For most brides, weddings come with certain limitations set forth by a budget.
This bridal budget dictates everything from the dress to the venue and back. The one thing about all wedding planning that can either make or break that budget in the end, however, is the guest count. Some costs surrounding your wedding may be set in stone, like attire, hair and makeup, the venue rental fee, and services like entertainment, photography and videography. Virtually all other costs, however, are affected by your guest count.
With that in mind, who could blame a couple for wanting to limit their wedding guest list to only their closest family and friends? No one. That is, no one, rationally speaking. But that’s just the thing about weddings. Weddings often cause people to hit emotional high notes that leave those of us who repel drama entirely perplexed.
While weddings are amazing events mostly filled with love, laughter, and unforgettable moments, they often are bordered by certain touchy wedding situations – like when the mother of the groom wants to wear white, and when friends or acquaintances assume they’re invited to your wedding, when they’re not! I’m addressing the latter today in this post, so make sure you keep reading to learn how to handle this situation before it becomes a problem!
Chances are, if you’re limiting your guest count, you’ll run into this situation once or twice (or twenty or more times). Whether the person (or group!) mentions involvement in passing or straight-out asks for an invitation, this situation is not only touchy – it’s downright awkward.
First of all, identify the transgression. Do they actually assume they’re invited? Keep in mind that someone congratulating you on your engagement or giving you a small best-wishes gift doesn’t necessarily mean that the person assumes he or she is invited to your festivities. Congrats are a natural (if not socially required) response, and a small gift is an indication that you’re well-liked by the person. Don’t ruin the moment each time this comes up by going into a spill about how you can’t invite him or her. Now, if the person gives you a large gift (I’m talking about a car, an all-expenses-paid honeymoon, etc.), that could mean something else altogether, and you should use your better judgment to gauge the situation. If he or she does this, and you think it’s overly generous given your relationship, you may say that the gift is simply too extravagant to accept, but that you can’t thank him or her enough for thinking so highly of you. If, however, a group goes together to purchase something nice for you, like your coworkers, that’s more acceptable. Simply play this scenario by ear, always going for politeness above all.
For the record: Gifts should never be used as payment for an invitation to your wedding, nor should you let receiving one pressure you into inviting someone you hadn’t planned to. Also, while we’re on the subject, receiving an invitation to someone else’s wedding doesn’t obligate you to invite them to yours.
How to handle it: As with all potentially touchy situations regarding your wedding, it’s best to handle immediately to avoid seriously hurt feelings or an even more awkward situation later.
(“Remember how you mentioned you’re invited to my wedding? Uhm, well, I meant to tell you last week, but…” or “You bought me a gift and couldn’t wait to give it to me on wedding day?! But I actually wasn’t planning to invite you…”)
The thing to remember is to think your response through thoroughly before actually addressing these situations. I suggest memorizing a line that you plan to tell everyone who does this. When you hear a direct indication that people can’t wait to attend your wedding, or they can’t wait to see your dress on wedding day, or anything that truly indicates they’re waiting for a formal invitation, address it politely yet bluntly in a way that settles the matter for good, in as privately a way as possible.
I suggest saying something quite frank, possibly blaming intimacy.
“I so appreciate you wanting to celebrate with us, but we’ve decided to limit our guest list to just a few close family and friends. Thanks so much for your well wishes, though!”
Alternatively, you could blame your venue or budget, rather than highlighting the fact that you don’t feel that close to the person.
“I would have loved to invite you to our wedding, but our venue choice (or our budget) has us limiting the number of guests we can invite. Thank you so much for thinking of us, though!”
It’s true that you could just tell the person he or she is not invited, point blank, but that wouldn’t be very gracious or tactful, and it’ll likely cause a lot more drama than you need around an already stressful time in your life.
If you’re not sure someone assumes he or she is invited, say nothing. Only very bold people will actually come up to you and ask outright, and chances are, that won’t happen. If it does, recite your line to them – then change the subject.
Are you actually the problem? Some situations and assumptions may actually be caused by something you’re doing, whether intentionally or not. Read below to nip certain behaviors in the bud before they stir up any hurt feelings down the road.
Talking about the wedding: Understand that if you’re not planning to invite someone, you should not talk about the wedding to them or with them at length, nor should you talk about the wedding in a group where one or two people are not invited. In fact, you should change the subject from your wedding as soon as possible if it comes up. Don’t do so in a way that makes the wedding seem like a sooper-seekret topic, though (which really only serves to highlight the fact that you-know-who isn’t on your A-list of buds).
General church invitations: Please heed this advice: do not do them. Not only are they bad for your budget (Why spend that much money on people you barely talk to?), but they’re bad from a planning sense, too. How will your caterer know how many he or she will serve when you’ve put a general church invitation in the foyer of a congregation with 200+ members? How will you know how many seats to secure at the reception venue? Save yourself the angst of not knowing. Skip this step, and only send invitations to those you want there.
Coworkers: Do you hang out outside of work? If not, then your relationship is strictly work-based, and you likely shouldn’t worry about inviting him or her. If you do hang out, but you hang out in groups, and you think you’re a little closer to some than others, tread lightly. Will it cause too much work drama if you invite one or two, yet leave the others out?
Save the Dates: These come with either a written or implied, “Invitation to follow.” Keep that in mind before addressing everyone on your contacts list.
Finally, if you want people to know you’re married, but you don’t want to invite them to your wedding, consider sending an announcement after the big day. Such an announcement should generally not be mailed until the day after the wedding, and it does not obligate the recipient to send a gift. It’s more of an FYI than anything and can be quite tastefully done.
Images courtesy of Chattanooga and Knoxville wedding photography and videography company Be Still My Heart Films.
For the record, all guests depicted in the photos above were most definitely included on the brides’ guest lists!