Sometimes, you get a little carried away. I know the feeling. You pop into New World to grab some milk, and $200 later, you’re struggling to fit everything into the boot. Well, your wedding guest list can be a little like that too. You want this person to come – oh, and that person… you better invite them if they’re going… and suddenly… you’re staring at the till wondering how the hell you’re going to pay for all this. And that’s why today, we are talking about the not-so-fun task of how to uninvite guests when you’ve already sent them a Save the Date.
We get a few tough questions in the community, and this one was one of the meatier ones:
How do you go about telling people that you have decided to scale down wedding to an intimate family affair when save the dates have already been sent?
The couple in question had tallied up the costs, and realised their wedding was going to get way too out of hand. Unfortunately, they’d realised this after their Save the Dates had been posted. The frustrating thing is sending Save the Dates is OPTIONAL. If you don’t have a big budget, or if there’s ANY doubt about your guest list – don’t send them. Or only send them to overseas guests and close family. Save your money!
Proper Wedding Etiquette for calling the wedding off (…for some of your guests, anyway)
First up, for any awkward situations I like to refer to a printed book. That way I’m not making judgements clouded by personal opinion. The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book is one of my go-to books, and has some advice for how to deal with cancelling a wedding.
While the couple are still intending to be married in this situation, the resolution is similar:
The etiquette for cancelling the wedding is the same no matter the reason. If the invitations have not gone out, let your close friends and families know first, either by phone or e-mail (yes, e-mail is acceptable). You can ask your parents for help in this matter. If you sent Save-the-Dates, you may need to expand this phone/e-mail list to include your entire guest list, especially if some guests will already be busy making travel plans. A card can be sent if there is enough time.
Practical advice on how to deal with scaling back a wedding
Here’s how an engaged couple could keep (former) guests sweet:
- Firstly, I’d go against the advice of the etiquette book above and would actually avoid emailing where possible – especially in the situation where you are scaling back the wedding and they didn’t make the list. Ring your guests. We all know emails can be misconstrued and you want to minimise relationship issues going forward.
- Be honest with people. If they’re close enough to be invited to the wedding in the first place, they should understand why you’ve cut back.
- Do it sooner rather than later so your guests don’t spend money on a new outfit, or booking travel or accommodation. Rip off that bandaid and get it done!
- Don’t just not send them an invite as some people do only send Save the Dates. I have been to a wedding where we didn’t receive an invite, only a Save the Date (yes I did check we were still invited! The bride decided an invite wasn’t necessary… so didn’t send them). Burying your head in the sand is not an option. If you’re old enough to get married, you’re an adult and need to act like one.
Instead of uninviting guests, how about scaling back the budget?
If uninviting guests is the last thing you want to do, then consider whether you’re willing to sacrifice a few things for your big day. Changing up the structure may mean you are able to afford to have everyone attend after all. This will allow you to save face, awkward phone calls and credit card debt:
- Invite some people to the ceremony only, then have an intimate dinner for immediate family only – you could even cut the cake immediately after to share for afternoon tea.
- A potluck/bring a plate style wedding might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but would mean you can have more people there to enjoy your wedding day
- Have a cocktail menu only – this means you’ll only serve finger foods, which is a lot cheaper per head than a full meal. Be wary of this though, as if you’re supplying alcohol – alcohol and small portions of food can become messy.
- What about a cash bar or BYO wedding? Or even a dry wedding? If you’re financially a bit tight, saving on your bar bill could be a huge bonus.
Have you had to uninvite guests when you’ve already sent out a Save the Date? Or considered it?
If you’ve been in this situation, I would love to hear how you dealt with it, how your guests coped, and if you are pleased you did it (or regret it). Leave your thoughts below.