How Do I Say, “Sorry, You’re Not Invited”?

There’s a troublesome member of your family who’s all but guaranteed to cause an ugly scene at your wedding. But he/she’s family! How do you tactfully explain that you’re not inviting him/her? Here’s how to handle it. 

  • Start by talking to your mate. Alert him/her in advance that you want your wedding day to be drama-free and stress-free, and the presence of the offending relative would be a source of great stress. You can tell your mate the reasons behind your decision if you like. Once the two of you are united in your decision, the difficult chore of giving the unpleasant relative the bad news won’t become a source of friction between you and your spouse.
  • Don’t send an invitation. You don’t have to announce that you’re keeping someone off your guest list. Just don’t invite them. If there’s been bad blood between the two of you, there’s a good chance the offending relative will already know why he/she wasn’t invited, and understand.
  • What if the “guestzilla” challenges you? When word gets around that your other relatives are all invited, the unpleasant relative may demand to know why he/she was excluded. This is not the time to re-air all of your grievances. Simply say it was a painful decision for you, but you’re uncomfortable with them being at the wedding, that you’ve made your decision, that it’s final, and that you’re not going to talk about it any more.
  • What if the bad relative starts lobbying? There’s a good chance the non-guest will try to coax your parents or other trusted guests to pressure you to change your mind, “be gracious,” and invite them. Then THEY will want to know why you made your decision. Give them the same answer: “I don’t feel comfortable having him/her at my wedding.” When they press for an explanation, don’t cave in. The minute you explain your reasons, you effectively invite everyone else to reopen all those old wounds and force you to justify your decision. Then you’re on the defensive. Simply say, “My decision is final, and I’m not going to talk about it further.” When they press further, simply ask, “Are we done here?” Don’t get roped into endlessly re-litigating old conflicts and playing “He Said/She Said.” It’s over. The decision has been made. Stick to it.
  • “Well, then, I’m not coming either.” Someone is going to try THAT power play on you. Stand your ground. Tell the invitee, “We love you, and we’d love for you to be there to share our joy. That’s why we invited you; but if you simply can’t come, we respect your decision.” You don’t have to ask them to respect YOUR decision, because they’ll just try to make you justify it. Remember, the only two people who really have to be at your wedding are you and your spouse.
  • It’ll be painful. Yes, you’re going to have second thoughts, and you’ll have to deal with some hurt feelings; and that never feels good. But giving a loose cannon the power to trash your wedding with their self-serving histrionics would be a lot more painful. Understand that, and make peace with it. Then move ahead.
  • If you want to try to reconcile, offer to do it AFTER the wedding. If the objectionable relative refuses, you’ll know you were right to leave him/her off the guest list. If the relative agrees to sit down for a heart-to-heart reconciliation, that’s a bonus. Reassure them that you still love them, and that your decision was based only on what was best for your wedding. Then begin the fence-mending.

Your wedding is going to have enough tears already — tears of joy. You don’t want any angry, tearful drama from someone trying to use your wedding as a platform to settle all their old scores. This is a day to be happy, and share the joy with the people closest to you. 

© Fourth Estate Audio, 2016 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.    

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