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

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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!

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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. 😉

  11. Reading these comments is really helping me feel a lot less crazy. Right now, we’re a week away from our RSVP “deadline” that we set for our guests. I feel like I’m losing my mind!!! I didn’t even want a big wedding. I wanted to do a destination wedding and then send everyone pictures. But, Nooooooooooooo… all our family insisted that we HAD to have a wedding so they could ALL be there. And now, we’ve barely received 25% of the RSVPs back. I keep thinking that I’m going to kill anyone that either A)Says they’re coming and then doesn’t or B)Says they’re not coming (or doesn’t respond at all) and then does show. Don’t people have any damn manners!?!?! AaaHHHHHHHH!!!

    • Just try to breathe through it. I don’t know a single bride whose guests all RSVPed on time. Some of ours never RSVPed at all, despite the simple “check yes or no” format and self-addressed stamped envelope we sent out. You’ll probably have to call a few up to get answers, but it’s all just part of the process!

    • Oh, I soooo know how you feel about the destination wedding. That’s what we really wanted and then I opened my big mouth in front of my fiance’s mother and she started to cry. I knew we were screwed then.

    • Okay, how are you planning on handling those guests who don’t RSVP by the deadline? This is a serious question for me because our venue charges per head for an all inclusive package. So we’re depending on that final count of RSVPs, not just for seating purposes but for budget purposes as well. I don’t want to become a crazed stalker demanding an RSVP but I do need to know if people are planning to attend or not.

      • Our RSVP deadline is this wknd. We posted twice on FB that after the deadline, no more RSVP’s will be accepted (providing we have hit our minimum head count). Our budget is tight and we have paid for 75, but ended up inviting 125 (knowing some wouldn’t attend). We are just not dealing with folk who don’t have the courtesy to reply on time.

        • I would probably call/email the peeps who didnt rsvp in time. Frankly, anyone who wouldn’t respond to a email/call from us probably won’t make it to the invite list, so missed deadlines will be more of a busy life/forgetfulness kind of thing. I really only want people at our wedding with whom we have a strong relationship with.

      • Here’s what you do; Call and tell them that you need an answer by X date or they’ll be marked as no. Then if you don’t hear from them or they try to call last minute, you can remind them that you had an RSVP date, and an absolute last date, they missed both, and now your numbers are locked in.

  12. I actually had this happen. My friend sent my wedding website link to her mom just to show her how cool it is that we made a website, and her mom mistook it for an actual invitation and RSVPed! My friend emailed me immediately to let me know she’d take care of it for me cause it was her mistake but once I thought about it I wanted her mom there and was surprised I didn’t think about it in the first place. Of course our guest list wasn’t very strict and it ended up working out great because my friend couldn’t make it to the wedding and it was nice to have her mom there as her “stand in”. I just wouldn’t have believed that these things really do happen so easily if it hadn’t happened to me.

    • This sort of situation, which I was on the other side of once — the groom sent me the URL; the website said “We are looking forward to seeing you at our wedding, [DATE, TIME, LOCATION]”, I RSVPed (plus one! gah!) online, showed up, gave a gift, enjoyed the small wedding at his parents’ house, went away, and didn’t realize until TWO YEARS LATER what I’d done — is exactly why I try to make it SUPER clear on our website who is invited (people who will get invitations in the mail in August).

      If I were having a 50-person or 80-person event, and could afford an extra place or two, I might not mind so much (if I liked the person), but this is a 20-person guest list — immediate family and a few close friends only. We chose to host the post-church coffee hour the next day in honor of our marriage to help with any hurt feelings: everyone who wants to can come, it’s casual, we don’t pay to rent the space, we feed them cupcakes, and maybe they like the freaky queer church and want to visit again sometime. Win-win-win.

      • So you got a URL in your email..and the website said “We look forward to seeing you..” and it also had a place to make your reservation online… isn’t that an invitation?

        I mean, what am I missing? LOL. I would have fallen for it hook, line and sinker! How did you ever figure it out??

        • Whoa. I second the motion. This is a perfect “Miss Manners Meets Modern World” situation. The language of an online invitation is identical to that of a wedding blog or online registry. Virtually everyone uses the internet for some kind of pre-wedding fraternization, be it a “wedsite” or posting photos or even the invitation itself. I’m a complete luddite and I would have TOTALLY fallen for the “invitation”.

        • Well, apparently, he was using it as a sort of engagement announcement… I DID think it was a bit odd that I was the only one from high school that was there, considering it was in our hometown and all. And his folks seemed surprised to see me. I gradually realized it really was ALL FAMILY and a few besties from college. But, hey, I got to meet the bride, who was super-super-nice and welcoming (and not awkward at all, which I was worried about when he’d “invited” me; the groom had a big crush on me in high school), and my girlfriend and I were seated with his lesbian aunts whom he’d raved on about when I came out — they were just as awesome as he’d said!

          I don’t remember why exactly I saw the light. Maybe I was reading wedding advice columns and recognized a similar situation; I felt dreadful until I tracked down the old website and confirmed the (misleading) language.

          • This seems like a excellent opportunity to take them out for a cuppa and thank them for being awesome. 🙂

  13. Sorry to jump back in again but I will say, as someone who’s worked weddings before from a food perspective, that you would be surprised at the number of people who assume their children are invited, and just SHOW UP with their kids. Seriously. I would guess that happens at about 50-60% of weddings we’ve catered. We actually build in a reserve portion of food for kids at weddings that say there won’t be children, because people just do it and I’m not going to NOT feed a child, so it’s best to have a bit of kid-friendly food on hand. But I would advise any couple choosing not to invite kids to make that explicit / ensure that word gets around to that person. Not listing their names on the invites is apparently not enough.

    • I always check – my cousin didn’t include the children on the invite but they were invited – was quite happy to make alternative arrangements if they weren’t (was looking forward to it too). Then the day of the wedding my daughter was poorly so my husband and she didn’t get to come.

      Our wedding was very specifically no children and I contacted people with children to discuss it before the invites went out. Ditto my family – explained we were only having a small do, it would be fab to see them at the church but couldn’t include them at the reception. His family, well I don’t know what they got told, not my issue! They’re his family!

  14. I haven’t been on this side of things, but I think I may have accidentally been that person once. My cousin was getting married, and my aunt asked if she’d see me there… but I never got an invitation. I said so, and she said it must have gotten lost or something… and that I should just email my cousin’s bride-to-be to let her know I’d be coming. I did so, and it didn’t occur to me until long after the wedding that my aunt may have been wrong. The bride has never seemed to like me much since then.

    Fortunately there was plenty of room, and no assigned seating, and they didn’t run out of anything… so I don’t think my presence was too inconvenient. But it was still a little weird.

    Just another perspective… it might be a genuine miscommunication, and not just a pushy non-guest!

    • Yep, your situation is exactly the most common! A well-intentioned family or friend will say something to someone they assume is being invited, which that person then interprets as an invitation. This happens with family members all the time (your aunt thought you were invited!) and coworkers (your manager assumes that since you invited her, you probably invited your coworker too) and close groups of friends.

      I’d say 90% of the time, uninvited RSVPs are the result of this kind of totally understandable miscommunication — which is part of why in my post I tried to advise being firm but also gracious and understanding. Most times, it’s awkward for everyone involved: the uninvited guest is embarrassed, the couple feels terribly, and it’s just sorta rough on everyone. A little compassion and patience goes a long way. 🙂

      • My parents have asked for the guest list, which I’m hoping keeps things smooth from here-on-out. I’m sending it to some aunts as well as an “FYI for planning the shower” since they want to throw one. Might be an option for some families to keep this to a minimum.

        • Yeah, a couple months ago I sent my mom a list of the 20ish people we’re planning to invite, and a short blurb on why we’re keeping it small. She is MUCH more extroverted than I am, and I wanted her to have something to fall back on when gossiping about me to her friends and extended family. 🙂

      • Oh dear. “A well-intentioned family or friend will say something to someone they assume is being invited, which that person then interprets as an invitation.” I hadn’t thought about it that way. I can’t picture any of our family or friends inviting themselves, but I can absolutely picture my friends making some completely understandable assumptions… in fact I think that’s already happened at least once, even though we haven’t settled on a venue let alone sent invitations.

        Maybe, on our wedding website: “We are incredibly lucky to have so many people we love and want to see. We’ve realized that if we welcome all of our loved ones at once we will be completely overwhelmed and won’t be able to spend time with anyone. There are people we love dearly but aren’t able to invite. If you need more information, please let us know. We hope everyone will understand.” Maybe just mention that to some of our close friends in conversation about the wedding too.

        Anyone else have any ideas for preventative measures?

        • We had this on our wedding website FAQ:

          • Can I bring a date?
          If your invitation says “and guest,” then yes. If it’s addressed solely to you, then no. Sorry! We want it to be a fairly cozy event full of the people we know and love. Additionally, though we’ve had a little help from our folks, we’re paying for the majority of this wedding ourselves, and can’t afford a large guest list though we love you and wish we could invite you all—we hope you understand.

          The FAQ worked wonders for us. We even edited it and printed it off along with a lot of the other info from the website to give guests from out of town as they came in. If you want to see the rest of the FAQs and the site here’s the address

  15. I was rather fortunate that the only time this occurred was with an old high school friend (who I really wasn’t in much contact with at the time) e-mailed me to say how sad she’d be to miss the wedding, as she’d be abroad. I just said we felt that being abroad would be more exciting and said we’d share pictures if she did, which was all true.

  16. When I invited my dad, I invited him sans the +1 because I did not him to bring his ex that he still lived with. (Yeah that’s a lovely story)

    He knew what I meant and actually did not want to bring her, but knew he would have a lot of hassles if he didn’t. He called and asked permission, and she did behave as he promised.

    In the end I had to weigh what was going to be least stressful for everyone.

    I also had about 10 people who RSVP’d and did not show up (which hurt us), but about 5 others who were last minute additions. It worked out.

    There were people I know I should have invited, but didn’t due to paying for it ourselves. If I had found out that they had actually really wanted to go, I probably would have been ok with it. With MOST people 😉

    I think when its something that is due to unclear communication, its better to err on the side of caution unless your budget really is super strict or you really don’t want them there.

