Regardless of the size or style of your wedding, it's all too common for brides-to-be to find themselves in some difficult situations pre-wedding. Today we're tackling five common but awkward situations and how to handle them with grace.
There are a few ways you can try to break this bad news – one is by addressing your invitations only to Mr So-and-So (no ‘and guest’), but even then, sometimes people just don’t get the hint. If you’re still looking for a subtle way to invite someone solo, make it clear on your RSVP cards (or your online RSVP site) with wording such as:
___ of 1 guest will attend
This may help your solo guest understand that they have only one spot allocated to the event.
If you’re worried people won’t get the message (and want to avoid an awkward phone call explaining the situation after your guest has RSVP'd for more than you’ve allocated), try some sensitive wording on your invitations:
“We regret that due to venue size only invited guests may attend” is usually a winner!
Finally – why not just be honest and upfront. Perhaps before you deliver an invitation you should have a brief chat with your guest and address the situation upfront “Uncle Jim, we love your current girlfriend Cindy, but we just aren’t able to have her join us for the wedding. We hope you’re still able to come along.” is honest, direct, and friendly!
There are plenty of situations where kids just don’t need to attend a wedding or reception. Some couples choose to have their receptions in cool licensed (read: 18+) venues like bars or clubs, while others plan on partying late late late into the night. It’s not evil or wrong to exclude children from your wedding, it’s purely a personal choice.
You can make your choice clear when sending invitations to families – Mr & Mrs Smith pretty clearly excludes their clan of mini-Smiths, and again, you can use your RSVP card to make clear that you have allocated just 2 places instead of 6!
Tactful invitation wording helps too, as well as trying to accommodate your guests’ needs – perhaps you can invite kids to the ceremony but not the reception? Or vice versa? You could even include the names of some reputable babysitters, or information about your venue's in-room babysitting or creche on your wedding website too!
This isn’t necessarily bad news – for some people, the fun of a wedding is all in the party, not in the ceremony! Regardless of your guests’ outlook however, it can sometimes be a delicate issue to discuss: some guests are very sensitive to the idea of being invited to an event purely so they can give a gift. We know this isn’t the reason you’re inviting them, but you’ll still need to avoid the appearance of greed, as well as any feelings of being ‘left out’ of the ceremony. Try some clear but polite wording on your invitations such as:
“Bob and Jill invite you to join them at a reception celebrating their marriage…”
“You are invited to eat, drink, and be merry at a reception celebrating the marriage of…”
“Bob and Jill together with their parents invite you to celebrate their love and commitment at a reception following their private ceremony…”
More formal? “Mr & Mrs Smith and Mr & Mrs Johnson invite you to a reception celebrating the marriage of their children Bob and Jill…”
Some people also prefer to include a brief sentence on their invitations along the lines of “a private wedding will precede the reception” however it’s up to you if you feel this is necessary!
Again, this isn't really bad news, but it's something that some guests may not have encountered before. The “Unplugged” wedding is growing in popularity as more and more couples find themselves facing a sea of smart phones and cameras as they walk down the aisle instead of a sea of smiling faces! If you think it will be difficult to pry your friends and family away from their tablets, phones, or cameras, why not try these firm but friendly wordings for invitations, programs, lines for your celebrant to speak, or even signs at your reception:
“Welcome to our ‘unplugged wedding’ – we invite you to be fully present with us during the ceremony. Please switch off all phones and cameras.”
“John Smith Photography will be capturing our ceremony. We invite you to relax and enjoy our special day by switching your camera or phone off.”
“The bride and groom respectfully request that guests honour the sanctity of this moment by turning off phones and cameras.”
“If you’d like to snap a photo of the bride and groom please do so now, as we ask that your cameras are switched off for the remainder of the ceremony.”
Remember that guests aren’t trying to disrupt or distract from your ceremony – they want to record your memories because they love you. It just takes a little firm but fair wording to ensure that their well-meaning recording habits don’t interfere with your special day!
Bad News #5: You’re Not Invited
Probably the hardest news to break – and for obvious reasons it’s not something you can explain with invitation wording. The bottom line for this one is that there’s a good chance you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, however if you explain gently to them why their feelings are being hurt, then they will see that it’s not for lack of love that they’ve been excluded. Most of the time there is a good honest reason for not inviting a friend or family member to your wedding (we are obviously not talking about estranged relationships here.. they shouldn’t require any explanations!).
Perhaps your venue lacks the space for a huge guest list, so you might explain to an uninvited colleague: “Our venue is pretty strict and only allows a certain number of guests to attend. We really have our heart set on it, so our guestlist has been restricted to very close family and friends – I hope you understand.”
Maybe you love the idea of a small and intimate wedding? For some people, this may be a totally foreign concept, so why not gently explain: “There are so many people we’d love to invite, but we made the decision to keep our wedding very small. It’s certainly nothing personal at all, but we are keeping it intimate with only some close family and friends attending.”
Are you paying for your wedding yourself? Then you’ll be very budget-conscious! Suddenly inviting your work colleague’s new girlfriend and her child is not your top priority! Why not explain “We’re paying for the wedding ourselves and really want to avoid going into debt over it. Unfortunately the limitations on our budget prevent us from inviting everyone we’d like to. I’m very sorry we can’t extend an invitation to you but I hope you understand.”
Have you had someone express interest in or excitement about attending your wedding, even though you weren’t actually planning on inviting them? It might be best to put a dampener on that straight away – a line such as “We can’t wait for our wedding either! But at the moment we’re still finalising our guest list, as we’re limited by (budget/venue/wedding size).”
Chances are, no matter how delicately you word something, you’ll still cause some disappointment or hurt. Be as sensitive as you can and remember that people want to attend your wedding because they love you (hopefully not just for the free booze and food), so be aware that even if they cause you some grief as you try to come up with the words to say “no”, they’re coming from a good place.
Do you have some great tips for an awkward wedding conversation? Share them in the comments below!