How To Choose Your Precious 30 Wedding Guests – And Uninvite Everyone Else

Weddings of up to 30 people will soon be allowed in England. Prepare for the family drama.

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Weddings of up to 30 people can go ahead in England from July 4, and while it will be welcome news to those facing postponements, it poses an awkward problem for anyone who’s planned a larger celebration.

How the hell do you choose your favourite 30 people, from a list that’s twice – or even three times – the length? And how do you retract invites, while keeping relationships with family and friends in tact?

One option, advises William Hanson, etiquette coach and director of The English Manner, is to avoid the problem altogether by considering postponing.

“Weddings can annoy and upset people at the best of times and Covid is only going to make things worse with the new guidance,” he tells HuffPost UK. “If I had planned a bigger wedding, I would question how much I needed to get married this year versus whether I should hold off, rather than settling for a scaled-back affair.”

That advice is unlikely to help those who can’t bear the thought of a further delay, though – particularly if you’ve already postponed once, your venue won’t budge, or your wedding insurance won’t cover the penalty fees.

Those wanting to press ahead with a more intimate day should think about the people they’ve seen in the last six months when considering who gets priority boarding, says Jennifer Claire Constant, founder of The Celebrant Directory.

“Close your eyes and imagine who’s a big part of your life and, if they weren’t there on your wedding day, would be a really upsetting thing for you,” she says. “Also think about people who make you feel happy and have always been there and supported you.”

Zolga_F via Getty Images/HuffPost

Constant advises against choosing guests simply because you feel obliged to – now’s not the time to buy into family politics.

“You and your partner could each have your own list of 15 guests you’d like at the wedding – then you review it,” she says. “Any duplications, you can take off, and then together decide who you’d like to make up the 30.”

You’ll no doubt be tempted to wait as long as possible before uninviting guests, in case restrictions change. But your guests will appreciate plenty of notice, says Constant. “Try to have the conversation in person or at least via a video or phone call,” she advises. “Avoid sending a text or message on social media as it’ll make it feel less personable.”

Highlight that it’s nothing personal, adds Constant, and stress that it was a hard decision to make – but with the government restrictions, you’re being put in a difficult situation.

By doing this, Hanson says you need to be prepared for a potential fallout: “You are going to annoy some of the de-invited guests and couples need to know that before any phone calls are made,” he says. But Constant is more optimistic: “If they truly care, they will fully understand.”

“If they truly care, they will fully understand.”

- Jennifer Claire Constant, founder of The Celebrant Directory

Remember, you can still make those who can’t attend in person feel part of your wedding by setting up a live streaming of the ceremony – or planning one hell of a party for everyone at a later date.

Facing this conundrum is far from ideal, but focussing on the benefits of a small wedding might take the sting out a little.

“There’s something rather magical about hosting a wedding on a smaller scale for couples who want to alleviate the anticipated stress of planning, dread the thought of trying to please everyone, or simply want a celebration that’s easier on the purse,” says Emma Hla, founder of Coco Wedding Venues.

“Smaller weddings are relaxed, deeply personal and offer you the opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones – something we all need right now.”