Making the Cut: Disinviting Wedding Guests

The pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives, including the way we celebrate love.

The tradition of having lots of guests in attendance is on hold for now. Due to enforced gathering limits and guidelines during this time, couples need to look at their guest list in a new way.

Scaling back on attendees is becoming more acceptable, with smaller celebrations and micro-weddings on the increase. Before the pandemic, the thought of disinviting people was a clear-cut no. But 2020 has brought about a shift in how things are done.

If you’ve decided to go ahead with a smaller micro-wedding, there are several basic aspects to consider, even if the save-the-dates or invitations were already sent.

The fundamental question should be: “Who can we not get married without?”

If you suddenly had to tie the knot tomorrow morning, who would have to be there? Perhaps only parents, siblings and best friends on either side. It might also mean fewer wedding party members.  

With that in mind, there are other downsizing tiers to think through. This is a hard reality to face, but the well-being of all is essential. Look at those who would travel the farthest, whether from out of state or internationally. Travel restrictions have seriously curtailed many people’s plans, and a long-distance journey could be risky. “Some guests may feel relieved because they may not feel comfortable traveling or being around more than a few people,” notes Kia Marie, a Chicago-based event planner and founder of Kia Marie Events.

Other guests might be deemed not vitally important to your special day, like work colleagues, friends of your parents, extended family, friends’ children and past school pals. They can join you at a later celebration when times are safer. 

“The guest list has always been one of the most difficult parts of planning a wedding, and now with micro-weddings, it has just gotten more difficult,” says Slomique Hawrylo of Carpe Diem Events. “However, if we look at the glass as half full, this is a great opportunity to ensure that a couple’s micro-wedding guestlist is full of people who have had a strong influence in their lives. The couple’s micro-wedding should be filled with an energy of support, love and warmth. When they look out at their guests on the Big Day, it should reflect the core of the couple’s morals and values, and love and devotion, but most of all, the room should reflect individuals who will continue to support the couple through their marriage to ensure that they live happily ever after.”

Is there a “best way” to inform the disinvited?

It can be awkward to choose who comes or not and keep the relationship intact. You want to maintain a personal touch. “The politest way to disinvite a guest is through a phone call or personal card,” says Marie. 

Hawrylo agrees. “The best way to inform guests that the capacity accommodations for the wedding have changed due to the unforeseen, ongoing pandemic is a phone call from the couple to each of their guests. This allows guests to hear the disappointment the couple feels about not having their presence there, as well as allowing the couple to get much-needed support,” says Hawrylo. “Once the couple explains the new guidelines of their state and county pertaining to moving forward with their wedding, most guests are not only supportive but we are finding that they are relieved. Some guests are afraid to travel or are concerned with their underlying conditions, so getting disinvited is a relief.” 

While everyone knows and understands the situation, a printed note is a tangible reminder. In this era of electronic messaging, sending a mass text is impersonal and can be deemed insensitive. 

“After each phone call that is made, I would suggest sending a handwritten note, thanking them for their understanding and support, and letting them know how the couple will be thinking about them on their Big Day,” says Hawrylo.

What’s an example of the wording for a printed note?

Custom stationery company Papered Wonders recommends something direct and simple, such as: “Our wedding plans have changed, and while they may not include you, we still want you to be a part of the magic when we say ‘I do.’ Please join the Livestream of our wedding day at the link below.”

How can you include those not physically present on the wedding day?

“The honor of your presence” may not apply to in-person attendance for many, but that shouldn’t exclude them from sharing in the joy. With today’s technology options, no one needs to feel disinvited. It’s just another way to connect. Embrace what’s available; see the possibilities, not obstacles.  

Livestreaming and ZOOM are now popular and becoming easier to access and share with others. “It allows family and friends unable to attend to feel as if they are part of the wedding day,” says Papered Wonders. 

ZOOM is a less-stress choice. ZOOM slide shows can be created with a link for viewing later. Livestreaming on YouTube is another route. Don’t be afraid to engage the services of qualified tech support along with your other vendors. It’s a decision you won’t regret. Another option is to get married by WebWed Mobile, a partner of SIGNATURE BRIDE, and a proprietary digital platform featured on Shark Tank, which allows couples to legally get married virtually from any location in the world.

Is a gift required if the invitation has been sent?

According to traditional wedding etiquette, couples should never require a guest to give them a gift, but guests know that a loving gift supporting the couple’s new journey in life is always appreciated. 

“In these new unprecedented times, guests should show their support more than ever. 2020 wedding couples have gone through so many disappointments, from canceled weddings, postponed weddings, losing deposits, and losing their dream wedding date to losing the big celebration. Guests who are in the financial place to bless the couple with an amazing gift, although they were disinvited (due to their safety and the safety of others), should do so,” suggests Hawrylo. “2020 couples have been through a lot, and your gift will truly warm their hearts and lift their spirits.”

Whatever options you choose to manage guest downsizing, do it as a couple. This is an ideal team practice for the future. And remember, no guest is really disinvited, they are just celebrating with you in a different way.