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. Suddenly you need to uninvite someone from your wedding 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 uninvite someone from a wedding due to COVID gathering 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 guests who themselves may cancel, it immediately reduces the number of people you have to ask. Many out-of-town wedding guests have been making their own decisions regarding traveling for weddings, and that helps you. Many people have been financially strained, cancelling travel that’s been planned for a while – so it’s possible some of your out-of-town guests will fall into that category too.
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. Go into this process without expectations.
Once you’ve determined the new guest count, start CALLING those on the uninvite list to inform them.
It’s 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, FaceTime, or Zoom call, goes a long way in sharing your compassion and regret in 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 their family, see how they’re doing, and if there’s anything you can help them with during the crisis. Though they’ll be bummed they can’t make your wedding, they’re likely 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. Don’t casually mention having to reduce your guest list – make it clear they aren’t invited anymore. Otherwise, you could be dealing with an awkward situation: not having enough food or chairs, but also breaking state/venue laws regarding capacity.
Be polite, but firm. Make it clear that you wish this wasn’t the case, but you have restrictions to follow. Inform them you have to uninvite someone from your wedding – 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 travel to COVID anyway, 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.
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.
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. Having to uninvite someone from a wedding can feel awful – use this to remind them what you love about them. Consider mentioning something you admire about the guest and/or their relationship and tell them how, as a couple, you’ll use that inspiration moving forward in your own relationship. And of course, if they did send you a gift, thank them for that too. Kind words heal wounds.
The most important thing to remember is that there will be forgiveness here. 2020 and 2021 are going to be unique years for gatherings, and people worldwide know this. Your friends and family are going to want to support you in any way they can – even by staying home.
Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN.
I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.
This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.
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