    Luckily the economy is such that when you explain how limited the budget is, most people will understand if you use it as an excuse.

    Sorry to ramble =)

  17. I’m getting married in October so I haven’t dealt with this situation yet, but I have been unfriendly by one of my cousins on fb, and I’m pretty sure it’s because she isn’t invited. She unfriended me right after I sent out save the dates.

  18. This is really, really useful advice, and while I have a little while before invitations go out, I’ll probably need to use it. My FMIL is being pretty good about making sure everyone knows it’s a small wedding and not harassing me to invite anyone (with the exception of at one point telling me “there are some non-negotiables in my family that have to be invited” – I didn’t appreciate being told that when the fiance and I are footing the entire bill, but at least it was people I had planned to invite anyway, so I let it go).

    My mother on the other hand is starting to harass me about cousins and aunts and uncles that I haven’t seen in years and who I never talk to. One of the first things she did when we told her about the engagement was to call my uncle (her brother) and a couple of his kids, who are all older than me, to tell them. I told her I would probably not invite them – she, of course, got outraged over it. I pointed out that none of us are close, we never talk at all, we live in different states, and they obviously feel the same way about the whole thing because two of my three cousins are married and didn’t invite us to the wedding. My mom’s response? “Oh, they invited us, I just forgot to tell you and we didn’t go.”

    Thanks, Mom. I can already see the “Sorry, you’re not invited” conversations I’m going to have to have with them.

  19. I accidently crashed a wedding once.
    My boyfriend (Chris, age 27)’s cousin was getting re-married. Chris and his immediate family invited me out to the beach house for the weekend of the wedding. We all travel to the wedding together, and his dad points out that I don’t have a seat at the table and makes a server “fix” the “mistake.” I thought to myself: “Chris wasn’t supposed to bring a date,” asked him and he said “That is ridiculous, why wouldn’t they have me bring a date?”
    Two years later at the beach house his cousin apologized for not inviting me… confirming I wasn’t supposed to be there.
    Not all crashers know ahead of time that they are crashing. 🙂

  20. I could never understand the concept of badgering for an invite or just showing up for a wedding uninvited. I’ve always just assumed if I don’t get an invite or don’t hear it from the bride or groom themselves, I’m not invited.

    For instance, a few years ago, two of my friends got married to each other. While they are my friends, we were never particularly close. I didn’t get an invite, but wasn’t upset about it at all. We weren’t real close and I knew the wedding was small. Not a big deal. In the months leading up to it, however, I got asked a couple of times if I would be there and once got told I should come anyway by someone because they were “sure” my invite must have gotten overlooked. I reiterated my stance about not having an invite, be it in paper or verbal form, and stressed it really wasn’t a big deal. And it really wasn’t. I got to see them a few days later at a Med Fair and got to hug and congratulate them then. And got pictures forced on me, lol. But it really floored me how someone would try to invite me without knowing FOR SURE if I was invited or not.

    What really floored me, a week or so before the wedding, I was hanging out with my best friend (who was the maid of honor) and the bride came by to pick something up for the wedding. She apologized profusely for not inviting me to the wedding, explaining what I had already known about the small venue. I told her there was no reason to apologize, I totally understood and it wasn’t a big deal, and that it was her day to pick who is there and screw what anyone else says. I didn’t understand the absolute look of relief on her face and the hug I got after I said that but now, reading all the horror stories on here about the same situation, I can see why she was so grateful now.

  21. I had a situation with a wedding that my boyfriend was invited to. I can’t remember details, but I think the invite was for him and his Mum. The wedding/reception was a few hours out of town. All three of us booked a cabin nearby and drove down for the weekend. I went with them to the actual ceremony, but stayed in the cabin while they went to the reception. Half an hour later, my boyfriend had returned to tell me I was actually invited and there was a place setting for me, so I raced to get presentable again and headed off!

    The bride was very apologetic but we laughed it off and I didn’t miss too much!

  22. So, we had a rule about guests that if someone hadn’t at least met both of us before our wedding, we weren’t going to invite them. There was exactly one exception to this rule, for someone who’d been out of country but was a close, dear friend… enter the awkward, agonizing conversation when another good friend assumed he and his wife were invited with their small son. In person, I froze, and hemmed and hawed about reasons it’d be difficult to have their small child, there (Ours was a midnight ceremony on New Year’s Eve, and their beautiful 2 year old would crash out well before ceremony)

    “Oh, it’s ok, we’ll just come and drink and party and leave when he crashes out.”

    “Oh.” I was at a loss. That idea kinda stuck in my craw, but that wasn’t the point – these were friends I’d been close to once upon a time – I was a bridesmaid in their wedding several years ago. But they’d never met my husband in our 4 years together, and I was sticking to our rule.

    I agonized over what to say, and how to say it, and it killed me to think I was hurting their feelings, because I’m the kind of people-pleaser that’d rather suck it up. BUT this was our rule, and I owed it to my husband and my self not to cave. So.

    I sent him an email.

    “I should have just said in the beginning that we’d love to have you watch our wedding – that’s the whole reason we’re streaming it, is so that folks can watch it happen. We’ve operated under a very strict rule that everyone invited have at least met both of us – and honestly, we haven’t sent invitations yet, but when you invited yourselves, I was both surprised you’d want to come, and unsure what to say. Your friendship was a huge part of my college life and memories, and I treasure it.

    Unfortunately, (hubby) and I awkwardly but lovingly need to communicate to you that while we appreciate your enthusiastic interest in attending our party, we regret that we cannot invite you to join us in person. We hope that you have a lovely vacation and enjoy your holidays, and are happy to let you know about how to watch the ceremony online if you are interested in that portion of the evening. I love you, and hope we can all get together some time so that you *can* meet (hubby), and I think you both would hit it off. I’m sorry that we can’t each invite everyone we’d really like to, but we just can’t. Being a grown-up and making these hard decisions just plain sucks.”

    He was very understanding, and we’re ok. I do wish we could have been devil-may-care and invited errrrrrrrrybody, but we couldn’t. So, this language helped us where we needed to awkwardly stand firm. Hope it helps someone else in that awkward position.

    • “So, we had a rule about guests that if someone hadn’t at least met both of us before our wedding, we weren’t going to invite them.”

      I wish we could have this rule. There are people that neither I nor my fiance have met being invited to our wedding. Reason? They are “dear friends” of my parents who they have made friends with since I started living away from home just a few years ago. As my parents are paying, they do have a significant say in the guest list.

      However, why do these friends want to come to the wedding of a person they have never met? Why is it okay for my parents to invite people I’ve never met, but yet every friend my fiance and I want to invite gets us all sorts of highly judgmental, sometimes even hostile, comments if the friend doesn’t meet their standards for a “close friend”? (They object to friends we first met on the internet, and heaven forbid they find out that we haven’t met some of these people in person. They don’t understand how internet friendships can be important.)

      I’ve been told that I should just put up with it because the wedding is a time for my parents to “show me off” to their friends. One close friend of my mother’s (who is also a friend of mine) even told me that inviting our friends wasn’t important and that she would throw a separate party for them later if we wanted. (A nice offer in some ways, but no. We want our friends to see us get married.)

      I kind of hope some of these people I’ve never met don’t attend, because we’d be expected to interact with them, and we’d rather be talking to relatives and friends. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish, but why should talking to complete strangers be part of our wedding day when that is not what we wanted?

      • You said: “‘So, we had a rule about guests that if someone hadn’t at least met both of us before our wedding, we weren’t going to invite them.’ I wish we could have this rule.”

        But you CAN have this rule. Tell the parents that you’re paying for it yourself, thank you very much, and you’ll be making the decisions from now on. I’d rather have a super-minimal wedding that my fiance and I planned than a big bash that I had no say over.

        And since when is a wedding all about the parents showing off to their friends? Whatever happened to it being about love and commitment? Sheesh!

        • KA said, “As my parents are paying, they do have a significant say in the guest list.”

          Jenny said, “Tell the parents that you’re paying for it yourself, thank you very much, and you’ll be making the decisions from now on.”

          that would only work if they could afford to pay for it themselves :/

          • Well, it depends on what your priorities are, doesn’t it? If your priority is to have a big party that you can’t afford by yourselves, you have to trade off some control to whoever is helping foot the bill.

            If your priority is to do things your own way, you either need to scale your expectations to your budget or save up for a while so you can have a bigger budget.

      • My parents are helping pay for our venue and as appreciative as we are they are also inviting a bunch of their friends that we’ve only met maybe once or not at all. We wanted it small and just our intimate friends and family. I do feel horrible complaining about this when so many have to pay for their own but I wish we could but we just can’t and wouldn’t ever be able too. 🙁

    • That’s actually a pretty damn sweet message. I’d be charmed out of any disappointment to receive that. 🙂

  23. We had an aunt and uncle, which we invited, notifying us that they would come. With their kids. Whom we did not invite.

    My husband politely emailed them to tell them that, sorry, we we’re keeping it relatively small because of the maximum size of the venue, and the kids were not invited. He also wrote that the kids would probably be bored, because we didn’t invite any kids at all, so they’d have nobody to play with and there were no arranged activities for them.

    They still showed up with their kids.

    I think that was very rude and I was frustrated about it, but I decided it was not going to help telling them how I felt, so I just let go about it and enjoyed the day.

  24. I really like this article and I have a related follow-up question: What do you do when there’s someone you don’t want at your wedding? I’m mean REALLY don’t want there. Perhaps it’s someone who wasn’t invited for very strong, personal reasons. Or perhaps someone’s attitude or actions are physically or mentally harmful.

    Any suggestions?

    • I had to deal with this at my wedding– 2 of my bridesmaids were dating guys who I COULD NOT STAND. One of them just wants to get into fights when he drinks (& I guarantee he would have), & the other was a scumbag who knows that I don’t like him. In order to not point fingers or make anybody feel excluded, I didn’t allow a +1 for everybody in that small circle of friends (unless they were married of course). This avoided the awkward situation of “well she can bring a date, why can’t I?” & everybody still had a blast– actually, they seemed to have even MORE fun without dates! It brought back the “roomates in college at a cocktail party” vibe. No drama, no fights, & no awkwardness.

