This isn’t so much a rant about bad behavior as it is a series of questions. Background: I’m part of a pretty large group of friends. Recently, a couple in the group got engaged. I’m not particularly close to the couple so I wasn’t surprised to be left off the invite list. The problem is that they seem to have invited everyone else in the group and those friends seem to think I was invited as well. What this means is that at parties there’s a lot of talk about wedding planning and excitement about the wedding related activities; I don’t really know how to respond.

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Here are the questions: how do I contribute to these conversations (I know nothing about the actual plans so I would have to fake it)? What should I say if asked about travel arrangements or meeting up before wedding related events? Do I still have to buy the couple a wedding/engagement present? And finally, in the future, should I find myself the bride in this situation, how should I respond to a) people bringing up the wedding in front of uninvited individuals and b) questions about where the uninvited person is during engagement parties/bachelorette parties/etc? I would really appreciate your insight here. Thank you 0120-12

Your problem is that you cannot contribute to conversations about plans you are not a part of other than to offer advice on the best mode of transportation or wishing them a good time. You listen politely to your friends’ discussions as if they were talking about family vacation trips you are not going on. If asked about your plans to attend the wedding, simply say, “I am not attending the wedding.” If pressed further, you reply that, “I have other obligations that day.” Not every invited guest will be able to accept a wedding invitation and others are really not owed an explanation as to why you will not be in attendance at the wedding. The last thing you want to do is let on that you were not invited lest you plant speculatory thoughts into people’s minds about the bride or you.

No, you do not owe the bride and groom an engagement or wedding gift. A nice card would be appropriate though.

When you are the bride placed in the awkward situation of invited guests chatting up the wedding plans in front of non-guests, first, make sure you didn’t initiate the topic of discussion and, second, be vague and then beandins , “Plans are going along just fine. So, who do you think will win the Superbowl this year?”


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BintJanuary 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

I have to disagree with the Admin – I don’t understand why the OP cannot just say that s/he wasn’t invited. If people want to speculate about that, it’s up to them. There’s nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, someone recently sent me an email asking about how we were getting to a wedding, and I just wrote back saying we hadn’t been invited. This also avoids the awkwardness of others talking about it to the bride or groom later on, because they know you weren’t on the guest list. Bean dip all you like, it seems far easier to me to be upfront.

“The last thing you want to do is let on that you were not invited lest you plant speculatory thoughts into people’s minds about the bride or you.”

I cannot see why the OP should have to shoulder this responsibility, particularly when it could lead to far more embarrassing questions and assumptions for the couple later. The couple’s guest list was their choice. They have committed no faux pas – the OP admits s/he is not close to them. Playing semantics by claiming s/he has ‘other obligations that day’ is almost bound to backfire – it’s designed to make people think the OP was invited but couldn’t attend. As soon as it comes out the OP wasn’t invited – which it is bound to – people will assume the OP lied and wonder why. That’ll cause far more speculation than the simple ‘I wasn’t on the guest list’, said without any rancour, and make everyone think the OP really, really minded.

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Just LauraJanuary 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

I agree with Bint. There’s nothing of which one should be ashamed by not inviting or not being invited.Being new to the area and invited to a wedding of my husband’s friends, I just assumed that my husband’s friends were all friends with each other (they are certainly all nice people). I asked one of these friends what hotel she would be booking for an upcoming wedding of Other Friends. She replied that she wasn’t invited, explaining that she didn’t know the bride well. I apologized for the assumption, and we talked of other things. To my knowledge, there were no hard feelings from anyone, and we all still enjoy seeing each other. There’s nothing awkward about it.

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ASJanuary 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

I totally agree with Bint. I don’t see why the OP just shouldn’t say that he/she was not invited. It is the couple’s choice whom they want to invite. The OP seems to be matured enough to understand that, and also said that she/he is not particularly close to the couple. That is all that matters. People who’d speculate the dynamics of relations between HC and OP would do so irrespective of what the OP says. So, IMHO, it is better to be honest about the lack of invitation.

