COVID-19 DIARIES: How to un-invite someone to your wedding


The reality you maybe be facing? You absolutely want to keep your wedding date, so you're suddenly forced to cut anywhere from 10-150 people off your guest list to comply with gathering capacities.

And you have no idea how.

So many couples are about to face this reality when it comes to event guest capacity limitations. While it can be tricky water to wade, it's important to start by taking a deep breath, and remember that your situation is likely outside of your control (I'm looking at you COVID). Your friends and family will still love you no matter what - they are likely going to be hurt for a while, but there are steps you can take to mend the relationship during the entire process (and yes, even while on the phone telling them to stay home!).

How to un-invite a guest due to COVID wedding restrictions:

Start by checking in with out-of-town guests to see who still intended to make the date.

This simple start might be the saving grace behind this action. If you start by reaching out to those who they themselves may cancel, it immediately begins to reduce the number of people you have to choose to ask to stay home. A lot of out-of-town wedding guests have been making their own decisions regarding whether or not to travel for nuptials, and it can help lessen the burden on you. So many people have been financially strained, they've had to cancel travel that's been planned for weeks or months - so it's quite possibly some of your out-of-town guests will fall in that category as well.

It's important not to make assumptions, however. You never know who may have already made reservations or paid for flights that aren't refundable anymore.

Once you've determined the exact number of people you have to reduce, start CALLING those who made the cut list to inform them.

It's incredibly important to preserve your relationship by being open and honest with them - and this includes not hiding behind an email or social media message. A phone call, better yet a FaceTime or Zoom call, goes a long way in being able to share your compassion, and regret, in having to make this decision. It'll say leaps and bounds about what their relationship means to you, and how you wish this wasn't the reality. It also gives you the ability to lovingly check in on them and the family, see how they're doing, and if there's anything you can help them with during the crisis. Though they'll likely be bummed they can't make your wedding, they're likely also facing their own hardships too.

Be polite - but be clear.

Make sure there aren't any vague sentences or workarounds that you're using to break the news. If you casually mention having to reduce your guest list but don't make it clear they aren't invited anymore, you could be dealing with an awkward situation: not only regarding having enough food or chairs, but breaking state/venue laws regarding capacity.

Be polite, but firm. Make it clear that you wish this wasn't the case, but in order to do XYZ, a number of people are being told to no longer attend - and that includes them. Explain your regrets, but be clear in your decision.

Include the reasons you have to make the decision, even if they seem obvious.

While the conversation will likely end up about COVID at some point, make sure to reiterate this point to the guest. Explain thoroughly what the pandemic has caused you to change in order to move forward with your date (likely guest count) and why changing that matters to you (i.e., keeping the initial date). Your guests are so much more likely to understand if you're completely honest and up front with them about how the changes have affected your wedding, and why they didn't make the keep list (i.e., we reduced to immediate family, we're avoiding travelers, etc).

Guests are also more receptive to reasons that are outside of your control. For any standard given wedding, un-inviting somebody who already received a save-the-date or invitation is considered rude or impolite - so being absolutely honest about this being a decision outside of your control will help alleviate the pain or hurt they feel.

In the end, ask them if they have questions or need clarity on anything.

While this may seem like a strange thing to do, it's best to clear the air as much as possible to avoid potential confusion (such as them thinking you're moving the date and sending new invites). This also gives them the opportunity to ask questions of you - how you're doing, if there's anything they can help with, or even an address for where to send an already purchased gift. If they haven't purchased a gift yet, this may be a time when they ask if there's something you'd like instead of something on the registry - a monetary gift towards wedding expenses for example.

Grab everybody's addresses - and send them thank you cards anyway.

This may be up for debate, but I truly believe that sending happy mail will never, ever go out of style. After your wedding, consider sending those that were asked to not attend a thank you card. It doesn't have to be the same, "Thank you for the gift, we love it!" type of thing - sending a thank you card for their support of you as a couple has so much meaning. Consider mentioning something you admire about the guest and/or their relationship (if married) and tell them how you'll as a couple use that inspiration moving forward in your own lives. And of course, if they did send you a gift, thank them for that too. Kind words heal wounds.

Where to next?

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