Wedding etiquette: If you're having a small wedding, how do you tell some friends/family they're not invited?
by Stephanie


Tec Petaja

QUESTION: I'm having a small wedding, and unfortunately cannot invite all the family and friends that know about my wedding. However, some family and friends have been approaching me and asking about the wedding details. How do I delicately communicate that they actually are not on the guest list?

GINA'S ANSWER: I don’t really think you owe anyone an explanation. Send your invites and address any questions as they arise. If the uninvited person actually brings the topic up to you directly, simply say that you are having an intimate wedding and weren’t able to invite everyone you wanted to invite.

If that’s too direct for you, there’s always the, “my fiance’ has a huge family” or “the venue only fits ___ people” and unfortunately you couldn’t invite everyone you wanted.

JESS' ANSWER: Mention that unfortunately your budget is limited and as a result, you aren’t able to invite everyone. If there are quite a few people you aren’t able to invite, it might be a good idea to have a larger celebration after you get back from your honeymoon, to allow those unable to attend the big day to still celebrate with you!

ASHLEY'S ANSWER: This is never a pleasant subject. Sadly, many people are not straightforward in their approach to communication either. Being upfront and clear about your guest list can be a hard thing to discuss with your partner, firstly, when creating it. Once you have a solid idea of your guest list it is best to make a “no exceptions” policy with your partner, if this is something you are comfortable with.

In the event that someone hears the news of your wedding and asks for the details, and they are not on the guest list, you may be tempted to make an exception for them. Next thing you know, you are doing this for a few more people and your guest list is growing.

There are sizable factors to consider. Usually it is a budget factor, sometimes a venue factor. This is just one scenario, there are many other situations that arise surrounding this topic. To delicately address this, I would again explain to the non guest that the venue can only accommodate a certain amount of people, or that it is not within your budget.

Another route is to apologetically explain to them that you have chosen to have your wedding in a certain manner and that everything is in motion and at this point you can not make any revisions. This approach is often very effecting in easing some upset feelings. At least, if they are an understandable person. Hopefully they are!

Need more wedding etiquette, advice and tips? See previous etiquette posts here.

Gina and Matt_web_175
Gina and Matt_web_175

Gina Heideman is a bride-in-training from Boise, Idaho. When she's not planning her navy/preppy/downtown wedding, she spends her time perfecting her crab cake recipe, drinking wine and playing cribbage with her fiance, and playing outside. She's an avid swimmer, runner, gardener and reality TV junkie. By day she works as Executive Director of a statewide nonprofit organization that focuses on meth use prevention. By night she's a freelance graphic designer (

Jess Keys is a Journalism graduate of Indiana University, a Chicago transplant and Founder of The Golden Girl Blog. She was first bitten by the wedding bug at age 11, when she purchased her first Brides magazine in the Lexington, KY airport. She's partial to red lipstick, French Bulldogs, and a lover of the written word. When she's not writing for Wedding Party, you can often find her at the closest Dim Sum establishment, or exploring the Windy City with her camera in tow.

Ashley Smith is the wedding planner for Buzzworthy SF. She believes that purpose, craft, design, and strategy are all cohesive elements to produce a successful event. Ashley is available for weddings in California and worldwide. Her expertise is in the Bay Area, but her heart is in Mexico, where she is certified by the board of tourism to plan and work. If she is not in San Francisco planning weddings and being social, you’ll find her on the beach at Playa Azul, Papaya Playa, or exploring the coast lines in Central America via bicycle.