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clairedeluneMarch 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Completely agree with you, Bint. I have no idea why she should be coy about not being invited, as if it were some source of everlasting shame, or what “speculatory thoughts” this could lead to. That seems like a classic example of over thinking.

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I belong to a group of friends who regularly make plans with each other to which my husband and I have not been invited and know nothing about. Vacation plans, party plans, dinner plans, graduation parties, birthday parties, barbeques and so on . . . you name it – they socialize regularly and often. When we do get together with them they talk about the plans and sometimes what happened at the said event. I never comment on the plans or the events but simply listen politely. I am not in a position to discuss any of it – I’m not part of the event that will happen or did happen and I’m not upset we were excluded and not sorry I wasn’t invited, I have no wish to either continue the discussion or prevent it from happening. Saying nothing is the best option.

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Why should the onus be on the uninvited to lie about having other obligations? What happened to honesty is the best policy? Would simply and honestly answering, “We weren’t invited, but we’re sure you’ll have a great time,” not be acceptable? I’m sorry, but “planting speculatory thoughts into people’s minds about the bride or you” is out of anyone’s control but the person doing the speculating. If one were to worry about such things, one could simply not leave one’s house for fear of planting such thoughts by the mere fact of one’s existence! I normally agree with Dame, but this time, I must side with clarity and honesty vs. appearances.

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Sorry, I would say directly (and only if asked) “I wasn’t invited.” Why say you are not attending? That implies to most people that you have made a choice not to attend; they will then press for explanations, extending the conversation and potential awkwardness.

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Every friend in that group was invited, every single other one? If you’re absolutely sure that everyone else in that group was invited – perhaps your invitation was misplaced, or lost in the mail. That would be awful if it was. I think I would still do exactly as the Etiquette Maven has suggested, but perhaps you’ll get a call soon asking where your RSVP is…

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But the OP said there was no surprise in not being invited. The OP also doesn’t seem to be put off by the fact that they weren’t invited, only confused about how to handle the conversations.

I also agree with others that stating you have other obligations is the wrong way to go, specifically because there is the potential to be caught in a “lie” later. If – for the sake of conversation JillyBean is right, and if one of the group happens to comment to the bride and groom that the OP said they weren’t invited and that wasn’t true, then the problem gets solved. If it turns out that the OP really isn’t invited, I don’t think there is any harm in saying so – in either direction.

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I would be uncomfortable saying I was unable to attend a wedding to which I was not invited. If I were asked, I would feel better simply saying that I was not invited and make some comment about being a mere acquaintance. Saying that I was unable to attend might lead to questions about why I could not go, what I was doing, etc. Bean dipping does not work with everyone.

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I’m with Bint and CaffeienKatie. No reason to skip around the truth. “I wasn’t invited” is the best answer.

People who can’t make it to a wedding they were invited to usually want to hear all about it. Making others think you were invited but can’t make it due to “other obligations” won’t deter people from talking about the wedding in depth. The OP may indeed want to hear more, but the person discussing it may feel terrible about gushing on and on about the wedding if they later find out about the OP’s lack of invite (especially if they bring up OP’s absence to the bride or groom).

Telling the truth won’t give anyone who really knows anything about weddings “speculatory thoughts” about you or the bride. Weddings involve a lot of difficult guest cutting for various reasons.

I recently attended a party with a group of friends I usually only see once or twice a year at holidays. After hearing some odd conversation, I realized I was the only person at the party who hadn’t been invited to a group member’s wedding the night before. I hadn’t known anything about the wedding until the day after, but I still felt uncomfortable with everyone discussing what fun they had. When my circle would begin talking about it, I didn’t feel guilty changing the subject.

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I don’t understand why Admin feels the poster should, basically, lie about being invited to the wedding (when you claim you didn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, you are telling a lie). Little white lies are told to spare feelings, but no one’s feelings are at stake here. Surely it’ s not rude to simply say “I wasn’t invited?”

