We have a ton of constructive advice about conflict resolution and dealing with guestlist issues… but we get that sometimes you just need to vent! In that spirit, here's an unsent open letter from one frustrated bride.
Dear [friend/relative/loved one] that I am not inviting to my wedding,
We'll skip the awkward well-wishing and wellness inquiries. I know you are angry. You're probably hurting, maybe livid. You might be ready to cut me out of your life completely because you did not receive that magic little piece of paper in the mail that says “Yes! We are fine! Come to my wedding! All is water under the bridge!” You were not invited to my wedding, and therefore I am no longer part of your life.
But here is the grown-up, bare-bones, truth: Not getting invited to my wedding does not mean being uninvited to my life.
There is a reason you are not going to be there on the day of the wedding. Maybe we had a fight that didn't get resolved. Maybe I found out about the views you were spewing behind my back. Maybe we were once close, but then drifted apart. Maybe we were NEVER that close, but just always found a way to hang out.
Regardless, we had some sort of relationship that led you to believe you were a shoe-in. But that relationship is damaged.
So why didn't you get invited?
Wouldn't that be the ultimate “let's kiss and make up” gesture? If I truly cared about our relationship, I'd invite you, regardless of the hurt.
The reason is this: My wedding is not the time and place to resolve issues with you. My wedding is the day that I want to celebrate and remember as the 24 hours where my smile never left my face.
I am going to be marrying the love of my life and in the end, I don't want to care about anything else. My head will be so filled with happiness, worry about the caterer, anxiety over tripping on my dress, Uncle Barney getting drunk, the photographer taking a picture of me picking my nose, etc, that I won't have room in my head, in my SOUL, to try and make amends with you.
Maybe we can repair our relationship, but I'm not using my wedding dress as the bandage.
I'm sorry that our unresolved issues came to a head at one of the most important times of my life. I'm sorry that we weren't able to come to a resolution in between the cake-tastings and the dress-fittings. I'm sorry that you will not get to celebrate with me as I marry the person that means the most to me in this world.
Most of all, I'm sorry that this will hurt you. Because it isn't meant to. Right now we are not at a place where I feel comfortable celebrating with you.
I don't pretend to hope that you will attempt to reconcile with me after all is said and done, but please at least let the possibility enter your heart.
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Comments on Dear loved one who is not getting invited to my wedding…
Of all the articles I’ve read on Offbeat Bride (most of which I have enjoyed a lot!), I had a difficult time with this one. Of course I believe it is totally fine to only invite exactly who you want to your wedding, but this article seems a little spiteful, and misguided. Not inviting someone that is a ‘loved one’ to your wedding (unless it’s based only on numbers with lots of other cuts made) will make a huge statement (and it’s not a good one). If someone is truly a ‘loved one’ then be the bigger person and see if reconciliation can be made and if not, then at least you have your answer… But not inviting them with the already intended caveat of ‘oh I know I’ll hurt you, but maybe you can find it in your heart to forgive me someday’ seems like a mean and dramatic game to play with someone that you already have ‘a history’ with.
A letter that may be written but should never be sent. Big thumbs down here.
Certainly, this letter was simply an exercise in self-expression and a release of feelings, never intended to actually be sent or be a guide for any actual communication.
It says ‘unsent’ letter – it was someone venting, it was never sent to anyone.
I think this was just fine. I have a friend that I’m cautiously getting back in touch with after a fight and two years of non communication that I don’t know whether to invite. I don’t see my wedding day as a balm for my relationships, and don’t want to divide my attention away from celebration toward unrelated drama.
I think it’s easy to imagine the kind of life this person had where they’d write this letter, but you don’t know the full story so it’s a little overzealous to assume that you know enough to throw stones. There are so many situations where writing this is perfectly valid, and let’s be real it’s very unlikely they sent this letter to anyone. If they had, it would not have been so vague.
More likely, it was written for the people who come to this blog who could relate to it and maybe needed to hear something like this.
Personally, reading this made me feel a lot better about my own wedding, and people I will not be inviting because they had the misfortune to end up on the wrong side of a no-contact relationship. They did nothing wrong, but inviting them would open a hell mouth of bad from people I am not currently in contact with and have no wish to be, and I am not close enough to those family members to risk that and never have been.
That is just one situation, and I’m sure there are many more that can be applied to a post like this one.
So yeah. That’s just my take on it.
