For your special day, planning a wedding that suits you both, that reflects you as a couple and that makes you happy is the most important thing. However, it has often been said that as the happy couple, it’s nigh on impossible to plan a wedding and not upset someone. While no one wants unhappy guests on their wedding day, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to plan an event that accommodates every guest’s needs, wants and whims.
That being said, there are a number of sensitive subjects that have the potential to cause offence or upset your guests, but with a bit of thought, preparation, and artful wording, you can ensure no one is needlessly upset.
Guest List Issues
In the weeks prior to your wedding, it’s inevitable that someone will ask you why a certain family member, friend, or even the person asking, wasn’t invited. It’s never an easy conversation, but having a phrase at hand to diffuse any awkwardness can be invaluable and help to keep the peace.
It’s important to be open and honest – lies told to spare someone’s feelings inevitably come back to haunt us in one way or another. However, being bluntly honest carries the risk of sounding mean, so tact is important.
Giving a good reason as to why a certain person hasn’t been invited is about being honest. If it’s because the venue can’t accommodate that many people, or your budget can’t stretch that far, or you just want your wedding day to be small and intimate, don’t be afraid to say that.
Expressing that having that person there would have been lovely, had circumstances permitted, can help to make people feel less excluded.
Finally an offer that you would like to spend time with them, whether that’s regretting that they won’t be there, or offering to catch up after the wedding makes them feel included and valued.
“We’d have loved to have invited _____, but our venue is restricted on numbers. Cutting our guest list down has been really tough, and it would have been lovely to have them there. I’d love to catch up with them sometime afterwards.”
“We’re paying for the wedding ourselves, and we don’t want to start our married life in lots of debt, so we’ve had to be strict on the number of guests we can invite. I’d still love to catch up with you afterwards.”
“We really want a small, intimate wedding, so we’ve only invited really close family and friends. I really appreciate your interest, though!”
Be prepared that people are going to feel disappointed, and there’s nothing you can do about that. Acting with kindness, patience, and tact can help to soften the blow, though.
There are lots of reasons why you might not want your guests to bring their children to your wedding – there may be a restriction on the number of guests your venue can accommodate, their alcohol licence might insist upon a policy of no under-18s, you might want to keep the costs down, or you might be unsure about how to entertain children on your special day. Whatever your reason, requesting that children do not attend is a common choice now for couples, and can also be a very touchy subject.
It’s best to address this in your invitation suite. There’s a delicate line to tread to ensure that your guests find your no-children policy reasonable and don’t take offence that their beloved bundle of joy isn’t invited. A good course of action is to include a fair reason as to why children are not permitted. If it’s because the venue can’t accommodate children, or that numbers are restricted, simply state that clearly and politely:
“Unfortunately, due to restricted numbers, we’re unable to accommodate children.”
“Due to venue restrictions, we respectfully ask that children do not attend.”
It gets trickier when the no-children policy is through choice rather than venue or budget restrictions, as this leaves room for parents to take offence and feel that their little ones are being excluded. Using wording that turns this into a positive is key – many parents might relish the opportunity to spend a whole day child-free!
“We want our guests to feel relaxed and enjoy themselves, therefore we ask that parents take the evening off and leave their children with the babysitter.”
“We ask that parents take this opportunity to enjoy our wedding child-free.”
Directness is important, as being too vague means that many could miss your hints to leave their child with the grandparents, or interpret your child-free policy as optional. Make sure you’re firm but fair, and give guests plenty of time to arrange childcare.
Telling your guests that your wedding is taking place abroad can be a tricky thing. For many, it’s an exciting prospect, and a good number of your guests will be getting their trips booked and bags packed as soon as they’ve RSVP’d.
However, inevitably, a destination wedding is just not possible for others. It can be expensive, and it requires a bigger commitment in terms of taking time off work and organising childcare. Those who can’t make it to your destination wedding may feel guilty, upset and worried that you’ll take their absence personally.
The trick here is to acknowledge that you understand not everyone will be able to come, and that if they can’t it doesn’t mean you’ll take any offence. An effective way of expressing this is via your RSVP options. When declining an invitation, many people will want to explain their decision and offer their best wishes to you. Giving them an option to do this on your RSVP cards can help to alleviate any guilt. Instead of the traditional “I can’t attend” tick-box, try softening the wording:
“I’ll be sending my best wishes from afar”
“Sorry to miss the fun”
If you like, you can leave space for people to write a quick note to send their best wishes to you or explain their decision if they want.
Kindness is Key
Seeing the situation from everyone’s point of view can help you to diffuse potentially awkward or argument-causing situations casualty-free. Many people will have issues simply because they want to be there to support you on your wedding day. It’s also important to be kind to yourself – you can’t accommodate everything and at a certain point it can be incredibly stressful and draining trying to keep everyone happy. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and you’re perfectly entitled to expect your guests to respect your wishes.
At 315 Press, I create beautiful wedding stationery suites, from invitations and save the date cards to custom-printed envelopes and bespoke illustration, helping keep your guests fully informed about your plans for your big day. Check out my semi-bespoke range, or contact me to talk about your needs.