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How to Tell Someone They're Not Invited to Your Wedding

Planning an intimate wedding? Here are 15 ways to politely tell someone they're not invited to your wedding - without making it awkward!

wedding invitations that say 'you're not invited to our wedding' on them

wedding invitations that say 'you're not invited to our wedding' on them

Whether it’s down to budget restraints, capacity limits, or you just don’t want this person to attend your wedding, we’ve explored the best and most polite ways to tell someone that they’re not invited to your wedding. 

If you’re close to the person and would love to invite them but can’t for whatever reason, we’ve got an apology letter template you can copy to let them know they’re not invited. We've also got expert advice from British etiquette coach, podcast host and TikTok star, William Hanson!

If it’s someone you don’t know well, like a friend of your parents or a plus one a guest wants to bring, there are still plenty of easy and polite ways to let them know they’re not invited, without needing to resort to a more formal template. 

Read on to discover all the ways to say ‘you’re not invited to my wedding’ - including our Hitched exclusive 'you're not invited' wedding invitation to help you truly get the message across. 

How To Un-invite Someone From Your Wedding

Bride and groom walking away from the camera hand in hand through a park

There’s nothing more awkward than someone assuming they’re invited to your wedding - we hear from so many couples who are put in a tricky situation because a friend thinks they’re bringing a plus one, or a colleague assumes they’ve scored a day invite. The best thing you can do is address it right away, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel - the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.

Planning your wedding guest list can be challenging, and there are lots of reasons why someone might not be invited - it’s not a one size fits all situation. So, here are some very acceptable reasons for not inviting somebody to your wedding, and examples of ways to let them know.

Budget Restrictions 

Whether the budget is the reason or not, it’s a safe excuse to fall back on if you want to kindly explain why someone isn’t invited to your wedding without hurting any feelings. No-one can argue with how expensive a wedding can be, and money is a personal matter. So, you’re unlikely to receive much pushback from miffed recipients. 

Here are some polite ways to start that conversation: 

  • "We’re so sorry, but due to budget constraints we’re keeping our guest list really small."
  • "As our family is paying for a significant portion of our wedding, we’re trying to keep numbers as small as possible."
  • "We’re trying to save for a house as well as pay for our wedding, so we’re keeping it small as possible."

Venue Capacity 

You can’t argue with numbers, and explaining that the venue has a limited capacity is a very reasonable excuse. This is more easily explained if you’re having a smaller wedding, but it can also work for those with larger guest lists too. Perhaps you’ve hit capacity because of your partner’s huge extended family wanting to attend, or you wanted to offer those closest to you the option to bring a plus one. 

Whatever the reason, here are some gentle ways to let them know they aren’t invited due to venue capacity:

  • "Unfortunately our venue has really limited capacity so we’ve had to really scale back our guest list."
  • "We’re so sorry but we just don’t have the space in our venue to accommodate plus ones/children etc."
  • "The venue we fell in love with has a max capacity of [NUMBER], so we’re really limited on who we can invite."

It’s an Intimate Wedding

One of the most alluring - and sometimes challenging - elements of an intimate wedding or a micro-wedding is that couples get to be exclusive with the guest list. This can have its benefits, as it’s a nice and simple way to let distant relatives and long-ago friends know that there is a very understandable reason as to why they won’t be invited to your wedding. 

However, there are often a few people who accidentally assume they would be invited to a more intimate ceremony. 

If this isn’t the case, don’t worry. Here are a few gentle ways to set them straight: 

  • "We’ve chosen to have a very intimate wedding celebration with just close family/friends. We’d love to celebrate with you at a later date though!"
  • "We’ve decided to keep our wedding celebration really small - however we’d love to invite you to our anni-ception next year."
  • "Thank you for asking about our wedding! We’re keeping the numbers really small as we’d like to have an intimate wedding, but I do appreciate you asking about it."

It’s a 'No Children' Wedding

Three boys playing on their phones at a wedding

People love to assume their kids are invited to your wedding, don’t they? But it’s one of the number one rules for wedding guests - if their names aren’t down, they’re not coming in. Here are the best examples of child free wedding wording.

