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The Guest List: How to Say “No”

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http://shootanyangle.com/weddings/One of the biggest headaches when getting married is the dreaded guest list.  In the beginning, you think it’ll be easy – just add family and friends, and done!  Right?  Wrong!  That’s before your mother gets involved, your mother-in-law gets involved, your cousin gets involved, and your bridesmaid gets involved.  “Not their call,” you may say, and you’d be right.  But, sadly, unsolicited advice is a common occurrence in life, but it’s REALLY common during wedding planning.  So, how do you deal with disputes that arise?

First thing’s first.  Pick and choose your battles.  A new boyfriend who is on the shy side is a safer bet than a likes-to-get-drunk-at-all-social-events co-worker.  You can’t fight and win all battles, so choose wisely making sure to keep in mind who the request is coming from and how both you and your fiancé feel about having that guest there.  If acceptable, invite those guests with a smile.  Then, it’s time to deal with the guests you don’t want to invite.  Here are the typical ones that will come up and some ideas for how to diffuse the tension and get the wanna-be-guest (or guest’s sponsor) off your back.  These are just suggestions though (and mostly untested), so always use your best judgement when coming up with your tailored response.  The final words need to be your own, and I find it best to keep it short.  After all, you know the person and the situation!

1.  Your Boss

Sure.  He/she may pay your salary, but weddings are personal.  As we all know, they are called “Personal Days” for a reason.  Your work is a different world than your personal one, so if you aren’t all buddy-buddy with your boss, you do not have to invite him/her.  So, how to dodge the question if it comes up?

Try:  “We’re limited on space and budget, so we have to stick to family and close friends.”

Or:  “We’d love to invite you, but then we’d feel obligated to invite the whole office and my fiancé’s co-workers too, and that’s too much.  So, we had to limit it to friends and family only.”

2.  A Guest’s New Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Every bride hates this one.  Here you are paying an arm and a leg for the wedding, and a guest wants his/her new fling invited without any thought as to how much more it will cost you.  Well, if he/she is a new flame, it’s not that serious.  So, if space is tight, you don’t have to extend an invitation to the significant other (or give the guest a plus one).  Now, if the couple has been together a significant amount of time (say, 6 months or more at the time of the invite – and especially if they’ve been together longer than you and your fiancé), then he/she should be invited.  Same goes if the guest has a significant role in the wedding (bridesmaid, groomsman, reader, officiant, etc).  If neither of those are applicable and space is tight, here’s how to handle that one.

“I’d love to invite him/her, but we just don’t have the space or budget to accommodate all the extra guests that we’ve been asked to invite.  Plus, he/she doesn’t know anyone at the wedding except you.  We wouldn’t want him/her to feel uncomfortable.”

3.  The Aunt/Uncle/Cousin You’ve Never Met

It’s funny how long-lost relatives all the sudden pop up once someone is getting married, but they do.  Some people believe that as long as there is a blood-line, then an invite is required.  As someone who has over 50 members on my mother’s side of the family alone (that I know personally – but there are more), I can’t afford to subscribe to that theory!  Even if you don’t have a huge family, a relative you’ve never met is oftentimes a guest brides don’t want to invite.  Here’s how to handle that.

“I’d love to meet him/her in the future, but we just don’t feel our wedding is the appropriate place.  As it is, the guest list is just too tight.”

4.  The Random Person Who Your Relative/Friend Already Invited

Shocking, but it does happen.  When it does, it can be very stressful, but try this approach.

“I’m very sorry, but there’s been a misunderstanding.  I’ve been told that you received an invite to our wedding.  Unfortunately, that person was not authorized to extend invitations, and we’re already at capacity for guests.  I’m terribly sorry for the position this has put you in, and I hope you understand.”

5.  Exes

Yikes!!  You’d think it’d be self-explanatory that exes are blacklisted from weddings (unless everyone involved are friends and alright about them coming – which is rare), but I’ve heard some horror stories about brides and grooms being pressured to invite exes.  Here’s how to deal with that one.

“Our marriage is a celebration of our relationship, not relationships of the past.  We want to look towards our future, not at what we chose to leave behind.”

6.  The Person Who Invited You To Their Wedding

People change and some drift apart.  Just because someone invited you to their wedding does not mean you are obligated to reciprocate – especially if things have changed.  You already gave them a gift after all.  Try this.

“We’ve decided to have a more intimate wedding, and we already have more family and close friends than we have room for.  I hope you understand.”

~

Now, these suggested responses are all well and good if they work the first time, but what if you are dealing with someone irrational (we all know someone like that!), and they keep pressuring you?  At that point, I’ve found it best to be polite but firm.  Something along the lines of “I’m sorry, but we cannot invite him/her, and that decision is firm.”  If that still doesn’t work, it’s sometimes best to just ignore future appeals.  So much of our communication these days are via email and text, so those are easy to leave unanswered.  If the appeal is done in person, you can simply say, “I’m sorry, but that’s a stressful topic. Let’s talk about something else.”  Remember, try to always stay as polite as possible.  Anger will only lead to animosity, so keep that at bay.  It’s okay to say no as long as you do it respectfully.

Good luck!

Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.

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