How to tell wedding guests things they don’t want to hear

Designing a wedding for you, your fiance and dozens, maybe even hundreds, of guests means that what you choose for your big day might not suit all of them. What it means, though, is that you might have to tell guests some things that they don’t want to hear – like they can’t bring their brand new lady love, or their children will have to sit this one out.

We have pulled together some tactful ways that you can pass on these messages that your guests may not be too excited to hear.

There are no plus-ones

When you are balancing your books to remain inside your budget or working within the realms of what is possible at your dream reception venue, it is perfectly acceptable not to give every single guest a plus-one.

In fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to cut back on spending and simultaneously lower your guest count.

If a guest asks if they can have a plus-one, all you have to do is politely point out the budget or venue constraints and most guests will understand.

Sorry, no children

Wanting to have a kid-free wedding is something that is often both practical and a good cost-saving measure.

It is also perfectly reasonable as long as you give parents plenty of notice that their children will need to be left with a babysitter that day or night.

You can note this on your personalised wedding website to avoid any awkward conversations, but ultimately, how you address the invite becomes the most important thing.

Avoid writing “Rawlins family” and instead write, Carol and Quentin Rawlins.

This is a clear sign the invitation is directed at the parents and not their children, so it should negate any awkward conversations or you having to justify why you have chosen not to include kids.

Alternatively, you may choose to simply have a child-free reception, and in this case, be sure to provide solutions for your guests by suggesting local babysitters or having a kids room complete with babysitters provided by you at the venue itself. This is an increasingly popular trend, and this way, guests will be able to check on their children easily.

Setting a dress code

Putting the dress code on your invitations is the best way to communicate any special dress requirements for your guests and also give them ample time to arrange a suit if required, or on the other hand, prevent them from the expense of buying or hiring one if you prefer the smart casual look.

If you are having a quirky, themed wedding and would like guests to wear a certain colour or style of outfit, be very clear so as not to cause any confusion.

Instead of writing “hot pink and burnt orange theme”, write something like, “Please wear a hot pink or burnt orange outfit or accessory to provide our special day with pops of colour.” That way, you will avoid any phone calls or emails where you need to tell guests again that the colour theme isn’t optional.

No free booze all night

Another easy way to cut costs is to restrict the open bar or remove top-shelf liquor from the bar tab.

You can still splash out by offering a few complimentary cocktails or restricting the bar to simple beer and wine with the option for guests to purchase other drinks.

Whatever you decide will work best for you, communicate it clearly on the invitation so people are not left in the lurch.

Similarly, if there is a cash bar before the reception starts, tell guests beforehand so they can be prepared.

Put the phone away

Social media and mobile phones have ruined many a wedding ceremony and sadly, also the photos the professionals are trying to capture on the day.

Not only that, but people holding up their phones in an attempt to get a photo can actually get in the way of guests behind them who actually want to see what is going on.

You can stop this in its tracks by placing up a decorative sign that informs guests of your no mobile phone policy – at least during the ceremony. This idea is increasing in popularity as more couples only want professional shots of their wedding, and means your guests will truly be present and not looking at their viewfinder.

You could also ask your celebrant to get on board with a quick message to tell guests before the ceremony starts.

You can’t sit here!

You may have certain spots at the ceremony reserved for your parents or elderly family members.

While there is an unspoken wedding rule, where guests take up seats at the back to allow family and close friends the opportunity to sit at the front, if you are worried great Aunty Daisy won’t get a seat, you can create signs with Reserved on them to place on the seats you’d like to keep free, that way, you don’t need to have someone tell guests anything at all.


This one is a tricky one for many reasons.

There is debate over whether you should tell anyone before you run away and get married.

You could potentially hurt the people who know about the wedding when they wonder why you didn’t want them along for the ride.

Similarly, you could hurt people close to you because you didn’t tell them beforehand.

Many eloped newlyweds like to host a party to announce their marriage, while others simply send out “We’re married!” cards with photos of their ceremony.

There really is no right or wrong, just go with what suits you and your partner and what you think will work best for your respective friends and families.

Here’s 10 ways to surprise your guests on your wedding!

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