nice, but hurt, and you'll feel bad. Unless you really are spectacularly self-centered of course.

Anonymous Bitch on Nov 22, 2011

Priorities are just blatently effed with this girl, eh?

April on Nov 22, 2011

I've actually been on the "un-invited" side of things. And while I understood - final decision to not spend gobs of cash on a wedding and instead pocket said cash for a future house purchase - it was a bit odd. And honestly always made me think "are they having a big wedding anyway, but just decided they didn't want to invite me anymore?" I think if you do it, you have to cut everyone out. Meaning, family only. And even then, be careful. Hard to explain why one aunt was invited but another not.

Kate on Nov 22, 2011

I think it hurts enough when you think you'll be invited and then the STD and the invite never arrive. To invite someone to one of the most important moments in your life and then take that invite away? That just seems cruel. And, also, tacky.

Emily on Nov 22, 2011

Completely disagree! Think these things through BEFORE you invite people. To uninvite someone is completely self-centered. Man up and take the consequences of your actions. Believe it or not your wedding isn't ALL about you but your friends and family too.

Dawn on Nov 22, 2011

A wedding is about joining the two lives together NOT about the people who are standing and witnessing it. Yes of course UN-inviting people is not something I think anyone wants to do but when the reality of the expenses a wedding can rack up I can see why people may need to cut down even if it is for the honeymoon. As for wanting have a better or even longer honeymoon I think it is a huge part of the puzzle of a big life change. Having that span of time to be with your newly wed partner alone is a time you will never get again. For those who, for the first time in their lives, get to join themselves to someone and share those first romantic weeks together married its a great buffer for what could be a stressful transition. To think the bride has her priorities all jumbled do you really think buying a seat and cake for a few more guests will really do anything to change that? A wedding is about the two people getting married not the show not the family not anything else but that. So many times we forget this and try to include so many other influences into it. I say if plans change (like they ALWAYS do with weddings) as long as you properly inform guests it shouldn't be such drama. If I had to UN-invite anyone to my wedding I know they would understand because I only have invited those that love me and want what is best for me.

The Thirty-Something Bride (Louise) on Nov 22, 2011

I have to comment from a personal standpoint to Dawn's comment. I wholeheartedly DISAGREE that a marriage is simply the joining of two lives. When The Candyman and I got married, the ONLY reason we didn't elope was because we believe that a marriage involves not only us, but our families. We knew that we needed and wanted the love and support of families for the wedding and the start of our marriage. We wanted only our closest friends and our families there because we knew we would need and want their love and support from that point on, for years and years to come. We even included this point in our vows to each other and to our guests. I'm not saying that families and friends should be the priority, but I would consider how much of a priority you want them to be in your future, particularly if you UNinvite them. My extra 2 cents.

Liz on Nov 22, 2011

The best wedding advice i was given was: "If they were offended because they weren't invited to the wedding, then it was never about you and him." Honey, if they love you, they will understand. If they don't, YOU should reconsider the friendship.

Sandra on Nov 23, 2011

Not agree at all, how can you do such a thing? Such a lack of respect for your friends!

Judy on Nov 23, 2011

I agree with Louise, register for a honeymoon. problem solved. Un-inviting people so you can have a better holiday is not very classy.

Aine on Nov 23, 2011

I'm sorry, what the hell is wrong with you? If this were ANY other kind of party, you'd have the sense to realize that you CAN'T UNINVITE PEOPLE because its RUDE- why are weddings special? If something serious had happened and you couldn't afford it, fine. But this is pure and utter selfishness.

Justine on Nov 23, 2011

I completely disagree with the people who are saying the wedding is only about the couple. The marriage is only about the couple. Your marriage is yours, no one else gets a say about that. But the wedding? The wedding is for everyone else. If you want something that is just for you and your fiance, you elope. The marriage is a celebration and a thank-you to all the people who have supported you and your relationship throughout your life. Why do you think you don't charge people for that expensive party you throw? I also disagree with the amount of importance people are placing on the honeymoon. Yes, it's one of the only vacations you'll take where people won't bother you, but it doesn't have to be a huge, expensive affair to be meaningful (just like the wedding doesn't have to be a blow-out to be special). It's a trip for the two of you to celebrate. That can mean anything. And I said it before, but you will have the rest of your lives for fancy vacations. To me, it wouldn't be worth all the hurt feelings and alienated relationships I'd have to deal with after the wedding. Because there IS an "after the wedding." And it lasts a lot longer than any fancy honeymoon.

