Telling someone they aren’t invited to your wedding can be, well, awkward, especially when they bring it up. While you shouldn’t feel bad that you can’t include everyone—venues have limits and so does your wallet—there are certainly better and worse ways to let someone know their invite isn’t in the mail. Here’s exactly what to say to friends who aren’t invited to your wedding.

You can’t afford it.

Weddings can be expensive. While it’s possible to get hitched on a budget, every guest still costs you and your partner money. Shrinking your guest list is one of the easiest ways to cut costs. Your friends who aren’t invited may understand this from the jump—or they may come directly to you and ask why they weren’t invited. It’s important to reiterate how important they are to you, but explain external factors were at play.

What to say: Always start off positive and validate your friend's feelings. You can say, “I really value our friendship and wanted you there, but unfortunately, due to our budget, we weren’t able to invite everyone. I hope you understand and know that I would love to celebrate with you on our own at a later date.”

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You’re worried about their behavior.

This is a touchy subject, but sometimes you don’t want to invite someone because of their undesirable behavior. Maybe your old frat brother really takes advantage of open bars—in a way that may distract from your night, or maybe you have a friend prone to constant gossip. Whatever the behavior, if you don’t want it at your wedding, you don’t need to have it.

What to say: If you’re comfortable being direct (and kind!), you can tell the person that because of their past behavior, they’re unfortunately not invited to your wedding. There’s a good chance the person is aware of their less-than-appropriate actions, so the news shouldn’t come as a total shock. Still, be gentle. This can also be a good opportunity for you to address any awkwardness or tension, and hopefully, even clear the air.

Say something along the lines of, “You are a very special person in my life, but unfortunately because of [insert behavior here], we decided it was best to not have you at our wedding. I hope you can understand where we are coming from, and realize this was a hard decision to make.”

You’re not as close anymore.

Friendships take different forms over the years, and you may not be as close to your college roommates, for example, today as you were back then. There may also be friends who invited you to their wedding years ago, but since then, you’ve lost touch. Just because you once had a close bond with someone doesn’t mean they automatically should be on your guest list.

What to say: Former close friends may feel hurt by the lack of invite so it’s important to talk to them with compassion. Say, “I value you as a friend and we’ve been through a lot together over the years. Because of the nature of our wedding, unfortunately, we couldn’t include everyone from our circles—even though we wish we could! I would love to catch up with you after the wedding and go for dinner.”

They’re your coworkers.

First things first: You don’t need to invite anyone from work if you don’t want to. While you may have a good relationship with coworkers or your boss, if you don’t have a friendship outside of work, there’s no need for them to come to your wedding. It’s also perfectly OK to invite one or two of your closest work pals and no one else. Again, this is your wedding and you can invite who you’d like. That being said, it can be awkward if your coworkers know you’re getting married, and continually ask you about your wedding planning.

What to say: If you’re having an intimate wedding, tell them that. You can say, “We’re keeping our wedding very small, strictly close family and friends. I’ll be sure to fill you in and show you photos once I return from my honeymoon.” You can also suggest post-wedding celebratory drinks with your colleagues. Pick a bar near the office and make the invite open.

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They’re distant relatives or there’s family drama.

Maybe your mom doesn’t speak to her sister or you aren’t close with your second cousin. Distant relatives or family members who have tension with your immediate clan may not get an invite. This is a touchier conversation to have because family may feel offended if others are included and they aren’t.

What to say: If you aren’t close to a family member but your parents are, however, your mom or dad may be the best one to explain the decision. If the uninvited person brings it up to you, you can simply say, “We’re so lucky to have so many family members, but unfortunately we couldn’t invite them all. We would love to see you for a celebration after the wedding.”

If there’s a relative that doesn’t get along well with others, or you’ve had a falling out with, they probably know why they aren’t getting a save-the-date. If you need to address the topic with them you can say, “I wish we were able to have you at our wedding, but due to circumstances, we are unable to have you there. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to celebrate as a family.”

Post-wedding Solutions

If there were quite a few guests you couldn’t include on your big day, you may want to have a post-wedding celebration, like a backyard potluck or cocktail party at your home. That way, you can invite a group of people who missed your wedding and have a mini-celebration.

Seeing friends one-on-one is also a great way to smooth over any hard wedding feelings as a catch-up over dinner offers those unable to attend your nuptials your undivided attention.

It’s important to remember, however, that if a guest is upset they aren’t invited to your wedding, it’s not up to you to justify your choice or apologize profusely. Be compassionate and listen to their feelings, but also be confident in your decision. As long as you and your spouse are at your nuptials, your most important guests are accounted for.