You nailed it Brianne. I asked to publish this because it resonated with me as a person who planned a wedding, AND as an editor who loves to let others know that they aren’t alone in similar emotional struggles.
“If someone is truly a ‘loved one’ then be the bigger person…” No, I don’t think so. Having to be the bigger person so many times in the past, I’m no longer willing to. The article really resonated with me because I am not inviting my own mother to my wedding, for reasons she clearly knows. If she is hurt by not being asked to be there, she only has herself to blame for our damaged relationship that I have painfully repaired many times in the past only for her to destroy it.
Dear [friend/relative/loved one] who didn’t invite me to your wedding-
I appreciate your honesty. Communication between us has broken down. I know you blamed the failure of “Project X” on me. I should have taken the time to correct that impression but I didn’t and for that I’m very sorry.
In the spirit of honesty and in an effort not to repeat past miscommunications, I’d like to express my hurt that you assumed I would do anything but be a polite and smiling wedding guest. Also I would like to point out that there were 9 months leading up to your wedding during which we could have made our amends. So I’m not sure why you thought this could only be handled on that day. But I recognize I am equally to blame for that. I was humiliated to be the only person in our [family/circle of friends] not to get invited and I was too proud to approach with an olive branch.
On the whole I think it’s best for us to go our separate ways. Although I have a lot of experience forgiving unintentional slights, I really have no experience dealing with calculated snubs. I know you don’t see it this way but I do. I think on this we’ll have to agree to differ.
This happened to me. I was the only one of a circle of friends not invited and I didn’t even know the bride was upset with me. It was a clear, deliberate snub and I cried so many tears over it. I never had the chance to repair the relationship; I guess she decided she didn’t want me in her life any more.
It really hurt.
Because of that, for my own wedding I did NOT leave out anyone who was part of a ‘group’. If I invited several, I invited them all. And those friends who were on the periphery were so happy and excited to be invited and really made it a great party. 🙂 An invitation can mean so much.
Thanks, this really helped me a lot! A little empathy goes a long way – thanks for the reminder 🙂
I agree that this post was not a tutorial for how to handle dealing with your uninvited list. It seems more cathartic by dealing with feelings of your own rather actually sending a “Why I did not put you on the guest list letter.”
We are not inviting most everyone in our respective families for various reasons. In fact, out of a combined total of seven siblings, two mothers, two fathers, one step-mother, and two grandmothers, only my youngest sister is invited. We cut anyone who was not 100% (or even 60%) supportive; anyone who has issues with and would be vocal about our Atheistic Pagan, Humanist, feminist wedding ceremony that includes both Native American and witchcraft elements; and anyone with whom we have not spoken in the past two years. (In the end, we were left with less than a dozen guests.)
Some of these people will be getting announcements a few days before our wedding, which includes a comment about us wanting to keep the wedding limited for expense reasons, which is not untrue. I doubt they will think that is the only reason. I am expecting at least three will call with angry comments. My make believe conversations that are much harsher (in some cases) than the letter above will keep me from being truthfully mean when they do.
Dear Rude, Hypocritical, Jerk, Brother #1 of the Groom…
“Some of these people will be getting announcements a few days before our wedding, which includes a comment about us wanting to keep the wedding limited for expense reasons, which is not untrue. ”
Oh, good idea! Mind if we crib that? That seems like a great way to communicate that we aren’t cutting people out of our lives, without obligating us to entertain everyone we have talked to in the past decade.
Be my guest! I am glad to have helped in such a big little idea. 🙂 On my not-invited list, there are some whom I would like to invite, but inviting them would either cause problems or break our budget in the long run. My two older sisters have zero expectation of being invited because we have zero interaction. If we invited two of his four siblings, it might start a family civil war.
“I’m not using my wedding dress as the bandage”
This is so poignant and important. This is the best summation of that feeling I’ve ever read. Yes, yes, yes all around
There were people that I intentionally left off of my guest list, even though my original venue had basically unlimited available space. There were family members that drive me crazy, hangers-on that are at every family function that I personally don’t care for, and former friends that crawled out of the woodwork when they smelled a party. Only one of them expressed any ill-feelings, and some came anyway, in fact. I don’t feel that we should be obligated to spend the day of our wedding entertaining people that we wouldn’t choose to hang out with on a normal day. These people don’t send me invitatons to their big events, so I felt fine about my choice.