Asiya on Nov 23, 2011

Having been an "uninvitee" before, I was a bit miffed, more because it was rude than because I cared. Obvi, they uninvited me because I was further outside of their social circle and we both knew it. However, to this day, my friends and I still smirk at their complete social clumsiness, and add it to the list of reasons why they are so weird. I personally like the idea of having a honeymoon gift registry that Louise suggested. Ordinarily I kind of hate those things, but on a scale of unclassy, uninviting is way lower than a honeymoon registry.

Kayla on Nov 23, 2011

I agree with the dissenters. Unless you have a REALLY good reason (i.e. loss of income, death of family member, etc) it is a total bitchy thing to un-invite people. It's completely different if you had chosen to have a small wedding in the first place and not invited a lot of people but if you got ahead of yourself and messed up, too bad. Planning a wedding or any other societal event that is so important forces you to mature. This is that time. As the saying goes, you made your bed now you have to lie in it. If you want a really great honeymoon, you better downside the "stuff" at the wedding. Maybe you have a much smaller reception, get a more affordable dress, etc. OR, alternatively you could elope and un-invite EVERYONE. That would be the only fair way. You need to decide if your honeymoon is worth sacrificing the friendship of the people you are wanting to ditch.

Kristy on Nov 23, 2011

I was uninvited from Cousin's Wedding, AFTER recieiving an invite. No reason, no phone call, just an email. I had taken time off work, spent $1500 on airfares and accomodation for myself, partner and or 2 young kids. I was devastated. If i hadnt been invited in the first place, or if I had of at least not spent all that money. Our money was non refunadble, so we went and had a holiday, and didnt go anywhere near any of those family members. Found out a few months later she was upset that I did not forward a wedding present. Needless to say she is not invited to my wedding, nor do I even really contact her anymore. I figure I will now treat her with the same regard she treated me.

Noelle Matthews on Nov 27, 2011

What are your thoughts about being un-invited into the bridal party? After being in the bridal party for a year or the 1.5 year engagement and throwing a shower! Happened to me. Ruined our friendship.

Emma on Nov 28, 2011

It's your life and you have to do what's right for you and then man standing next to you! You are only marrying him...and only you and him know what it took to get to this point. So, you only need him next to you when you do get married. The rest is gravy. People are extremely opinionated about weddings..........and let emotions get the better of them. So, listen to your heart, do what you want and back yourself always. It will be a little awkward but reality is your wedding day will be all the better for it! Small n intimate versus masses? Small and intimate always! Nothing worse on your wedding day then having to make small talk!

Emily Kane on Nov 30, 2011

If there's no official word out, then it's technically (I guess) okay. I think that our interconnectedness with social media has made it so EVERYONE CAN TRACK YOUR EVERY WEDDING MOVE and that might not make it easy on brides, i.e. guest lists. Two things: 1) I 100% agree with registering for the honeymoon. We saved for nearly two years for the wedding, did a lot of stuff on the cheap (laptop instead of DJ, single roses/silk flowers instead of crazy bouquets, saved like 50 wine bottles for decor, great and inexpensive caterer & venue, stocked the bar ourselves), and we might have even made a slight profit on the wedding. Partially BECAUSE WE INVITED SO DAMN MANY PEOPLE. We got craploads of cash and nearly $2K in honeymoon registry. I'm not saying get married to make a profit - I'm saying don't freak and change your wedding plans because you're worried about having money for the honeymoon. 2) Lots of people who are excited now won't come. We invited 180, hoped for 135, and 110 showed up. At least 1/3 of the people who we invited did not attend, for various reasons. Based on conversations I've had with other brides & industry people, this is extremely common, almost to the point you can bank on it. As far as the informal invitations, you can't unring that bell. We almost did, with my parents' old friends who my mom told were invited, but I'm really glad we ended up not uninviting them, as they had a wonderful time. (They also gave us $250 worth of honeymoon registry dollars - just saying.)

