Not Inviting Family to Your Wedding: Do's and Don'ts

When creating your wedding guest list, you have to decide what family members to invite to your special day.

By Shameika Rhymes

Not Inviting Family to Your Wedding: Do's and Don'ts
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

You said “Yes!” Now comes the fun part of planning your dream wedding. But one of your first tasks can be a challenging one: narrowing down the wedding guest list. What if there are some family members that might not make the cut?

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Reasons to Not Invite Family to the Wedding
Part 2: Dos to Consider When Not Inviting Family
Part 3: Don’ts to Consider When Not Inviting Family

It’s your wedding, and you can invite whoever you want to. You should definitely never feel obligated to invite anyone, including family members, especially if there’s good reason to leave them off the list.

Still, it can be an undeniably awkward situation. If you’re not sure how to handle it, Zola’s here to help. Read on:

Part 1: Reasons to Not Invite Family to the Wedding

Weddings often bring family drama to the surface. Usually, it’s important to invite family members to the wedding, but there are some exceptions.

The Relationship is Rocky and Can’t Be Repaired Before the Wedding

You want your loved ones surrounding you on your big day, but if there’s tension hovering, things can be a bit awkward. The idea of celebrating your wedding with extra guests you don’t get along with, dislike, or haven’t spoken to in years can be a tough decision. But, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth potentially ruining a relationship. If you’ll be seeing the person or people at future family events, perhaps you should think about mending things. If it's not salvageable, be prepared for possible repercussions.

The Budget is Tight

The amount of people you should invite to your wedding depends on a few things, including your budget, venue, and the type of vibe or atmosphere you’re trying to create. Usually, it’s best to split the guest list between you and your partner, so you have an even number of family and friends from both sides.

If you’re sticking to your wedding budget, then you have to think about how much you’re willing to spend, since that will determine how many people you can invite. Remember: wedding invitations cost money. If you’re on a tight budget, perhaps you can only afford to invite immediate family members from both sides.

They Make You and Others Uncomfortable

Sometimes, there are family members that tend to go overboard with everything. If having them at the wedding will make you or your guests uncomfortable, cutting them from your invite list is perfectly okay. While you could try to fix things ahead of time, sometimes it’s not worth the effort. Often, peace of mind is more valuable than having a relative that loves drama or has caused your family pain at the wedding. You shouldn’t feel forced to invite anyone that makes you uncomfortable, especially because it’s your wedding.

Part 2: Dos to Consider When Not Inviting Family

There are many couples who choose not to invite family members for various reasons, but it’s especially hard when it’s because of a strained relationship. Even budget constraints can be delicate, since you still have to be aware of people’s feelings. Here are some things to do when you’re not planning to invite family members to your wedding.

Do Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

For your wedding, you want to feel fulfilled rather than devoid, so it’s important to surround yourself with the people you’ve chosen as family. Family can mean close friends that you consider closer than blood relatives.

Do Be Honest

The worst thing you can do is completely avoid any questions about the uninvited guests. Confront the situation head on by explaining to family members that you had a tough decision, and you wanted everyone there, but the guest list is final. There’s no need to go into why you opted to keep them off the guest list. It’s up to you how much to reveal.

Do Be Mindful and Gentle With People’s Feelings

You’re already dealing with a lot of stress planning the wedding, and having to hurt someone’s feelings only adds to it. Still, it’s important to be mindful of your family members' feelings and be aware that they actually wanted to share in your big day, not just the free food and drinks. If they ask why they weren’t invited, try not to be offended and understand that they may simply feel left out.

Do Think of Other Ways to Include Non-Invited Family Members

If you’re having a smaller, intimate wedding and there are several family members that you weren’t able to invite to your celebration, there are still ways to include them. If you feel bad about not inviting them, have a second reception just for them. That can be in the form of a backyard cookout, a cocktail party, or even a big family dinner. It’s totally up to you and your partner.

Do Invite Them Virtually

Your wedding venue and budget may not allow for a big wedding. You can still include them virtually. Set up a webcam, or ask your videographer about streaming the wedding online so family members that weren’t invited to the actual in-person ceremony can still take part.

Do Thank Uninvited Family Members for Gifts

If the uninvited family member sends a gift, you should definitely thank them. If the non-invite issue comes up, it’s up to you whether or not you want to have that conversation. Remember: It’s your wedding day, and the guest list is up to you. You don’t have to explain yourself. However, if the person is sensitive about the situation, then you can just explain to them that you had tough decisions to make, but you still love them.

Part 3: Don’ts to Consider When Not Inviting Family

With not inviting some family members, there’s bound to be drama and backlash. Here are some tips to help you stand your ground:

Don’t Argue About Your Decision

It’s inevitable that the uninvited family member is going to be hurt and upset. If they start debating your decision, don’t argue about it. Instead, give them a warning that it’s something you don’t want to discuss. If they continue to ignore that, politely end the conversation. It’s not worth getting into an argument that could get nasty and cause an even bigger rift.

Don’t Give in to Invite Fishing

If someone starts getting pushy and fishing for an invite, don’t adjust your guest list because you feel guilty. Simply reiterate your decision and decline to discuss it further. Don’t answer any more questions about it after that.

Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Pressured

Once invited family members hear that some other family members weren’t invited, they may threaten not to attend your wedding. This is your wedding, your decision and they have to respect that. Tell them you’re sorry they won’t be attending, but don’t give in to them pushing you to change your mind.

Ultimately, it’s your wedding day and your budget. If you have a large family and a smaller budget, there will be some tough cuts. Give yourself grace when creating your guest list, and stand by your decision. Don’t invite the family members that were left off the guest list because you feel obligated or pressured. It’s your wedding—you make the rules.

If you need help creating your guest list, let Zola help. Use our free and easy to use guest list manager to make it simpler to collect RSVPs, meal choices, and mailing addresses.

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