    • I’ve appointed my partners nephew who is a nightclub bouncer to potentially deal with one or two people I am worried might turn up x

      I have a problem however with a particular drama queen at work who is insistent that her husband come. We weren’t giving plus ones to work colleagues as we felt that affects the dynamics of a “girls night out” for colleagues and also we don’t want people there we don’t know. On top of this I have a strong suspicion that he is homophobic and is just attending to “see what lesbians do”

    • I think I’m in a similar situation – my fiance’s biological dad is a vile, violent man that fiance never wants to set eyes on again, but said biological dad is somehow on good terms with fiance’s sister. God knows how im going to stop him turning up but even if it takes a restraining order and an army of bodyguards (and changing our venue from beautiful stone circles to somewhere private) I will not let him ruin our day

  25. I just remembered that once I kind of crashed a wedding. My college room mate Erin was getting married, and she sent me an invitation. Unfortunately, it arrived in the mail in the middle of a time when I was going through an awful upheaval (ending a long-term live-in relationship, finding a new place to live, dropping out of grad school – the whole nine yards). I called her and explained that I just didn’t think I had it in me to commit to traveling pack to our college town for a wedding and she was very understanding. Two months went by and as her wedding day drew near I found myself feeling much better (had a new place to live and had come to grips with all mah shit). I realized that I was actually going to be back in our college town visiting family the weekend of her wedding, but I had already RSVPed in the negative. I was talking on the phone with our third college room mate Danielle, who was attending the wedding, and she said “You know, the ceremony is in a big church in town – why don’t you just come with me to the ceremony? It won’t make a difference to have one more person in the audience, and then you can say hi afterwards and take off before the reception!”

    So, I did that. I was really glad I got to see Erin tie the knot (I bawled the whole time – ok, maybe I didn’t TOTALLY have a grip on mah shit) but post-ceremony everything was such a blur that I didn’t get to actually say anything to the bride and groom! We waved and Erin looked really pleased to see me, but I wanted to have a moment to tell them how happy I was for them… so I followed Danielle to the reception, figuring I’d say hello and congrats to the couple and then jet.

    I got there and as I was coming in I saw the bride’s mother. She seemed kind of surprised that I was there, but she gave me a warm welcome. I said,”Barb, I swear I won’t eat anything! I just want to say hi to Erin and then I’ll leave!” but Barb would have none of it – she insisted that since it was buffet-style I should just grab a seat and stay, so I did! Erin and her new husband seemed glad that I joined them, and five years later we have a funny story about me crashing their wedding.

    What made it not awkward was that everyone made their best intentions known up front, and acted graciously. If it had been a sit-down plated dinner though, I probably wouldn’t have crashed at all!

  26. This makes me think of my friend who ago married a few years ago, they wanted to keep their wedding cheap so their idea was that certain people were invited to the ceremony and the dance, but not the dinner. (which to me is just confusing and doesn’t make sense, maybe it’s just me)

    Anyways, he was so angry that some of these people who weren’t supposed to be there for the dinner showed up anyways(I think 3 people in total) and to this day still bitches that they had to pay for those people’s dinners.

    How were they supposed to know they weren’t there for dinner, you had place cards out for them? I feel like my friend was in the wrong on this one to be honest.

    • Well not inviting them for the food part/the part they had to pay per head for makes sense to me if they wanted to keep their costs down, but laying out place cards sure doesnt! Dont know what he was thinking there

  27. This post inspired me to go through my guest list to have A’s and B’s. Our first summer together some friends of ours got married, and I was little surprised to not receive and invite to the wedding since everyone else in our circle was going. I assumed it was a budget and space thing and I wasn’t worried. I found out my fiance had been planning on attending and I explained to him about the invite. He happened to run into the groom at a party shortly before the wedding, and when asked if we were attending (since we hadn’t RSVPed) told him we hadn’t been invited. The groom was shocked, and looking through his bag for the “spare invite” he carried with him realized that he had been mistakenly carrying OUR invite in his computer bag to show people (another friend had designed it and he was bragging about their skills). We attended the wedding and had a great time.

  28. We had people write in names of extra guests on their RSVPs. Even though I literally put the names of the people invited and a column for yes and a column for no, and left no room for writing in extra names. They still did it. I know this is somewhat like having to tell people that they don’t get plus ones, but when it’s after they’ve decided to self-invite someone, even though you’ve gone to great lengths to explain why there is no room for plus ones, that’s super rough.

    It made me insanely angry. I couldn’t invite some of my own more-distant family members, but my husband’s 16 year old cousin’s highschool boyfriend, who was not invited, gets to attend? I don’t think so. This happened several times, all on my husband’s side. I asked him to deal with it, because I had not even met these family members yet. It was a huge fight, that actually made us consider calling off the wedding. He was very disappointed when some of his cousins decided they wouldn’t come after finding out that their uninvited write-in dates couldn’t come.

    My explanation to him was this:
    1) It’s awkward, but you didn’t create the situation. They did. These people were being rude, and put you in a very difficult situation, so they must not have cared/thought much about you when doing that in the first place.
    2) It would be rude to the extra person, not even knowing that they weren’t invited and having resentful feelings directed at them during the wedding.
    3) If the cousin decided not to show up because their date couldn’t come, then they obviously weren’t very committed to coming to the wedding to support you, and were only coming because it sounded like a good time. I’d prefer to have the room filled with people who are there because I love them and want to share in my day, not people I don’t even know who are only concerned with free booze.

    • Yet another reason why we’re having a booze-free wedding. With no dancing. 🙂

      We want to see the people who really WANT to be there and witness our ceremony even if we don’t have a big bash (although we’ll do our best to make it simple and inexpensive for them, and serve food and cake, and talk to them like gracious hosts), not those who just want to have a night out and would be on the fence if there was no bar.

  29. This post and all of the comments have been super-helpful!

    My mother has a “more the merrier! invite the mailman!” attitude to parties, which is just fine for her barbecues, but is not what I want or can afford for my wedding.

    I think sharing my guest list with her was really important to ensure that she’s aware of who is invited and doesn’t misspeak and accidentally invite someone. (Plus, my wedding is on the other side of the country, where I live, so she’s been using the excuse of “Oh, you know Amy! She is having a small destination wedding” whenever she feels awkward about not inviting someone.”

    Fortunately, after I explained our criteria for the guest list, my mom has been pretty cool about me not inviting the vast majority of her cousins and friends.
    Our guests must meet these four standards:
    – Do I actually know this person? (Her potential guest list had relatives from Europe who I have never met.) Do they know us as a couple?
    – Have I seen this person in recent years?
    – Am I close with this person?
    – Would I be happy if this person came to my wedding?

    The comments do have me a little nervous about the online RSVP form that I’ll be using on my wedding site. I think I’ll just have to include very clear language, especially because half our guests will receive mail invites and half will receive Paperless Post (we did a survey to see who’d prefer an evite).

  30. I’ve only been ‘officially engaged’/planning for a week and I’ve already had at least half a dozen friends from school pull me aside to ‘make sure they were invited to the wedding’. Add to that the nightmarishly long guest wish list my future MIL is preparing, and I think we have a perfect recipe for this article to be useful.
    If it helps anyone else, my response to ‘confirmation that so-n-so would be invited’ is “As much as I view my school friends as family, we’re on a very tight budget so I feel uncomfortable making any promises that we might not be able to afford to keep.” It’s worked well for me so far, since all my college friends are just as broke as me. Hope this helps someone!!!

    • My fiance decided to announce our engagement on facebook before we’d planned anything, and oh boy, that was a nightmare and a half. Luckily we hadnt set a date yet so all of the couple hundred people who invited themselves just…still think we havent decided yet… #sorrynotsorry

  31. I’m happy this was posted, because it’s a issue that I foresee dealing with at our wedding.

    My dad’s wife is a very difficult person to be around, and we have had serious issues with each other in the past. We are not currently having issues in large part because I have minimised contact, but in an ideal world I would not like to invite an emotionally abusive woman to our wedding.

    My question is if anyone has had experiences with refusing to invite parents or their partners to their wedding, and how they’ve handled it.

    • Do you want to invite your father and not his wife, or neither? How large of a wedding are you having? If you’re having a very small wedding, then it might be easier not to invite her, your reason being that you’re not close to her. But otherwise it might be tough. My fiance is not inviting his father and his current wife, but he broke contact with him a year and a half ago, in part because of his wife. The wife is very disrespectful, and my fiance’s brother refused to let her see their baby after a big conflict, and their father refuses to go without her, so their son now doesn’t know his grandfather at all. So if you want to have a relationship with your father definitely consider what would happen to that if you don’t invite her. If you do decide to invite them hopefully you can seat them far away from you and try to put them with people she may get along with or at least won’t fight with! Good luck!

    • I feel your pain truly, my stepmother is crazy. Her and I had a horrible falling out about a year and a half ago. However recently her and I have been doing well. Her and my father split up again it was a normal thing. So I went off on her the last time. I had more then enough of it, needless to say they got back together, always do. When they did I said things were not back to normal with her and I. That we had to start over to the point I didn’t even want a hug hello. I don’t know if its what I said or us restarting but we have been great longer now then since they have been together.
      Talking to her about both of your issues is a good but not so easy conversation. Another option invite her because your dad will want her there and you don’t have to spend time with her there.

  32. The guest list is one of the biggest argument points between my mom and me. She and my dad are covering the cost, so she gets a significant say in guest list, but I’m still a little terrified at the number of people she’s planning on inviting. Not counting any family friends or any of my FH and I’s friends, the total she has is 415. These are all people who are non-negotiable. I probably don’t know most of them. My FH and I’s thoughts of having a small wedding (because we are both really shy and private people) has basically gone completely out the window. Le sigh.
    I wish there was a way I could convince her to edit her guest list, but so far she’s not budging.

    • 415?! Holy shit!
      No offence but if it were me I’d tell them to keep their money and I’d have my small wedding. 415 people from one side is madness!

      • You took the words right out of my mouth! If all I could afford were a trip to the courthouse and a nice dinner out with five friends, I’d rather do that and forfeit all the “big wedding” hoopla if it meant that my fiance and I got to make the decisions about our day. This mom sounds like she’s trying to live vicariously through the daughter, and that ain’t right.