For someone who demeans you, or has been awful or abusive to you, or sneers at the traditions or rituals you choose to bring into your special day, or who has been critical of your partner choice – sure, fine, they shouldn’t be there. For someone you haven’t spoken to, or communicated with at all in years – ok, yes, don’t invite them. For when you just don’t have the budget for, or the space for a crowd, or if you desire an intimate affair – yep. Got your back, Jack; I’d defend those decisions as smart, and be the first person to support that.
However…..my family has been on the receiving end of a wedding snub recently, & it was handled poorly. Basically, my younger Relative got engaged, and we never heard a peep more about a wedding at all, until it was splashed all over his Facebook page, which we’re all his Friends on. Hmmm, looks like all of the other side of his family were there – yep, all of them. Looks like a ton of people on the bride’s side were there, too. There’s many years between my Relative & I, and there are a lot of other ‘Same Type of Extended Relationship Sorts of People’ in my family, who he hasn’t seen in a long time. Hey, cool. We’re good with not being asked, although we certainly would’ve attended, all happy to be there & excited for their celebration. But you couldn’t make room for my parents – who are your *god-parents*? Or my dad’s 2 sibs & their spouses – 6 people?! You basically cut out one whole side of your family, who did – I know it for a fact – absolutely nothing, to be treated so unkindly, then you put up a jillion pix on Facebook, & we should just grin & say “How nice!!!” – and what? Send you a card, or a gift? Even post ‘congratulations’ under your Facebook postings?! What to do – we’d like to grin, swallow hard & do the right thing – but having seen the tears my elderly dad cried, frankly, I’m not up to feeling big about it. Talk about making the next family event, hella-awkward. Thanks, Relative.
The whole “My wedding is not the time and place to resolve issues with you.” rang a deep note with me.
I’m struggling right now with a lot of expectation about who will be invited to my wedding. I don’t understand why invitation to my wedding equates I care about you, and no invitation to my wedding equates I don’t want you in my life. That makes absolutely no sense to me, and yet it’s clearly the norm. If I want to spend time with someone, I want to spend time with them- quiet, intimate, just us time where damage can be repaired or love can be reconnected. You know what I WON’T be doing at my wedding? Spending quiet, intimate time with each of the 100 guests AND my husband. It’s actually impossible. And it will only drive me nuts with guilt if I attempt this.
So reading this was like finally receiving permission to give voice to this. Not that I can think of a non-offensive way to communicate that to everyone, but this is a nice start for the internal side of things.
How about having to cut out good friends from the list due to budget limitations? How do you tell them that you do care for them but that they’re not invited? I know some of my friendships might end over me not inviting them, but we don’t know if we can afford to invite them.
Also, how do you deal with the: “if I invite one, I have to invite four”, when inviting no one might create an unwanted fallout?
Are you able to do a low budget reception for all your loved ones later? I think open communication is always best. I had a person RSVP yes to my wedding, then text me with a cancellation the day before because she had to do a taste test for HER wedding, which I ended up not being invited to. If I had been told it was a budget issue, that would have lessened the sting than the total silence.
You’re absolutely right. It’ll be better if I provide an explanation and offer an option for spending time together later. I’ll look into it with FH. Thank you!
I love this because it hits home with me and my soon to be wife. I don’t have a huge family at all. She has a big family.. I guarantee most of hers and my family wont be invited .It would be crazy if everyone I socialize with or call friend made the cut. Its not realistic .. I know allot of people want to be considered a friend but most are just associates.. Unless you part of tight crew of 5 or 6. For me the funniest part is coworkers who ask to be invited. No and NO. Uughh I met you last year absolutely not.. I agree that a wedding not a time to fix a relationship with anyone. Thank you for writing this and I love the idea of sending out announcements to those not invited.
I was not invited to my neices wedding, and I can tell you from experience that whatever your reasons for not inviting someone who you have a good relationship with, it will damage the relationship, and cause irreparable damage.
My neice and I were always close, She always referred to me as her second mom. Her parents lived in another country and I lived in the same city as her so I took care of her, gave her money all the time, took her out for fancy dinners all the time so she could experience the great things in the city, helped pay her university tuition, etc. We were close (or so I thought).
I’m single and well-off financially and didn’t have children of my own so I felt I could help and I did and she never hesitated to accept the kindness. However, I found out she was engaged 7 months after the engagement. Then she announced to me that no aunts or uncles or cousins were being invited to the wedding because it would be small and they wanted to keep costs down. I was devastated. I could not believe my ears. She was in my WILL to inherit everything, which was substantial.