If someone asks you if their children are invited to your wedding, you can politely explain that they’re not invited by saying this: 

  • “I’m sorry, as much as we love [CHILD’S NAME], we’ve decided to have a child-free wedding/limit it to the children of immediate family only. We hope you’ll still be able to come.”

Remember, it’s not always straightforward to arrange childcare, so if your guests decline to attend due to this, it’s not personal. 

They’re a Colleague

It’s always a little awkward when colleagues assume that they’re invited to your wedding. Again - the best way around this is to be clear that they are not on the guest list. 

If you have invited some colleagues and not others, ask them to keep it discreet. You might have the option of evening invitations for your co-workers if you’re close to them, but it’s entirely your right to have a work-free wedding, or only invite the colleagues you really get along with. 

Here are a couple of trusty lines that won’t cause awkward workplace tension:

  • “As much as I care about you all and enjoy working with you, our guest list is very limited so [PARTNER] and I have both agreed not to invite colleagues.”
  •  “Due to a really tight venue capacity, I’m afraid we’re only inviting people that we socialise with outside of work, but I’d love to celebrate with everyone with some cake once we’re back from our honeymoon.”

They’re a Distant Relative

Feeling obliged to invite distant relatives to your wedding can be frustrating. It may mean that you aren’t able to offer your closest friends and family the option to have a plus-one, or worse, you don’t have room for some of your favourite people at your wedding. 

If this is the case and you decide to strike off some family members from the list, here is a polite way to do so: 

  • “We’ve chosen to celebrate with just close family and friends, but we’d love to celebrate with extended family once we’re back from our honeymoon.”

Equally, you could fall back on one of the explanations from the section on venue capacity or budget. 

They’re an Ex 

The good thing about telling an ex that they aren’t invited is that the reason is probably already clear. Whether they have history with you or with your partner, you probably don’t have to go into too much detail about why it might be best that they don’t attend the wedding. 

However, sometimes ex-partners remain in people’s lives for good reason. Perhaps they’re still friends, they’re in a new relationship with someone you’re close to, or maybe they share a child with your fiancé. Both examples can be a little tricky to navigate, but if you approach them openly and honestly, they’ll usually understand. 

If you’re not sure quite how to word it, consider using this phrase: 

  • “We hope you understand, but considering the history between you and [MYSELF/PARTNER’S NAME] we think it might be more comfortable for everyone if you didn’t attend the wedding.”

Just remember that if you’re addressing your fiancé’s ex instead of your own, double-check that your partner is comfortable with how you deliver the news to the individual. 

How to Tell Someone They Don’t Have a Plus One

Man laughing at a wedding as he dances with his partner

If you need a polite way to tell someone their plus one isn’t invited to your wedding, try to be upfront about it. You should make it very clear on the save the date and your wedding invitations that it is addressed to only the person or people you want to attend.

If they still bring up the topic of a plus one, be polite but firm: 

  • “I’m so sorry but due to budget limitations/venue capacity, I’m afraid we can’t justify plus ones.” 

If you want to add additional reasoning, such as ‘plus ones we don’t know well’ etc. you can, but remember this is your wedding and you’re funding it, so you don’t need to explain yourself. 

It’s also important to consider why this guest might want to bring a plus one - if they’re a friend that doesn’t know many people at the wedding, they might want to bring a date so they have someone to keep them company.

If you think this is the case, you could always compromise and extend an evening invitation to their plus one, or offer to grant them a plus one if someone else RSVPs no, but it’s entirely up to you. 

Etiquette Advice From William Hanson

William Hanson is a British etiquette coach and the Director of The English Manner. He's also a Sunday Times bestselling author, and host of the podcasts Help I Sexted My Boss and Keeping Up Appearances: The Luxury Podcast. Regarded as one of the most trusted authorities on the rules of etiquette, his tips and tricks on improving your manners has reach over 4 million users on TikTok and Instagram.

So, we thought he'd be the perfect person to shed some light on this tricky matter! Here are his top tips for letting someone know that they aren't invited to your wedding: 

How to tell someone that they aren't invited to your wedding? 