Brittany R on Dec 6, 2011

I was uninvited to a friend's wedding. They, too, sent out Save the Dates VERY early on, knowing her father had been out of a job for years and they didn't have a big budget to work with. Or maybe they hadn't thought of the budget yet, which is even worse. I was very hurt but I understood that sometimes things happen. I was uninvited via TEXT, which added more salt to the wound. I was invited to several showers which I chose not to attend. Later, we were sent a URL to watch their wedding live as it happened on the beach (they were having a small, "family-only" wedding.) We watched and were shocked to see about 75-100 guests there, including some of our friends in attendance. Needless to say we are no longer friends, a decision made after talking with her and receiving a very negative response. All this to say, the bride in question in this blog needs to REALLY evaluate what is important to her. You can ALWAYS save up and go on your big, elaborate honeymoon later---that sucks, but people do it all the time. OR you can register for your honeymoon, which is a great alternative and you can have both the people you want at your wedding and the honeymoon of your just might have to be willing to wait until you can afford it. Downsizing your wedding to allot more money to your honeymoon is, at this point, VERY rude. You might as well assume those people are not going to want to be friends with you anymore. It's hurtful. And sure, you can argue that guests who are upset were not that good of friends to begin with, but you need to put yourself in their position. You would most likely be upset if someone did it to you. It's human nature and just very crass. You don't want people's memory of your wedding to be a foul one. Better to downgrade your wedding into a fun, budget-friendly affair (which CAN be done, look at sites like Pinterest and the thousands of wedding blogs out there today!) than to burn bridges. When the dust settles, life goes back to normal, and you are no longer the center of attention, you will be in your new home with your new husband and your friend circle will undoubtedly be noticeably smaller.

Kei on Dec 8, 2011

I'm throwing in my two cents with the dissenters, here. I understand your wish to have a big expensive honeymoon. We were on a very, very tight budget when we got married, and we went without almost anything extraneous (going out for dinner, movies, drinks with friends, new clothes, etc.) for a year to save up the money for our honeymoon. We have large families, and it certainly would have been less expensive, wedding-wise, to not invite some of those people. But bear in mind, by explicitly telling someone "you are no longer invited to our wedding," what they are hearing is "we do not care about you enough to invite you to our wedding." I think it would be a lot more understandable if you were cutting the list because one of you had been laid off or something, but to reroute those funds to your honeymoon seems pretty selfish. You can go on plenty of vacations together in the future; you only get to do the wedding once, and those people will remember the slight for the rest of their lives. I'm serious about that part, too. A friend got engaged shortly before I did, and we excitedly chatted together about our weddings, gave each other ideas, reminisced about our times together (we and our fiances were part of a group of friends in college). She and I were friends with two other girls, and I thought the four of us were sort of a "friend unit." But when the wedding invitations came out, the other two were asked to be bridesmaids--and I wasn't even invited. I tried very hard to be understanding and of course acted very cheerful and gracious to her, but honestly, it really stung. I'd be lying if I said it hadn't affected my relationship with this girl; she made it clear she didn't think of me as a good enough friend to attend her wedding, and so I've written her off as same.

Sarah on Dec 8, 2011

I would agree that you can't uninvite people. My SIL basically gave my bro an ultimatum for their wedding. He could invite his family (we have a large family) or friends. Well, the friends were very hurt when they were not invited. We have friends since high school and beyond going to the county fairs, to the street dances, have fires, and hang out. Some of the friends did receive a facebook invite for the dance only just before the wedding. The friends did not come to the wedding and had a BBQ instead. Please, whatever you do, please do not sent out invites and then un-invite or send out facebook dance only invites. I will be thinking about that when I do get engaged and plan my wedding. I don't want to have a huge costly wedding, yet I want to have a fun time becoming a wife and sharing that event with family and friends.