The thing that hit me the hardest was to realize that she didn’t feel the same closeness to me as I felt to her. If you want to limit the guest list for money reasons, I understand, and the rest of the aunts and uncles and cousins she did not have a relationship with anyway, she didn’t even know any of them…but her relationship with me was different, or so I thought. I was more than just an aunt, or so I thought.
But coming to the realize that I was being treated like all the other extended family that she didn’t even know hurt me so badly. I realized that I had likely been reading more into the relationship than what was there. I had loved her and felt close to her but she didn’t feel the same way about me. She likely just took money when I offered it, came to the dinners when I offered, because there was something in it for her.
I would have even paid for her entire wedding if they wanted to invite people but couldn’t afford it. I loved her that much.
When that hurt and pain set in I didn’t know how to handle it. First thing of course was I cut her out of my WILL completely. Which is neither here or there because she never knew she was in the WILL to inherit everything I owned anyway and she never knew she had been cut out. I decided to stop calling her to see if she was ok and to see if she needed anything or to take her out to a fancy expensive dinner.
She had never called me before or wanted to see me or expressed love or caring to me, it was all one-sided from my part, but I rationalized it in my mind by saying “it’s just not her personality to show love and caring…but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love me or feel close to me” However when I didn’t get the invite to the wedding I realized that she really didn’t feel any sense of closeness to me, she saw me as a bothersome aunt. So I had to make the decision that I could not continue in a relationship where I was pushing myself on someone, where I wasn’t wanted. I let her go. I did not confront her or bring the issue up I just stopped contact.
It stills hurts inside to this day and likely always will, but it was my fault for believing that there was more to the relationship than there really was. That was not her fault, she never said or did anything to make me think or believe that she loved me or felt close to me, it was me thinking that…so my hurt and disappointment came from being angry at myself for being so wrong in my judgement.
It’s horrible when you come to realize that you are not loved the way you thought and then you have to make a decision on how to deal with that, but it’s a learning lesson, and taught me to never assume things about relationships ever again, unless someone comes right out and says they love me, don’t assume it. Unless someone comes right out and says you’re important in my life, don’t assume it. Unless someone comes right out and I feel close to you, don’t assume it. Lesson learned.
Now my entire estate goes to charity. Some other needy soul will reap the rewards of my life well lived.
Reading this broke my heart. My heart.
I think one of the most important things is to be genuine with others and appreciate the positive influence they’ve had on your life. I am so sorry that your niece took you for granted.
I can relate to an extent: I often feel like it wasn’t up to me then most of my friendships would…dissipate, because it’s always me making the effort to stay in touch. So I’m really thinking that I will just MIA for a little while and see who contacts ME.
I hope the hurt in your heart heals and that you find a way to a brighter day. I will remember your story and do my best to never do to someone what you went through. Sending positive vibes and love your way.
In today’s world, we empower people to step away from unhealthy relationships. Yet in doing so, maybe it becomes an excuse to avoid the hard conversations that should happen in relationships that simply need repairing. I’ve lost my daughter to estrangement. Our family has loved and cherished her and do not know why. We’ve made so many attempts to speak with her, text her, see her, but it has been almost two years since our last contact of any kind and will not be invited to the up-coming wedding. The grief that estrangement brings is unimaginable for a mother so to write a letter such as this sounds selfish, immature and cruel. I am sad that my daughter will be celebrating her wedding with a piece of joy missing in her life. The wedding is of course to be celebrated by the couple, but it was also to be a day of great joy in our lives and those close to her that she has cut out. Sometimes you mend fences not just for yourself, but for the gift to someone else and in the end you might receive the greatest gift.
Your comment really resonated with me. My situation seems quite similar. My daughter (30) will be married this weekend, but sadly, I never received an invite.
Over the past decade I have had anger and resentment over her easily dismissive ways toward me. I kept making excuses for her (work, school, young and living life). She excels at so much and I am so proud of her and tell her so when we speak (which is rarely).
I used to chalk it up to, “she’s just not a deep person”. Love to her is happiness and rainbows and love to me is deep emotion and intimacy. I nursed this child, kissed all the booboos, gave her comfort when she was disillusioned from high school friendships. enrolled her in her interests, was there for each performance/competition, taught her the value of community and volunteering. I took motherhood seriously. How is it I can be dismissed so easily?