"First of all, you obviously don't really want to be telling someone that they are not invited to your wedding and when you get engaged my advice to couples is that you don't get carried away in the excitement of the moment of being engaged and start telling everybody they're coming - 'oh you must come to the wedding, you must come'. 

"Because really once you've said that, particularly in an age where we are not as focused on correct procedure and invitations, once you have basically given someone an indication that they are going to come to your wedding, it's fair enough that they expect that they are going to be coming to your wedding. 

"So you've only got yourself to blame if you then have to turn around and say 'oh actually you're not invited'; and it does sound a little bit 'playground' to say that to people. So the only reason you really want to dis-invite someone is maybe for financial reasons - you had wanted a wedding for 100 but actually you're only going to be able to have 35 and so circumstances have changed; and real friends will understand that, as long as the reason is real."

Should you tell them in person, with a letter, or over the phone? 

"Definitely voice-to-voice, in an ideal world that is face-to-face, but it might be that they are a long distance friend and so you are going to have to do that by Facetime or similar, or on a telephone call. 

"A text message hopefully does not enter your head, that you're going to do that, but really you want to tell them person-to-person. A letter, again it would all depend on the circumstance, but probably I would say it is not needed."

What are the best reasons for not inviting someone to your wedding? 

"As discussed earlier, really the only reason not to invite someone to your wedding is because of financial reasons - your budget has changed, your circumstances have changed; it could be that at the time you got engaged you were both in really high-paying jobs and were going to have a lavish wedding and then you were both made redundant, and actually the budget pool has run dry for the marriage.

"Limited venue capacity would also be a legitimate reason for dis-inviting someone but, again, no one should be invited - or even talked about being invited - until you know exactly how many people you are able to accommodate.  Of course if something happens to your venue, it burns down for example, and you have to switch venues that is a legitimate reason and that would be ok.  And in that instance friends should understand if you are truthful and honest, but I think if you try to make it sound like it's a problem and that you're coming up with a different excuse then it's a slippery slope!

"Obviously that is unfortunate and, as mentioned, real friends should understand, but actually if you are dis-inviting someone because you have kind of gone off them, again it's a bit juvenile and once you have told someone 'please come to my wedding, I'd love you to come to my wedding' you really do need to stand by that and sort of just suck it up, you don't necessarily need to be their friend going forward.

"However, if you do actually decide to not invite someone because you don't like them any more, you do also have to be prepared that that person may not be around in your life for much longer going forward so you do have to be happy with that."

Fascinating! If you want to follow William's advice and  break the news to an unwanted guest, keep reading for our "un-invitation" template to let them down gently.

Apology Letter for Not Inviting Someone to Your Wedding

'You're not invited' wedding invitation

If there’s someone who you’d genuinely love to have at your wedding but you can’t invite them - whether it’s due to budgets, capacity or a more complicated personal reason, you can send them an apology letter explaining why they’re not invited to your wedding. 

It doesn’t have to be a formal letter on paper delivered by post, but you can use the following apology letter template in a text message or an email even to explain politely why they’re not invited to your wedding. 

Wedding Un-Invitation: Template

Dear [Name]

I hope you’re well. I just wanted to get in touch about our wedding. I’m so sorry to say we will not be able to invite you. As much as we really wish we could celebrate with you, we’re afraid that due to [budget limits/capacity/etc.], we’ve got to keep our guest list really small.

We understand that this may come as a disappointment to you, and we apologise for that but hope that you understand. 

However, we’d still love to celebrate with you at some point - we’ll be having drinks and cake at [location] to mark the occasion and it would be wonderful to see you there.

Lots of love,

[Your names].

You can tweak this apology letter template to suit your specific needs, reasonings and alternative celebration plans - perhaps you’ll have a streamable link to your wedding they could watch or you’ll plan another party to celebrate your marriage at a later date.

It’s never easy to plan your guest list so go easy on yourself if you have to have some tricky conversations. Remember that, at the end of the day, it’s your party so you have the right to celebrate how you want to, with who you want.