Denise on Dec 20, 2011

A friend of mine got married this summer and although she had told me several times that I would be invited, and even went to the extend to tell me the date ahead of time so I could ask for leave at work - the invitation never came. I didn't ask her about it because I figured that it was out of financial reasons and didn't want to embarrass her. Then, after it was all over, she showed me pictures of the event and said, "I'm so glad we decided to have a party with just our closest friends." Needless to say, she's not considered a friend anymore. You should consider what's more important to you - spending three more days at the beach or spending the rest of your life with the people who love you and care about you?

chantel on Oct 27, 2012

unfortunaely,people show their true colors either months or the day of the wedding.....

tig on Jan 6, 2013

Another dissenter here. I agree with Kei, and also those who point out that weddings aren't just about the couple (or otherwise we'd all elope!) - they're a chance for the couple to celebrate their relationship by throwing a party with their nearest and dearest. Firstly, this scenario is why early planning about what you want, and what you can afford, is important. So you don't have to send your friends or family inconsistent messages about the size of your wedding and who's invited until you are SURE of what you want. Uninviting is plain rude, and even if you do it with the best of intentions, people can still get offended as it does imply that you are not 'close' enough to witness an important event in their life. Just think of what it would feel like if you were really excited for a friend's wedding, thrilled to be invited and couldn't wait to go, only for that friend you considered close to uninvite you because late down the line, they'd reconsidered and decided they actually want longer holiday instead. You would feel rejected (why didn't they just make it a small wedding at the start if that's what they wanted?) and to most people, the reason would seem selfish. It's not an unforeseen emergency, but looks like people wanting to have their cake and eat it. Put in perspective, even most people who in poverty can't afford their 'dream wedding and honeymoon', especially if this ideal is constantly shifting to become more lavish - one could always have a bigger wedding or a fancier honeymoon, but we start to forget that these do NOT make a marriage! And for crying out loud, be consistent in who you uninvite/don't invite. There should be no nasty surprises like the ones in comments where people find out they are the 'odd-one-out' in their group, or that other equally distant relatives or friends were invited - nothing that implies a particular person was singled out to be left out personally. If you don't like them that much, you should have made it clear to them before the wedding, or had the good grace to invite them anyway. As we can see from the comments, it really does hurt if someone you consider close changes their mind or doesn't invite you, especially if they lie and invite loads of people. Yes, a fancy 'perfect' wedding that's all about you, and a swish honeymoon would be lovely, but are they worth alienating lots of friends and family? Personally, being on good terms with the people I care about, and not wanting to offend them with a gesture that could really easily be misinterpreted would mean more to me than a fancy wedding. Because nice as it is to be a newlywed couple, your world isn't just made up of you as a couple, but also your friends and family, even with their difficulties. Focusing too much on ourselves makes us selfish and unprepared to compromise to forge good relationships with everyone around us. Friendships and families, like romantic relationships, need understanding, compromise, and sympathy for the other's feelings, and being entirely self-centred about a wedding forgets that the wedding of someone you are close to can be a very important day for lots of people. In weddings as in all else we need to consider ourselves, but also those around us.

Tania on Apr 29, 2013

what do I do? my daughter got engaged, knowing I wasnt working, her grandmother is paying for everything, but it was in agreement that I would help out after I got determined that I was perm. disabled, STD were sent out and 3 months before the wedding got a phone call saying since I havent contributed that my whopping family of 21 people had to be uninvited, this being said 90% of my family is choosing not to go and some of them are just going to go to the church. Im very upset that I think I too am only going to the church so as not to give the satisfaction to her grandmother saying she had to pay my way...mind you that original invite list was 170, and at the time of my family, which is hers also being uninvited the count went up to 190, friends are still on the list and since I do not have any finances my family is still, I need your thoughts

Kathleen on Aug 27, 2015

How should this be handled after the guest has already RSVP'd and did so 4 months prior to the wedding? My cousin invited her guests, allowing for plus ones, then had her sister text me 2 months prior to her wedding that the I couldn't bring my plus one even though she personally invited us both and we were among the first to RSVP, by saying that they realized they they over booked their event and that they are reviewing their guest list and budget (AFTER INVITITATIONS HAVE BEEN SENT AND ALL RSVP's were received) and there was no guarantee that the invitation I was given was confirmed a plus one, even though one had been given. I kindly declined attending for myself and for my plus one. This was the final injury in a LONG list of others that has left a bad taste in my mouth. A word of advice to other brides: NEVER UNINVITE A GUEST VIA TEXT!!!!!

You Might Also Like