But, I have come to realize that she can never fully understand where I come from as a mother, as she is not yet a mother herself. She genuinely has no idea the sacrifices and devotion I put into raising her. One day though, once she has a child of her own, I expect she will start to understand and she develop a deeper appreciation. Yet, I almost feel like I wish to save her from the pain of motherhood- as nothing hurts the way rejection from your child hurts and I don’t ever want my “baby” to feel this pain. I completely agree with your statement “In today’s world, we empower people to step away from unhealthy relationships. Yet in doing so, maybe it becomes an excuse to avoid the hard conversations that should happen in relationships that simply need repairing.”
My daughter is getting married tomorrow.
I was in a brief relationship with her mother when she was conceived. The relationship ended soon after. Despite this, I stood by her mother throughout the pregnancy and held my daughter in my arms minutes after she took her first breath.
From that moment on, even though I was no longer in a relationship with her mother, I tried my best to become a part of my daughter’s life and to be able to form a father/daughter bonding… although I saw her as much as I was allowed, was unable to achieve this bonding. The strange thing, her mother gave her my surname and wanted me to be part of my daughter’s life. Sadly my daughter changed her name about a year ago. This hurt me as I loved her dearly.
I always asked her mother to be able to see more of my daughter and to be there to support her at any event (school etc) that she wanted me present… and I did so whenever I knew of such an event. I wanted to be part of her life… but it came to a point when she turned 18 that I put the “ball in her court” to tell me if this was mutual and if she wanted me to be part of her life.
She did not say she wanted this and refuse to talk about it. I believe the “well of opinion” towards me had been poisoned by her mother. I had never spoken ill of her mother… and only ever praised her for doing such a great job bringing up a wonderful daughter.
A few months ago, I heard that my daughter was getting married. Long after wedding invites were sent ou, I recived a half-hearted unloving invite… not a wedding invite parse… but rather an “invitation to invite myself”. It was important to me that my daughter who I loved dearly actually told me she wanted me there. I did not want to be invited if she did not really want me there. I responded that I did want an invitation (and gave her my email address), but stated that she acknowledge there were things to talk about, to hear my side of the story and for her to at least tell me why she rejected me. She never responded to this.
This is how I replied after receiving the invite (that I had to request)…
Dear L and M,
It is with great love that I wish you both all the happiness on your wedding day.
It is also with great sadness that I won’t be there to witness this wonderful unity.
My thoughts and love will be there beside you as you walk down the aisle and when you make the sacred vow of marriage.
I will always love you L and will respect you M (please look after my daughter)… go with peace and love into your new life together. God bless the two of you.
Your father, D
P.S. I have attached a letter for L with this email
This is the letter I attached to the email…
My dearest daughter, L…
How do I convince you that I love you, always have and always will?
How can I make you remember all the times I told you I loved you?
How can I express the wonderful feeling, a mere minute after you had taken your first breath and when I held you in my arms?
How can I make you remember all the times I asked for the privilege to support you whenever you wanted me there?
How do I convey the pride I felt at all your achievements?
How can I convince you that I repeatedly asked to see more of you and for the opportunity to bond as father and daughter?
How can I make you believe that I have always wanted you in my life?
How do I express my guilt and shame that I was not able to provide more for you and your mother?
How do I communicate the pain I feel on this your wedding day and how much I wanted to be there?
How can I understand the unknown reasons why you rejected me and didn’t want me in your life? And why you did not want to talk to me?
How can I make you understand how important it was that you wanted to see more of me? And how important it was that you told me you wanted me to be at your wedding?
You cannot take away the fact that I love you and will be thinking of you with love on your wedding day… your dad
Dear husbands niece who did not invite us to her wedding:
We understood when your mother told us that the wedding would be small and only about 10 people. We were disappointed that you couldn’t tell your “favorite” uncle yourself but called your cousin and talked to her directly. We were fine until the pictures were posted on Facebook and we saw that not only were there 30-40 people at your wedding, but we and ours were the only family members who were not invited to celebrate your special day.
Since you were born your uncle has been in your life and spent nearly every single holiday with you and your family, using his vacation time to spend with your family rather than his own friends. He has given so much of himself and his time to you and your family and I am extremely hurt for HIM that you would exclude him.
Let me be clear, I am used to being excluded. It is your uncle who I am sad for. This was a really hard slap in the face, especially when he found out just how many others were invited when he wasn’t. He will tell you everything is “fine”, but deep down he is not.
The lie now brings into question everything you have ever told him. Things will change going forward. No matter how many crocodile tears are shed.
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