      • Yeah that is crazy! 🙁
        Is there a way to discuss with her that the point of this wedding is to celebrate the two of you as a couple, and the lives you’ve built together, so it only makes sense to invite people who are a part of that life together, which doesn’t include people you haven’t even met.

        If she really cares about the two of you, I would hope that she would come to understand that it is about what the two of you want, not her.

        Of course you’ll work together and compromise, but the two of you need a definite say.

        Maybe you should consider not having her pay for the wedding and do something small for yourselves instead. Even if you don’t have a traditional reception, if it would make you happier.. consider it. Another option could be to do the intimate thing another time, and let her throw the big party if that really makes her happy, but have what you want too. Or maybe compromise on having an intimate ceremony, and then a large reception.
        You don’t want to look back in 20 years and regret it. Of course all that matters is that the two of you are married and people you love are there to share it with you, but you definitely don’t want to be unhappy on your wedding day!
        Good luck 🙂

  33. I can definitely relate to this! And I am guilty of being someone afraid of confrontation and I know we have a problem and I haven’t said anything about it. We have a close group of friends from college, and there’s one person who was the roommate of one of one of my bridesmaids and she came along with big group things for several years, now we only see her when she gets invited to big group get-togethers, and neither my fiance or I really care for her (Ok, he can’t stand her). I never initiate contact with her, but she’s the type of person to send you a message just because she’s bored. Anyway, we were at a big group together this summer and she asked me when the wedding was, so I told her, and then she said she needed to know because she needed to put in for the day off at work. Ack. We weren’t going to invite her. And a lot of our friends think we should be nice to her because she’s a mutual friend, and I feel bad now not inviting her because she assumes she’s invited, but I know that my fiance will be upset if she’s there because he can’t stand her. But I’m so anti-confrontational that it’s been months and I’ve been afraid to say anything to her. I don’t know if she realizes she hasn’t gotten a Save the Date and others have.. and I dread telling her, though I know I should sooner than later… ugh. And I feel guilty and feel like we should just invite her, but like I said, my fiance can’t stand her and he’ll be complaining if she shows up and I don’t want negative feelings on my wedding day!

    • Hi,

      I know this was a long time ago, but I was just wondering how this all worked out. We are in a similar situation. We have a group of friends, but I can’t stand one girl (who is also a coworker of my fiance, and dating a friend/coworker of my fiance’s…that’s how she ended up in the group, before I knew I couldn’t stand her!)

      Either way, we are inviting our group of friends, but we are not inviting this couple. However, our friends talk about the wedding all the time, and one of the girls is my bridesmaid. The boyfriend of this girl has said to my fiance and I multiple times how much he is looking forward to our wedding and how much fun it will be. We haven’t told them they aren’t invited (under the guise of “no coworkers”). I try to drop little hints, like commenting that my list of just family is more than we plan on inviting to the whole wedding, or flat out saying we aren’t inviting coworkers at all. The problem? The consider themselves friends first, coworkers second (for us, its the other way around!)

      How did you handle it with this girl? Did she get the hint from the STDs. That’s what I’m hoping happens here…

      • Aha, the hint from the STDs. That’d probably work!

        …I know, I’m childish.

  34. Just a cautionary note. My niece, and her fiance, have been celebrating their engagement pretty joyously on their facebook pages. My nephew to be had a professional photographer take engagement pics that are gorgeous (so romantic!). They’ve posted about several of their planning activities. Immediately, various fb friends started posting “I want to come!” and “Be sure to invite me!”, etc. Knowing they have a tight budget and will have to have a limited guest list I’ve wondered if this isn’t going to lead to some awkward conversations, particularly given they’ve each a few hundred “friends” and tons of relatives. I can’t really offer any solutions to this, but wonder how etiquette is going to evolve to accommodate fb.

  35. Our crashers didn’t RSVP before the wedding (since, after all, they weren’t invited); they just showed up. I was annoyed, but we just shrugged it off. Some people we’d counted on didn’t show up after all (death in the family, not rudeness), so we weren’t short on food or anything, and even though it was rude, we dealt with MUCH worse that weekend, so in the big scheme of things it didn’t seem so bad.

  36. We had a small guest list of 25 people and no children. Hubby has 99 relatives on his dad’s side (most in Mexico), so we def. had to limit it to only immediate family and a few close friends. However, right before the wedding, he suddenly tells me he saw one of his uncles at his dad’s house and thought we should invite him (his dad’s idea).

    I was against it since I’d never heard of this uncle (who lives in the same city!), hubby hadn’t seen him in years, and he obviously wasn’t that important to our wedding considering hubby hadn’t thought of him in the year of planning. Well, I caved and told him that was fine and sent them an invite (had to call FIL to find out his wife’s name–should have been a sign they didn’t need to be there).

    Sooo day of the wedding their seats are empty. Super rude, but whatever, awkwardness solved. Or so I thought. They show up AFTER the freaking ceremony, during the pictures! Wait, wait, here’s the best part…. with their kids AND their kids’ DATES!!! UMMMMM, what?! +1s weren’t allowed for anyone — MIL, best man, one of my girlfriends, etc!! (Our criteria was that they were married or we had to know them personally)

    Our reception was at a bowling alley, and the lanes, shoes, food, etc. were reserved for only a certain #. I told hubby they couldn’t stay and had his dad tell them there was no room. Okay, now problem solved, right? NOPE. We show up to the alley and BAM! there they all are. They paid to have their own lane. Why? Who knows… they didn’t speak to us the entire night, no introductions, nothing… I don’t even know any of their names!!! With such an intimate wedding, it was 1000x more awkward since they couldn’t “blend” in the crowd. Still annoyed to this day.

  37. Mine showed up anyways: my step sister-in-law said her kids were coming (met them once- at her wedding) period. This was 4 extra people.

  38. This happened to me not once, but TWICE. The reason: I have about 30 first cousins. Both our budget and our personal wishes firmly capped our guest list at 75. We knew we were treading on dangerous ground, but I felt I had no choice but to, well, to make some choices.

    The first time, I sent a carefully worded email, to the person, a teenaged cousin, as soon as I received her RSVP. She never responded – I think she was too mortified. We have communicated since then in a friendly way, however, so I think we’ve both recovered.

    The second time, the person in question was another cousin who left my mother a voicemail THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING announcing he was on his way. Having a million things to do, I panicked and delegated returning his call to my mom. I really regret this. She called his mother instead of him, and was, well, a little indelicate. I feel I embarrassed and hurt both my cousin and his parents, and I wish I’d handled it myself – directly, honestly, and with compassion.

  39. Really like this article, but there is a theme I’ve noticed in some of the offbeat bride articles that makes them a bit harder for me to implement. My wedding is NOT small. Both my fiance and I wanted a huge bash, so there will be around 250 people at my wedding. Even with a large number we have to be somewhat selective (250 is the max our reception venue will hold), there are still people (people we did theatre with in high school, college acquaintances, random church folk ect.) that we are not inviting. I’m pretty good at coming up with a nice, direct response to things like this, but it would be nice if one of the optional responses didn’t fall back on the size of the guest list.

    • I agree with you. I think that instead you can use the venue size in your response. That’s what I’ve been doing with my 130ish-person venue.

  40. I had two similar situations happen to us. Our rsvps had the max number of guests ( like ___ of 2 guest will attend)and someone actually scratched out the 2 and wrote in 3, and another person who “requested” an extra seat before sending in the rsvp. In both cases I flat out told them no and i didn’t feel bad about it. The first person ended retracting their rsvp altogether, and the other came without the “extra”. I also recently had a situation where someone came up to me at a family funeral and tried to make me feel guilty for not inviting them, and that they’ve been unable to let it go for the past 4 months and have been taking crap about it to anyone who will listen. Mind you, this person is neither related to me, or a friend of ours.

    I’ve never been insulted or felt that someone was obligated to invite me to anything, but unfortunately many people feel otherwise

    • I had been thinking of doing the same thing with the RSVPs- “_ out of 2” so we it would be clear and make things easier. At least you didn’t have more people adding guests! I wonder if you’d have had more if you hadn’t done it that way.

      Since our guest list is only about 56 people, and only 38ish separate invites, I’m hoping we can pull off the Online-only RSVP. I’ve set it up on my website and the only way you can RSVP through it is to type in your name and it will check for it on our guest list, and then it should show up with only the names of the invited guests for that party and you can respond yes/no and enter dinner choice, and it’s all integrated into our online guest list, and will gather all the dinner info for us easily into one list too… so I don’t lose any invites 🙂 I’m hoping that will work out OK for us and keep us from having any unexpected guests! 🙂

      • That sounds like a RSVP tool that I’d love to use! Is it a free online tool or did you make it yourself? Sounds like a good way of limiting uninvited guests if you can only RSVP for the specific number of ppl listed in your party. 🙂 Thanks in advance!!

  41. My future mother-in-law has put a date for her brother (a widower) on our guest list. I have taken the date off as my fiance’s uncle is not seeing anyone. I have a feeling the date topic is going to come up again. My solution will be to explain to who ever that if he gets to bring a date then my aunt (recent widow), my uncle on another side, my mom, and my dad will all be allowed dates (all not seeing anyone). That is five extra people! Plus I would feel guilty about not letting one of my brothers and one of my sisters bringing dates. Then there are three cousins two of which I am close to that might need dates beacuse what is 3 more? I’m already allowing serious relationships so I don’t feel guilty about not letting anyone bring random dates. Plus, not ever meeting any dates of my parents in the 26 years they’ve been seperated I would feel weird allowing them dates.

  42. Perhaps it’s a bit cowardly of me, but part of my contingency plan for this situation is the location of the wedding/receptions. I don’t expect much of my family in OH to drive to NY for a wedding, so that alleviates my worry about some 400 people on that side. We’ll have a second reception in Ohio catered by a dear family friend and his wife (a Chinese family that has adopted my parents as their own) to include that side of the family. And if they don’t care for Chinese food and choose not to come, it’s their loss: Sheng is a heck of a cook!

