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. Think back to writing your guest list. You wanted 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.
Pop in a dash of global pandemic, a cup of Level 4 lockdown and well, no wonder wedding planning is stressful!
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.
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 invitation:
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.
- Rip off that bandaid and get it done! The longer you sit and fret about it, the more of a ‘think’ it’ll become in your head.
- 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. Especially if it’s COVID-19 related.
- Do it sooner rather than later so your guests don’t spend money on a new outfit, or booking travel or accommodation. At the moment airlines are offering generous credit policies so if flights have already been booked, chances are they won’t be too far out of pocket.
- Don’t just not send them an invite as some people do only send Save the Dates. 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.
Postponing your wedding instead
If you can’t face the idea of telling guests they can’t come, if circumstances allow perhaps you can postpone your wedding. This gives you the added advantage of more time to save. If you’re going to do this:
- Send out a ‘Change of Plans’ Card to guests. This gives them some assurance for booking travel and making plans, plus gives them a physical reminder of dates (and locations if necessary).
- She Said Yes has some great advice on how to manage postponing your wedding here. I’d highly recommend reading her post if you’re considering this option.
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.