I was contacted recently by a delightful reader concerned about how to politely, but firmly, say no to ‘guest list gate crashers’ (as I like to call them). Quite timely really, considering this article just popped up in the news about Pippa Middleton’s alleged attempt to manage her wedding guest list woes!
I know you’ve been there (and let me reassure you, this behaviour isn’t unique to weddings)! You announce your engagement and then ‘The Assumption Crew’ start chiming in and inviting themselves. You know the ones. Bless their enthusiastic souls. Before the air has even passed from your breath to say you’re engaged, they have already bought their entire wedding outfit.
Managing guest lists was by far one of the most challenging parts of my wedding planning. Not deciding on the guest list so much, but managing friends and families expectations and subsequent disappointments – (we chose to have a small wedding)!
Don’t commit in advance
Hold your tongue!
A big one I learned very quickly.
Don’t get over excited and commit to inviting ANYONE in advance verbally. Until you have put pen to paper and really bashed out the guest list and also have a better understanding of budget and venue capacity, anything can happen. As soon as you start adding partners and children your numbers triple. So all of us, regardless of how generous our budgets are, have to draw the line somewhere.
Be explicit in your invitations
Pippa Middleton’s alleged “No Ring No Bring” policy seems like a great idea to manage those expectations and get a grip on the list!
Many people assume they can bring a plus one, their latest squeeze or even their children. Remove all opportunities for guests to assume and ensure your invitations explicitly name each individual that has been invited. If you are not able to accommodate children, sometimes it is also worth adding a note to affirm this so it is crystal clear!
Pick up the phone
Sometimes the best way to manage damage limitation with close friends and family, is to pick up the phone. Avoid text messages or emails they can be misinterpreted.
You don’t need to justify your reasons behind who you wish to celebrate your wedding with. Your guest list should include those you want to invite and NOT out of obligation. Don’t allow other people’s emotional blackmail make you feel anything other than joyful about your day.
Sometimes anticipating and addressing a potential issue before it arises can help massively. Especially to those who have assumed they are getting an invite and won’t be. Perhaps offer to celebrate on another occasion whilst reminiscing over images! Read on…
Blame the venue or budget
ALWAYS blame the venue or budget! People always want to portion blame, so it takes the pressure off of you seemingly being a meanie!
Hi xxx – As you know we are getting married! We’ve had to restrict the guest list which means as much as we would like to celebrate with every single one of our friends and families on the day, it won’t be possible due to venue / budget restrictions.
…I recognise this may be disappointing, we’re disappointed too! But it has no bearing on our relationship and we’d love to personally celebrate with you over dinner after the wedding. Let’s get a date in the diary!
If this feels too ‘icky’ to do yourself – delegate to your other half to manage and vice versa! Or if you are not particularly close, delegate to a parent to manage, especially if the ‘guest list gate crashers’ are not your immediate family, but a distant relative and may take the news better from them!
We cannot control how they interpret what comes out of our mouth, but we can control how we sensitively deliver it.
Involve them another way
Don’t misinterpret ‘guest list gate crashers’ enthusiasm to celebrate with you. Whilst it can be challenging managing so many expectations and assumptions, it also means you and your beau are popular cats! People want to celebrate and spend time with you, which is lovely (unless they are craven and just want the free food and drink of course)!! Remember whilst the way their behaviour is being displayed may not be ideal, it’s mostly coming from a good place. Just remembering that can alter your thoughts about the situation.
I went to the most delightful wedding in Ireland last week and they call their evening guests, ‘The Afters’ which I found incredibly endearing. If you are having celebrations that go into the evening and have the venue capacity to add additional numbers for the after party, this can be a fair compromise. For some having the ability to invite extra people who you would like to celebrate with exclusively to your evening reception for a boogie on the dance floor is just the ticket. Not for everyone. But a happy medium for some!
Ultimately it is your day and absolutely your prerogative who you celebrate with. Sometimes we have to say no, it doesn’t mean that we are being cruel or don’t care about the people we are saying no to, it simply means we are saying no.
Would love to hear how you get on and from any of you who experienced guest list gate crashers. lol?