How to Break the News to Friends Who Aren't Invited to Your Wedding

In Depth

Anyone who’s ever planned a wedding will tell you that—save for choosing what photo booth backdrop you’re going to use—figuring out your guest list is the absolute worst part of wedding planning. Some friends and coworkers simply won’t make the cut. This will be completely devastating for them!

Ladies, let’s face it: the simple truth is that the people you can’t invite to your wedding will be destroyed when they find out. This is the burden every bride must bear. Of course, in an ideal world, no one would be excluded from attending an event as mind-blowing as your own wedding, but: with the average cost of a wedding these days ranging from $30,000 to a billion dollars, the fact remains that the easiest way to keep costs down is to limit the number of guests at your event.

Here are some helpful tips for letting the Not Invited (it hurts even to write it!) down gently.

Inundate them with facts. FOMOW (Fear of Missing Out of Weddings) is a real and serious condition. When your coworker discovers that they are one of the only people in your department who weren’t invited to fly down to Cabo during the high season for your wedding day, it can trigger a powerful case of FOMOW.

The best thing to do is tackle it head on. Approach them, apologize, and explain to them that you have a huge family and so does your fiancé and you’re both being forced against your will to invite all your cousins AND second cousins and the second cousin thing is super complicated because half of them have a thing with your FIRST cousins AND, you won’t believe it, the venue has an absolutely absurd limit on how many guests it can fit because it’s a reclaimed yurt and your future mother-in-law is insisting they invite your fiancé’s former nanny whom he barely even remembers. Isn’t that nuts? And isn’t that interesting? Your coworker will be so overwhelmed with the immense volume of fascinating details about your wedding that they won’t even have time to process their own grief.

Downplay your wedding. This one will take some serious acting chops! It’s a necessary evil to speak poorly of your own wedding day so that the Not Invited are less aware of just how much they’ll be missing out. Next time you run into your upstairs neighbor (who obviously didn’t make the cut) make sure and let him know—before he’s even had a chance to say hello, preferably—just how absolutely run of the mill your wedding is going to be.

Some ideas: emphasize the mediocrity of mass-produced food, how the reception will be under a tent so probably be pretty uncomfortable temperature-wise and a huge pain in the ass if it rains, how it’s in another state and not near any airports, how it’s being held at 6PM on a Friday so you could get their Friday wedding rates. (Of course you know the truth: that the food will be uniquely delicious, the tent will be so elegant yet rustic that rain would only add to the charm, and that your guests will be honored to drive the three hours from the closest airport on a Friday during rush because they get to come to your wedding. But your neighbor doesn’t need to know that!)

Find other ways to involve them. Just because the Not Invited can’t be at the actual wedding doesn’t mean they can’t still be a part of your special day! Send them links to your registry so that they might participate by buying you a gift. Remind them that the act of giving is the fastest way to boost their mood! Or host a casual engagement party where you can invite a wider range of friends to come celebrate and buy you gifts.

Block them on all social media. It may seem drastic, but this is the only way to prevent them from seeing your wedding hashtag. Clicking on the hashtag of a wedding you weren’t invited to is a recipe for disaster. For the Not Invited, it’s often a slippery downward spiral into depression: a reminder of this and every other rejection you’ve faced in your lifetime (especially after a glass of wine or two). Blocking the Not Invited is a heroic act of tough love. Plus, it will allow you to post photos guilt-free! Nobody likes a guilt-riddled bride! And doing this will make it easier to…

Distance yourself from them personally. This is simply practical. Not only will forcibly distancing yourself from the Not Invited justify why you aren’t inviting them, it also helps soften the blow of the inevitable fallout post-wedding. After all, they weren’t there on the Greatest Night of Your Life. What will you have in common with these people anymore? Nothing.

It’s best to trim the fat early and quickly. Just try to do it gently. For example, if they pop by your office on their way to lunch to see if you want to join, a curt “No thanks, I’m not eating lunch today” will suffice. They’ll eventually get the hint. And while they may be hurt, ultimately the loss of a friendship is a small thing compared to the larger picture: that they weren’t invited to play a part in your amazing, unique, incredibly special wedding day.

Laura is a writer/actress/improviser living in New York City. She performs weekly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and has appeared on MTV’s Hey Girl, Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, and has written for Girl Code, Cosmopolitan, The Date Report, and Nerve. She does all her tweeting via @Laura_Willcox on

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