    Secondly, Fiancee and I are planning to start a wildlife rescue and/or education center, so I think it would be a Great Idea to have the ceremony and/or NY reception at the center where we work now… with its many inhabitants as invited guests/entertainment. But, by making it known that yes, our ENTIRE New York family will be there– scales, feathers, fur, and all– I know some people will send regrets because they’re put off by the animals we work with… and that’s okay. While it’s not as though we’ll be serving punch from the top of the rattlesnake enclosure, we know that what we do isn’t for everybody. Those that decline have an excuse (There are snakes!) but we’ve welcomed them into a day we’re going to enjoy the heck out of, whether they’re there to share in it or not.

  43. I’m SO thankful that I recently read this post. I just had to deal with this exact situation. Some crazy friends of my uncle’s emailed my Grandma begging to be invited to our wedding (they live in a nearby state and want to see my Grandma when she’s here for the wedding). She emailed back and CCd me “Consider yourself invited! See you in July!” I immediately called her and politely/calmly explained that we couldn’t invite them and she needed to tell them that. They’re welcome to spend time with her while she’s in town, but they’re not coming to my wedding or any of the events.

    I explained that we’re already at capacity for our venue and we want to have our closest friends and family as guests because that’s the wedding we want and that’s the wedding we can afford (we’re paying for our own wedding, so stressing what we can afford seems to usually be effective with our families).

    She was kind of upset at first but then she understood and she regretted her off-the-cuff email invite. I just sent her and some other outspoken people the guest list so that this hopefully doesn’t happen again.

    Anyway, thank you, Offbeat Bride! I used a lot of the tactics you suggested — I tackled the situation immediately and held my ground while also trying to appreciate the fact that these people just want to be part of a fun event with my family.

  44. I know I am a little behind as far as reading this but I am just now dealing with this situation and its annoying since the invites have been out to everyone for a few weeks. I have been blessed by the fact my father has been traditional by offering to take on a large chunk of our budget. The downside is my father isn’t the type of person who says okay this is your budget but let me know if you need a little more, it sometimes might as well be threats bad with staying on exact budget and not even a dollar over his budget. Granted its fair for him to do its an amazing gift and I have 4 sisters and 1 brother he got screwed for weddings haha. So understanding this along with the fact there is no way for my fiance and I to have a small wedding due to divorces and remarriages of all our parents we will have 8 parents and 13 siblings when we get married….no way to do anything small with that army. So keeping this in mind and us both having big close families his mostly in Seattle and Ohio then mine mostly in West Virginia and Ohio. We are having the wedding in Ohio since we currently live here, anyways we have invited some extended family members like 3rd cousins but that’s due to us talking to them and seeing them as often as we see first cousins. Due to that we did invite a few people we only see once or twice a year because we do love them and want them to be there plus to do what we thought would avoid the whole why do they get to come but not us thing. Now our wedding is kid friendly but we did not invite the kids of 3 out of the 4 people we wanted there but did it more to save face. Now at this point you are probably wondering why we didn’t invite the kids…well once person is my grandmothers sister who is in her mid 80s, her daughter and husband are 2 more of the 4. They have 5 kids plus 2 or 3 are in serious relationships and 1 has a child. Then the 4th person is her son who I don’t know how many times he has claimed to be married but the last count of kids he has that I herd was 13. I have met more since I herd that count but he has I believe only 5 who live with him and all 4 girls have babies and his son creeps me out like tried to make out with me creep me out…I don’t care how far the cousin rang goes were still blood and that’s ICKY! His kids/mothers are between the ages of 16 and maybe 25 and their kids are between the ages of about a year and 6 I believe I have not met them all. So needless to say to invite them all would be a huge cost. Now after knowing this I sent the invites just to the adults, now my 88 year old grandmother is on my back trying to guilt me into letting just the husband and wife couple bring their kids well its not that I don’t love them and wouldn’t really enjoy them being there but then where do I draw the line. Plus just that family 7 to 13 people if the kids have dates is another 150 to 250 in food cost, not to mention cost of another table center piece, the cost of table liens and all that other stuff I don’t think people think about or know goes into each person who attends a wedding. That is my current problem so any advice on how to address them or my grandmother about it please do help. I have told my grandmother that its not that I don’t want their kids to be there or that I don’t love them because I do but I cant afford for all of them to be there and so we invited who we felt had to be there to stay on budget. Any other steps please I should take pleases let me know, because again the invites have even been to the people in Seattle for a few weeks and my wedding is in less then 60 days away!

  45. My sister just broke up with her boyfriend (who I’m not fond of anyway), though they’re going to try to be friends, and one of the first things he asks her is “I’m still invited to the wedding, right?”. Umm, no, I don’t think so! There’s enough time before the wedding that it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but still it worries me.

    And don’t get me started on the drama my mother is causing with the guest list, inviting and even UNinviting people all over the place!

  46. I so feel these posts! My fiance had some relatives that he hasn’t talked to since 1998 contact him to ask why they didn’t get a save the date card. Really?!? How ridiculous is that? And his mom threw him under the bus because they contacted her first and she (knowing we are having a smaller wedding) told the relative to contact him and ask. Ridiculous.

  47. Since my wedding was yesterday I can let you know what ended up having happen with mine, the guest I didnt want to invite but got invited via my grandma and dad showed up. I can honestly tell you I didnt notice, you will be so busy having people taking your picture, talking to you and trying to get your attention that unless its a small wedding you wont notice. After the wedding was over I was exhausted, starving and felt like I was unable to talk to 50% of the people in attendance just because going to get a drink took me almost a half hour by the time you talk to everyone between where the drinks are and where you are sitting haha. It was a fantastic time and honestly in the end those people ended up way better behaved then I had expected and I had some people I thought for sure were going to be there and didnt show so I didnt go over head count or anything. So it all worked out beautifully!

  48. My great friend and fellow Wedding Vendor Heather Curiel told me last week that there was a blog I needed to see/read! It’s called the Off beat Bride and it will rock your world may have been her exact words….world rocked. Love your concept/content and the moxy to be different!

  49. I’m very much a people pleaser so I tend to invite way more people than I can handle. Also, I tend to friend people who can be really thunder stealing, not really good in a wedding situation. Our wedding was really awkward because we invited people from all over that we knew and they didn’t really mix well. I wish I had the balls to tell them to “f” off.

  50. My wedding is in six weeks and my father’s current wife has informed everyone that she will attend the wedding and the rehearsal dinner whether invited or not (and she has not been invited). She does not know me or my fiancé, so I do not understand her desire to attend. Any suggestions???

  51. We are a long way from our wedding (we’re waiting til after my college graduation in 2 years), but even since the hypothetical wedding-talk stage, we’ve been running into this problem: I am not close to mother for a number of reasons, including some deep personal issues that I fear could disrupt celebrations; these same issues seem to be keeping her from realizing we feel uncomfortable around her in the first place. Is there some way to avoid inviting her, even though her grown children and parents are likely to be there? I’m worried about how very transparent our tight-budget excuse will be (though it’s not untrue for other uninvited relatives). Any advice? Please?

  52. I have the exact same problem!! A distant uncle decided to invite himself to the wedding, and at first I was not happy with it at all – he’s very loud and obnoxious (and a little bit racist, as well!!), so I was very unsure whether he should come or not. In the end, we decided to invite him, as we still have some space for extra guests, and he will be good company for my dad… I’m still not crazy about the idea, but my gut tells me to just go with it… 🙂

  53. I loove this site and reading these tips that would make me feel less awkward in my day! We decided we will have a May wedding, but still, I created a secret group in FB and decided that the people who we will add are those people who will be invited in the wedding and reception! ^^ this is what I posted!

    Hi guys! So we’ve finally, and I say FINALLY to have our “happily ever after” this year and we would like YOU to be part of this happy occasion since you have been part of our long engagement and our lives! ?

    However, the ceremony will be relatively SMALL, only relatives, close friends who’ve known us through our 9-year relationship. So we would really appreciate it if you keep all of this as a SECRET, to keep the solemnity of the occasion.

    So with this, I will request that only the people who will be invited by me or by jhaye would be able to attend along with those who will receive the invites. I will say it upfront too, that inasmuch I would like to invite you with a DATE, I would not be able to so if your date is not someone we have met before nor a part of our relationship.

    Another, though we looove kids, we would like to have an ADULT only ceremony for this time, since we would like you to enjoy this day with us without the distraction of your very cute kids. We’ll make it up to you on the 1st birthday of our son/daughter, promise! 😉

    And last, and I wish I didn’t have to do this since I would love everybody to be there, but because of limited budget and accommodation, we will stick to the rule that: friends whom we haven’t seen or have communication in the past year, and relatives who we haven’t seen for the past 2 years, will be..well, i’m so sorry. I know it is inevitable that someone would really feel hurt not to be invited, but please don’t gauge our friendship with it…

    We’ll announce the official date as soon as it’s confirmed, and we’ll see you there, okay?:)

    I posted it in the group page BEFORE I INVITED anyone in the group so that they will understand everything upfront and to have an understanding and to lessen conflict as we near the date!

  54. My fiance and I decided to have a small wedding with imediate family,Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles and CLOSE friends. We both agree that unless someone plays a role in our everyday lives; why would we have them share in our big day? Besides, we’re paying for the wedding and college for both of us on our own we can’t afford to invite all of his Great Aunts like his mother is demanding. I have 24 cousins alone it’s not my fault I come from a large family… as it is I’m only inviting the two cousins that I’m close to.

    We decided to send Save the Dates and Invites to the people we want to attend and on the day of we’re going to mail out annoucements to everyone else we care about… We we told his mother this and she seriously yelled at me saying, “You can’t do that…”

    Needless to say that is EXACTLY what we are going to do and we even told her she has to uninvite the people she invited on her own (especially seeing how she hasn’t even offered to pitch in with the wedding.)

    Sadly, we’re talking about having a guest list and former military family members stand as bouncers and turn away any party crashers! I hope it doesn’t come to that especially with our wedding taking place four hours away.

    I’ve learned the hard way the word “wedding” flips the crazy switch in some people. I have to stand strong with this or little by little she will try to over step her boundaries into our relationship even more than she already has, but that’s another story…

  55. *name adjusted from what it is on Tribe to avoid a chance of in-law drama
    This has happened to us. There has been so much drama and back and forth on our guest list and the size of our wedding. My FH was on the fence about inviting his extended family, and intially his parents said to do whatever we wanted but, combined with him wanting to see his aunts and uncle, and his cousin inviting the extended family to his wedding, we’ve ended up inviting his aunts and uncles. One of his aunts is the wife of his mom’s brother, who passed away. We invited her and as she’s been dragging her feet about RSVPing, my FH’s mom emailed and asked her if she knew her plans yet. She replied, somewhat passive-aggressively,that the RSVP deadline hasn’t been reached yet (although we sent the email months ago, and most guests have made their plans and RSVPd) and that she and her daughter don’t know their plans yet and will respond by the deadline. We never invited her daughter, the cousin, whom my FH has not spoken to in ages and doesn’t like all that much. According to my future mother-in-law, it’s assumed that unmarried children are included in invitations (alas, if we had gone with paper invites we could have been more specific), I don’t see why that should be assumed. His cousin is a grown-ass woman (though apparently doesn’t act like it most of the time) and should not be a package deal with her mother. If we wanted her there, we’d have invited her. I’m deferring to my FH, who doesn’t want to cause drama by saying no, but we’re both hoping they can’t go. We’ve had a few other people play the +1 card, and since we generally have allowed S.O.’s to be included, we feel kind of stuck. Only now my future brother in law asked if he could bring someone, and my FH has not seemed to be able to get a straight answer about whether he was asking about 1 person or more! Aaargh!!

  56. First of all, I totally agree with the author’s statements.
    Second of all, this is my first post to OB in over 4 months of reading. I love the site and gave up theknot and all other bridal sites the moment I started reading it.
    Third, and most importantly, I got only about halfway through the comments. Many were spot on. However, as an orphan, I am really sick of the “my parents want this and I doooooooon’t” mentality. Weddings include your family. Deal with it; decide what is important to you and what is negotiable. I’d love my dad insisting on his aunt being there, no matter the cost, if he was here to do the insisting. I’d love my mom having a melt down about my tattoo showing (which she’d never do! 😉 ) if she was here for the meltdown.
    My fiancee and I haven’t decided how to recognize my parents (who have been gone 14 & 3 years) at the joining of our families- which is what a wedding is. Cherish even the annoying points of family members. That’s what makes who they are and they factored into who you are. You are lucky to have them in your life. I’d deal with seating chart arguments and family meltdowns, in a heartbeat, to have my eccentric, ridiculous, wonderful family at my marriage. I just hoped I might put things into perspective for all of you.

  57. We flat out do not have any more space at our venue. My mother would “never presume” to invite someone without our blessing but instead invited my cousin’s girlfriend to the island but not the wedding. So either we have to include her or she sits by herself through rehearsal dinner and wedding while everyone she knows on the island parties with us. How do we stand our ground on this one?

  58. This is happening to me right now. My wedding is in 15 days and counting. We have a very limited space and tight budget for our wedding. The venue capacity is almost met with our guest list. We are currently getting grief from my Fiance’s family due to a cousin who wasn’t invited. It was an overlook on my Fiance’s part. Plus my fiance has 27 more family members coming to the wedding, than I do and my parent’s are paying for the wedding. His family thinks that his cousin needs to be there even though he wasn’t invited. Excuse me, but I think I have the right over him on inviting someone from my family to the wedding. Plus it’s rude to invite someone to the wedding this late, when they weren’t on the list in the first place. My fiance doesn’t even talk to his cousin and hasn’t seen him in like 2 years. What is disrespectful is that on the invitation to my fiance’s aunt and uncle the invitation was only address to them, but the RSVP card had their names + his cousin name and another person. I have only noticed this from his family, but some of my cousins didn’t get invited to the wedding and they understand why they weren’t invited and I am not getting any grief from them or my aunts and uncles. His aunt puts her son on a pedestal, but she must can’t read either and rude to self invite 2 people to our wedding without asking us if there was a mistake on the invitations. To me it’s a slap in the face. If they can’t respect our wishes then maybe they shouldn’t come. This wedding is about my fiance and I starting a new life, not about her son! This is not a family reunion and its a wedding. My fiance says he will back me on this, but he is now trying to side with his dad on this. Plus at our wedding, we will have a checklist of those attending to be checked off and those not on the list will be asked to leave. We can’t even make room due to the room size and it will take away from the DJ. If people can’t read an invitation on who it is addressed too then maybe they shouldn’t come. It’s completely rude to self invite someone to a wedding when all they need to do is pick up the phone and call and ask if there was a mistake on the invitation, but those who don’t are only looking out for themselves and being disrespectful to the bride and groom.

  59. I can’t comment any more on the Offbeat Bride page, only share! I haven’t written anything bad, but if someone could let me know why this happened that would be so nice… I can’t ‘like’ anything!

  60. I actually had the opposite problem.. I had a big family that I sent a ton of invitations out for a relatively close destination wedding in a bordering state and had a lot of rsvps of yes and (maybe? Not even an option listed!) so I had no idea who really was coming or not, blew our buffet food budget out of proportion because I was worried a ton of people would show up. And out of the 150 I was expecting? Well that magically turned into maybe 40 people in all. Yeah, I was a little sad but it was overshadowed by an awesome day of sunshine for a cool reception lunch.

    Oh and as for people who wanted to come but couldn’t make it? Second reception all up to whatever the family wanted to do. We had over 100 people show up for a bbq/pool party/game time awesome. Irony? We DID run out of food. I just chalk it up to eh, thats life!

    And to never over-estimate food again. I’m feeding a party…not a country.

  61. One of the ways to avoid this is for couple to be very deliberate and purposeful when making their lists. It is always going to be strange for instance, if a tight circle of friends or family has one or two glaring omissions. People will notice, people will talk and you have to be prepared for some hurt feelings. Is it avoidable and should you have to invite ‘borderline’ folks? Maybe not, but you do have to take ownership and be prepared for the reactions, and assess beforehand if it is worth it.

  62. My mom asked me to invite her elderly widowed aunt to the wedding, so I said sure no problem. This morning I get an RSVP back for 7 people. This aunt took it on herself to invite her adult son and his two kids, plus her grandson and his wife and kid; I’ve never met them. I had to call her up and tell her the invite was addressed to her not the additional 6 people. Well, now she isn’t coming.

  63. So, what do you do when you’ve addressed an invite to a single person (rather than a Mr. and Mrs. and family) and when they fill out the RSVP, where it says ‘Name(s) of Those Attending’ they add their name and a date’s name? There was no mention on the invite that they could bring a date. The fill-in was for the addressee(s). How does one handle such an awkward situation? My daughter has received two RSVP’s for her wedding where the invitees took the liberty of including a date.

  64. This situation is stressful, we recently had a friend add a plus one (his new girlfriend) one month before our wedding without asking us. At this point we’ve already made all the arrangements with the vendors for the amount of confirmed guests we have and are keeping our ceremony intimate. I let him know that we couldn’t accommodate plus 1’s because of these reasons. He responded letting me know that he had already booked their flights and that they had planned a whole trip around our wedding location. This put in a bit of a spot, I obviously felt frustrated that he didn’t ask me first but sympathetic to their situation. So I compromised letting him know that she can come but we cannot guarantee dinner for her since the food has been plated per guest and that would mean us shelling out extra $. He understood and was very apologetic for not noticing the numerous reminders I had sent about us not being able to accommodate plus ones. We were lucky that our venue had the extra space for her but I know this is not always the case. Ask before you invite people!

  65. I had this happen less than a month after I was engaged. A friend if a friend heard our mutual friend (one if my bridesmaids) ask about the wedding and just inserted herself into the bridal party then Into the grooms party. I politely told her that we already picked out who we wanted and it’s final. I’ve had several people do this. I have yet to have anyone just invite themselves as a normal guest, though.

  66. I had 2 people crash my wedding. My husband is 9th of 10 siblings and has over 70 nieces, nephews, and greats. Plus he is in tue AF and is a firefighter. His family members were all in town for a reuinion that week. We invited 400 knowing we could only fit 275 if we wanted to keep a dance floor (it was a swing dance/1940s themed wedding so that was a must). That was after cutting 200 from the list. The crashers weren’t invited because they were cousins and we had to cut out most cousons. They showed up in shorts and made a big scene. What was I supposed to do? At least they were fun guys. And they just ate everybody’s leftovers. So I just danced and laughed with them. Oh well…

  67. I was definitely surprised how many people attempted to add guests to our wedding. Nobody who completely didn’t receive an invitation, but some attempts to add uninvited plus ones and children. We handled them differently depending on who they were. My family is large so on my dad’s side of the family, we invited only aunts and uncles, no cousins. My clueless aunt (whose invitation was clearly addressed only to her and her husband) added her adult daughter, my cousin, when she RSVP-ed. In that case, I just bit my tongue and didn’t say anything and we made room for her. Doing otherwise would have upset my dad and probably the whole clan and it wasn’t worth it.

    My husband’s boss clearly realized he and his wife were invited without their teenage son (who we don’t know and who would have had a terrible time at a wedding with no other teenagers) but asked if he could bring him. My husband was able to put him off with a “I’ll have to check with my fiancee” response, and then we just never got back to him. He got the message and didn’t bring the kid.

    One of my husband’s coworkers suddenly acquired a 2 year old child (her boyfriend’s ex showed up and said surprise, you have a kid, and I’m leaving her with you) between the time they RSVP-ed and the wedding. She texted my husband and just said “put us down for three” without even asking permission. I wanted to be sensitive to the fact that they were adjusting to a huge change in their lives and hadn’t figured out the whole babysitter thing yet, but also wanted to stand my ground since none of his work friends’ kids were invited, so we offered to have the kiddo stay (at our expense) with our good friends’ kids and their sitter (who we know) in their very nice, kid-proofed house. She remained non-committal, and then just didn’t show up at the wedding, which was perhaps her passive-aggressive “screw you” for us saying no to the addition to their RSVP, or maybe just flakiness–I don’t know her well enough to know. But I nevertheless feel good about how we handled it–sensitive to their situation but also fair to us.

    Another of husband’s co-workers, a nice guy but completely hapless and socially awkward, said to us at a party right before our RSVP deadline “Sorry I haven’t RSVP-ed yet, I’m just waiting to see if I want to bring a plus one or two.” I did not feel bad at all about coaching husband to take him aside and explain he didn’t get a plus one (and certainly not two!). I get the sense he’s used to having everything spelled out for him, and as far as I know he didn’t take offense when my husband informed him that it was going to be just him (and a table full of people he knows from work, some of whom were coming w/o significant others, so it wouldn’t be an uncomfortable place to be date-less).

    My husband’s very close family friends (the wife was his “first girlfriend” and he calls them “aunt and uncle”) were by far our worst RSVP-ers. We invited the couple and their two adult children who don’t live w/them on the same invite because that’s how my husband wanted to do it (I now wish I’d sent separate invites to the adult kids). First, she said the kids wouldn’t be coming, so could she use “her” “extra” two seats to bring their friends from church, another couple, who husband and I kinda know, but not well enough that we’d invite them to our wedding. We ignored that request because it was so ridiculous, and she eventually got the message and RSVP-ed late just for herself (her husband was out of the country on business). Then a few days before the wedding she emailed me to say her daughter would be coming and instructing me not to tell daughter that her mother had failed to include her in the RSVP. After having a private temper tantrum, I squeezed daughter in at a different table than her mom because it was the best I could do at that point. I really wanted to tell her to go to hell because I was in full-on stressed out bride mode by that time, but it wasn’t worth the tension it would have created with my new in-laws.

    I think of this issue, like all others in wedding planning, as one where you have to pick your battles. “Don’t dodge” and “stand your ground” are good advice as far as they go, but I think “ask yourself whether it’s worth it” has to be step one in each case. Even if your answer every time is “yes” because you feel very strongly about limiting your guest list, it’s worth asking yourself the question.

  68. I have to no idea of what to do. I have an old friend who was rather parasitic to me growing up. Much of my attachment to her was based on guilt as she was also generous. We drifted apart years ago, and barely talk now. Seeing me in a public place a few days ago, she invited herself to my wedding in a way that felt like a mild threat. Astounded and unsure if I wanted to let her make a fuss in a public place, I weakly nodded as she rattled on about where she is living now. It’s a place I used to know, so I didn’t have to write it down and make a show of my commitment. I found out later that day that thanks to family inviting people, we’re now over our agreed to limit at our venue. I’ve been so down, thinking about this problematic person coming to my wedding. My partner, and even my mom likes her as much as I do. I was such a coward to let this girl do this to me. I have no idea of what I should do. I can conveniently forget to add her to my guest list and let her fuss later. Or, I can tell her sorry, but I have to uninvite her. It would be terribly rude, but she was very rude, too. Or, I can deal with the consequences of being a fool. I would greatly appreciate input.

  69. I need some serious advice. Numerous people on my guest list have RSVP with a +1 even though their invitation was addressed to them only. I’m not quite sure how to handle it. I have enough room for more people but budget will not allow me to feed all these people. How do I go back to them and tell them they cant bring a guest??

  70. I have a weird problem: instead of sending save the dates, we made a Facebook event. As I’m getting notifications of people replying, I see that one of my friends, who I did NOT invite, said she would go! Facebook added extra people to our guest list! The event is invite only by either me or my fiance. We made sure that it is private and that nobody can invite themselves or other people. Besides, these extra invites were random friends of mine who nobody on my guest list knows anyway. The next day Facebook added ANOTHER friend to my guest list. I have since gotten this under control, and luckily there was only one Facebook addition who said she would go. Do I let this slide? We were friendly in high school, but haven’t really kept in touch since, with the exception of simply being Facebook friends. She did actually get an invitation, but she shouldn’t have. It was a technical error and I don’t know what to do.

  71. Yeah… This happened to me. My husband’s parents have big families but they appear to have fallen out with almost all of them, so the guests on my husband’s side were mostly friends. However there was this one cousin in a second degree who my husband and I had socialised with a few times over vacations on his parents’ hometown, so I even insisted with him that she come. She’s widowed, so it would be only her. Right?
    Wrong. My mother-in-law took it upon herself to invite her daughter, her son, his wife and their daughter. Of these, he’d only met the cousin’s children when they were… well, children. We didn’t even know their names. We had cut off a number of people we would love to have at our wedding and there it was, a family of 5 we had no interest in having. You’d think my mother-in-law would have payed for the reception costs, since we had clearly told her the invitation was for the cousin only. Wrong again!
    My husband was furious but being a non confrontational type he didn’t say anything to his family. I didn’t want to butt in because I already had those types of issues from my side to resolve.
    The result was that we had them come to the wedding, which they couldn’t appreciate because they didn’t know us, so I have a multitude of photos of smiling happy people and then a few of 5 long faces… Argh

  72. I’m currently trying to cut down our guest list a bit right now. A few friends from college whom we haven’t seen for a few years, or who caused major drama, or who we really weren’t that close to but who were mutual acquaintances through other friends (or ex-flatmates who I didn’t exactly part with on the best terms…). There are a few family members who are not on the list – an aunt and her family because we can’t stand her husband and her grown-up kids are a bit stuck-up/annoying, and an uncle who my dad hasn’t spoken to in 30 years — his son is a grey area because while we get on really well, we haven’t been in touch too much lately.

    I posted the following on Facebook a month or two ago, in a fit of the Grumps before weekly archery practice:

    “People keep asking stuff about the wedding and crap. Right now I’m a bit mentally bogged-down with other stuff (like work), but here’s the most recurring FAQ answers.

    8th of [date], pending venue approval.
    [Venue] Hotel, [town].
    Yes it will be a civil ceremony.
    No there will not be flowers.
    It will NOT be “Mediaeval”.
    The dress is red. And I bought it.
    We’re trying to keep numbers down so don’t throw a fit if you’re not invited.

    Now if you don’t mind, I gotta go for my bow-therapy appointment.”

    May come across as harsh when it comes to the numbers part, but the comments were appreciative and humorous – and mostly from people who won’t be invited.

  73. I actually just dealt with a situation like this! My Dad’s friend was angling for a plus 5 at my 75-person destination wedding. He would be the only guest bringing a date, his two kids, and both of their spouses. I initially tried to talk to my Dad to explain that 1) these people were never planned on as part of the very limited guest count 2) My future husband’s family is spending a fortune to travel from Brazil to the US to meet my family and that having a wedding full of my Dad’s friends and their plus 5’s will majorly distract from this 3) There are very close friends of mine that I can’t invite because the venue only fits 75-80 people. 4) **Most importantly** I’ve never met this guys kids!!!!!

    My Dad’s response was that he gave his word and that these people have to be invited at whatever cost, he also offered to call some of his close friends who have invites already in the mail and “talk them out of coming.” So after a lot of pondering I figured I would just reach out to my Dad’s friend and explain in the most courteous way possible that I would ask if he only brings a plus 1.

    Hi (Dad’s friend),

    (My Dad) let us know that you’re planning on coming to the wedding in April! That is great news. Regretfully, we must inform you that we are currently way over the maximum number of guests that can be allowed a seat at the reception, due to the limited size of the venue. The reception that we booked was intended to be a small intimate group of about 75 to keep costs affordable. If possible we would ask that you limit your additional guests to just one person at this time.
    As we get closer to April, I would happily accommodate the rest of your family if we can get some other guests that are traveling internationally or cross-country to cancel. We will keep you updated and we are very sorry about any inconvenience.


    He actually responded very quickly and reasonably! The only problem now is that this guy always travels stand-by and in his response he mentioned that he won’t know if he can come until 1-2 days before!!!! Makes it tough to give the final guest count guarantee to the caterer five days before the wedding, but at least no “Dad’s friend party of six.” This guest is already a huge thorn in my side!! haha

  74. We’ve had the awkward convo of uninvited guests also. Our ruling is that if you are a long term couple (married, dated for quite some time ie. we’ve met the SO) then you get a plus one. Otherwise, no plus ones. We physically cannot fit more people on a boat, and we’d have to spend an extra 5-6 thousand dollars to add even 1 more person. My MOH, who is normally a very logical person, was super upset about this. Why? She’s not dating anyone, has said she’s not interested in dating right now….she was upset because she wanted a mutual friend to be her plus one. This friend has her own invite to our wedding. *facepalm*

    My mother has also finally got the point that this is not her wedding, it’s N and mine. Therefore, in our 100 person max limit she cannot have 75 guests, including ones I’ve never damn well met and ones she knows I do not like (very, very matriarchical and rude and demanding – this woman tells me I am a horrible human being every time I see her). But apparently now she doesn’t want to invite anyone. Alriiiiighhhtttyyyy. I foresee this being a huge pain in the ass, but whatever.

    Definitely waiting on the RSVP add-ons. Thank goodness our wedding website only allows you to RSVP by database name – if I haven’t entered in your name, you can’t RSVP! But we’re doing paper RSVPs too, so that’ll be funsies.

  75. When we first got engaged and started to tell everyone, my FI’s ex-wife not only immediately invited herself to the wedding, but also came right out and asked me what kind of Bridesmaid Dress she should buy!! I was as polite as possible since his kids were right there too. But I couldn’t believe it. I just told her we aren’t in a hurry so I had no idea about dresses yet. You could of pushed me over with a feather lol!

  76. Honestly, I was looking for a way to say “Fuck off, You’re not invited. You’re a cunt, and your kids are abhorrable and there is no way in hell that You are coming.” In a less direct but still just as spicy way.
    This did not deliver

    • Jade, it sounds like you already know exactly what to say! 😀

  77. All of this advice is better than what I *actually* did, which was call my husband-to-be and start screaming “fix it, FIX IT, FIX IT” (in my defense… it was one of 2 meltdowns, and the other was when my fiance missed his plane home for the wedding… but I digress) It was his family: people I could not have picked out of a crowd, and people we were specifically told would be out of town, so they would be “natural” people to not invite. Apparently they assumed, and RSVP’s anyway. To a wedding with 60 people, total.

    Because there were limits as to what others were “comfortable” with telling them, my MIL ended up disinviting another people to avoid a confrontation. The whole thing was ridiculous, and it still embarasses and enrages me that people who actually got invitations were asked not to come.

    But: the benefit of small venues is this: they have a fire code, usually, that they HAVE TO ADHERE TO. And they’re probably going to look at the list you give them, and act accordingly, because the last thing they want is a fine from the FD. This works as another scapegoat that isn’t you (eg, “this was our dream venue, but the dang FD says we cannot have a soul over 60…”) or as a last minute enforcement if you legit have someone try to crash. I’d also suggest assigning someone assertive, but kind, in the bridal party to act as a temporary bouncer if the venue won’t help.

  78. Hoo boy. My fiance and I have had this discussion. There’s ONE person that we know of that dislikes us, but I have a (hopefully irrational and fruitless) fear that she would try to invite herself and show up just to cause problems. Hey, it’s happened before at other gatherings! This is why we’re going to have a trustworthy person to be our bouncer and toss her to the curb if she tries! Luckily, the other people that I’m not inviting don’t care about us either way!

  79. How would you guys handle this? Mother-in-law invited their family neighbor (they don’t hang out with this family at all, they don’t talk often, they’re just neighbors). She ran into the mother who said she and her husband couldn’t make it but they were sending their son and his girlfriend who my fiancé and I barely know besides for him growing up next to the kid. When my MIL commented they weren’t invited, the woman responded by saying that he and his gf will represent them since she and her husband couldn’t go. The balls on this woman! (Unless she’s super spaced out and doesn’t know any better) but how would you handle this?!

  80. Hello:

    I have a question that I cannot find an answer to. A friend of mine for over a decade is getting married. I used to work with him but no longer. We stay in contact mostly by texts but it is infrequent. Still, I really like my friend and I feel he likes me as well.

    I received today an invite to his wedding. I’ve met his intended and we got along fabulously. The invite has only my name on it. It is quite a distance from me and I would have to pay for transportation and accommodations at a hotel for 2 nights to partake in the festivities.

    I just don’t want to go that distance by myself and sit with strangers and party with mostly strangers. The wedding couple will be way too busy, as should be expected, to really talk with me. Would it be acceptable if I wrote and asked for an invite fo my best friend and told them that I would pay for that friend?

  81. I sent invitations out to all of my guests, clearly stating how many seats we had available for each person’s party. I sent one to an older distant aunt and gave her three spots: one for her, one for her husband and one for one of her children who would be driving them (they’re elderly). She never rsvp’d so my sister volunteered to call her and find out if they were coming or not. When she called, my aunt told her that she would be there but her husband could not attend. So she asked if she could bring 9 of her children and grandchildren instead. I said no, our venue was too small and we couldn’t fit that many additional guests (especially since I don’t know her children and grandchildren that well at all) but that I could compromise and she could bring just her children (3 total) if she wanted since her husband couldn’t attend (no grandchildren invited though). She then told my sister she would be bringing all 9 anyway to the wedding and the brunch we’re having the next morning, despite my having told her no. My aunt then immediately told my grandmother that she couldn’t come to the reception dinner because I told her she wasn’t invited. So now my grandmother thinks I excluded her her from the events. :/

    So my question is, how do you handle +9’s?? Especially since it’s very important to my grandmother that she attends.

    • Speak to your grandmother directly and explain the situation. She’ll probably be mortified by her daughter’s behaviour. It’s important that she hears about the situation from you, as well as from your aunt, or she’s going to get a skewed impression of what’s going on.

      In terms of the plus nine, I do wonder how old the grandkids are. If they’re not old enough to be left alone, I can understand why inviting all of the adults without them would be an issue (since they may well be each other’s babysitters). If they can’t leave the kids, then they may not be able to be their monther’s chauffeur, which could be the crux of the problem. If you aunt assumes you know this (you know, with your psychic powers every bride to be gets with her engagement power ring), then she may think excluding the grandkids is your passive aggressive way of uninviting her.

      Are you able to accommodate them at the brunch, but not the ceremony? Or at a separate ‘plus nines’ party that evening or the next day? If they all want to travel together, if you can make time for them they may appreciate that though only aunt is invited to the wedding, it’s not because you don’t want to spend time with the rest of them as well. Play up the fact you wouldn’t have a chance to spend any time with them at the wedding and they’d only know each other, and wouldn’t they rather have a special private party with yourselves.

      • Thanks for the advise! The grandchildren are all in high school or college. When she mentioned to my sister she was bringing them all, she said it was because “none of them wanted to miss out on the party” or something like that. :/ I tried to make it clear to her I would love to have them all there but the reception venue was just not big enough (the space fits 70 and with them we would have 75) but she is bringing them anyway.

        I spoke with my grandmother and she understands (and was shocked) when I told her the story. But I hate for her to be disappointed if my aunt is unable to be there, whatever the reason (even if it’s justified). It’s a tough situation.

  82. I’m having a somewhat similar situation occur…. I’m from a small town- but I have a huge family. The majority of people invited are family and “close” friends. Still, with that we are at 250 invites. Our venue capacity is 250. We are doing a destination wedding to limit the amount of people who will make the trip from home….but nonetheless, I’m catching a lot of crap from people about their +1’s. I had someone (who I don’t consider a friend or even someone I particularly like) ask me point blank if she was invited to my wedding….I said No, sorry- I have certain family members not invited because it’s gotten too large and we are having a hometown celebration for everyone we can’t accommodate. That should have nipped it in the butt…right? But now, she’s latched on to a very close friend and said she will be his +1…. I haven’t even given anyone a +1….my invitations haven’t been sent out yet even.. Basically, because this is a “big deal” in a small town where it’s sort of a competition of who is/isn’t invited…it’s become a little crazy with having people walk up to me and tell me they are coming when I haven’t even invited ANYONE yet, officially. Ultimately, I’ve been very blunt about it… The guest list is too large and I’m not allowing +1’s unless they are in a very serious relationship with my guest. I’m not sure how else to handle it- but nonetheless, I am very irritated that people who I’m not even friends with are going out of their way to be invited to a party that they CLEARLY are not supposed to be at and they know it. I’d love some feedback if anyone has any.

    • I got no advise for this. I just wanted to say O-M-F-G. That blows. I am so sorry. Good luck!

      • “Advise” = Doing something. i.e. you advise someone.
        “Advice” = The thing you give. i.e. gave them advice.

        I advise you to not give out random advice.


  83. So here is a challenge for you… My fiance and I have had to narrow down our wedding list due to budget mostly. My mother is paying for most of the wedding and the venue we have chosen seats 90 TOPS. We have about 115 invites going out but because most of my fiances family is from far away and we have a Sunday evening wedding we are assured that we will make the cutoff.
    The issue is I was speaking with my soon to be Mother-In-Law the other day and she told be how she had rented a home near the venue and that she was staying there with (she gave names) 8 guest 2 whom we are not inviting. I asked my fiance if he told his mom about the guest list and who we were inviting to which he responded “No, why? It isn’t like she is paying or planning the wedding” To which I had to inform him that she has invited at least 2 people without asking us that were not on our list. Neither of us knows what to say or how to go about asking her who else she has invited without our say so. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • It is your fiancées responsibility to get the message to your MIL… if you are cutting it close on numbers she needs to be aware it isn’t a free for all… there were some people who came to the town we had ours but weren’t invited… they just hung out and partied with everyone.. surprisingly- you may find you have extra space in the end and the random extras she’s invited might be able to join after all… but she needs to know it’s not her place to invite. It will all become more clear once invitations are sent out and certain people don’t receive them. I specified on my invites how many seats were reserved on that invite. Good luck!

  84. We’re having a very small(50ish) backyard wedding at our house. I put on the invitation to please refrain from bringing uninvited guest as space is limited and we both could only invite 5 or so of our own close friend so we had to leave alot of people we know out of thye wedding. I made it very clear in the invitation. Well FH”s aunt let me know through facebook who all in their family is coming and included her sons new GF of less than a year who we have never met. My friends and family know that I will be super pissed and to not bring a guest but Ive only met his aunt once and hes not even that close to her she was basically only invited out of formality as being family. I am not sure how to deal with this

    • Ultimately, I came to realize….there will be people you didn’t want there (or care to have there either way) who will end up coming. At least a handful will rsvp and not show up, and at the end of the day…it all works out. I had family invited who rsvp‘d and didn’t show up (and didn’t tell anyone they weren’t coming). I had a friend invite a girlfriend who I hated… (they broke up and she ended up in my photo album)… life goes on, good memories are had and we all “Monday morning quarterback” the entire thing for a few weeks… but honestly, the numbers end up not mattering as much as you think they do, and the people who are there were meant to be there and everyone will remember the good parts and not the annoying or stressful parts.
      The only thing I wish was different about my wedding day is that I wish I had “been there.” I wish I hadn’t stressed as much about the numbers, the uninvited guests or the no-shows….
      If 15 more rsvp that you have room for, don’t worry… the venues are used to it and they will accommodate at the end of the day. Breathe easy and enjoy the ride! Marriage is beautiful!


    • I think it depends how much this is really going to impact the day. If you feel realistically, 1-2 extras won’t harm, its worth remembering that it might not be worth commenting on.
      If its going to cause an issue, or you feel will still bother you 2 years after the wedding, a version of the above could help:
      Oh, no! I’m so sorry: there’s clearly been a miscommunication. Due to budget, time and venue limitations, we’re keeping the guestlist quite small and have therefore only invited those we can actually accommodate. This means we just can’t invite everyone we’d like, as much as we’d love to — we do not have room for any extras on the guestlist. I’m so terribly sorry that we can’t extend an invitation to son/gf/ the rest of your family at this time, and even more sorry about this miscommunication. I hope you can understand and do let me know if this impacts your original RSVP for yourself.”

  85. I’m so grateful to this site for wonderful articles (and comments) like the ones found here. My invitations just went out, and already I’m having issues. I actually had a coworker (and employee, actually) tell me that she was bringing some of her friends whom I don’t even know because they have another wedding earlier in the day. I was so WTAF that I didn’t say anything… and still haven’t.

    My other issues is that I don’t speak to my mother. She’s very bad news and would make me so unhappy if she were a part of my life. She is so into drama that I can totally see her just showing up. I’m already on edge about it. My brother and his family know she’s not invited, but with wedding websites and such I’m sure she can discover the details. Luckily, if she does pull a stunt (and the wedding is a plane ride away from her, so it would mean some serious planning on her part) I will have the people I love most around me to help me through it

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