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I’m not sure that the polite lie the Admin is suggesting is the best option. I would not be comfortable lying to my friends about my invitation, nor would I want to sit through a lot of discussion about an event to which I was not invited. As a friend who was invited, I would be mortified if I were talking about an event in front of someone who was excluded from it. Finally and frankly, I don’t see why it’s the OP’s job to cover the fact that she was the sole person excluded from such an important event.

If it were me, I’d say, “I’m not attending as I was not invited.” Simple and truthful. Also has the collateral advantage — if one’s friends are polite — to stop the discussion about the event in front of me.

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I’m with CaffeienKatie. If asked directly, I’d simply say I wasn’t invited. Then, I’d change the subject. Believe me, there’ll be others who are thanking you profusely for changing the subject.

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I think mentioning you weren’t invited is the right way to go too. It may cause some awkwardness and gossip, but telling them you aren’t going and have other plans may make them think things and gossip too. If these were people I saw on rare occasions, I might not mention it, but it sounds like they get together with some frequency and this comes up. It’s not fair to the OP to have to suffer in silence and stretch the truth to spare others’ feelings.

And as JillyBean mentioned, maybe they were invited and it got lost in the mail. Telling the truth would maybe help remedy that. If the OP wasn’t invited, I do think it’s a bit rude to exclude one person in a group of friends from the wedding. It’s their choice who they ask, I understand, but still a little off-putting.

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I’ve been in a similar position, as the OP and it can be excruciating. The admin’s suggestion is ok, but I would caution against using it in this case as I could envisage it backfiring in the sense that it gives the impression that the OP was invited.

Chances are that in a big group of friends, some of them will be discussing the wedding and their plans with the bridal couple before the wedding and most certainly after the wedding. All that’s needed is one comment like “It’s such a shame that OP couldn’t make it to the wedding” to be made, which the couple could respond “”Why should (s)he, (s)he wasn’t invited?”. It could look presumptuous or even suspect and would to cause the gossip that the admin wants to avoid.

If you’re asked a direct question then say “I wasn’t actually invited”, otherwise I’d recommend smiling, nodding and staying out of the conversation. As JillyBean suggested, perhaps you are meant to be there but your invitation got waylaid. I don’t know if you have the tradition of “afters” where you’re from (basically the B-list guests who come to the reception later in the even for the drinking and dancing element. This is normally where more distant friends, neighbours, workmates or friends of the bridal party are invited to. It’s very clearly listed on the invite however), but perhaps you may be invited to that, but the invites haven’t gone out yet?

As for the present – as there is technically no obligation to give a gift even if you were invited, then you definitely don’t HAVE to give one. But I agree that a card at least, or even a nice little gift, an inexpensive pair of candlesticks or quality candle or similar would be a nice gesture for a friend.

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I agree with those who think the OP shouldn’t lie. If asked whether s/he is going, s/he should just tell truth (“I wasn’t invited.”). If OP lies and the lie gets back to the bride and groom, and can cause an uncomfortable situation and leave wrong impressions.

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I’ve been in this situation. When the conversation turned into a direct question such as “What are you wearing to the wedding?” or “Do you want to ride with us?” I just replied that I hadn’t been invited. Nice and simple, no editorial comments, just the truth. After the wedding, when people said things such as “Remember how hot it was in the church?” and when the groom asked me whether I remembered such and such during the ceremony, I simply said “I wasn’t there.”

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I agree with some of the previous comments – I would simply say I wasn’t invited. It doesn’t have to be done in a snarky or rude tone – just a simple, “oh, I wasn’t invited, but I totally understand she couldn’t invite everyone!”

I agree with CaffeienKatie – saying “I’m not attending,” makes it look like the OP is making a choice to not attend. The inevitable response will be “why?”

I also agree with JillyBean. If every other person (and I mean every single one) received an invite – it does seem a bit odd that the OP was left out.

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Like others, I think honesty is in order here with a simple “I wasn’t invited”. Lying seems so dramatic – like one is trying to be mysterious and coy, or uppity or whatever. Its better to tell friends an uncomfortable truth over an easily exposed lie.

As for the OP’s questions – I think if its a general conversation among friends you can listen quietly, excuse yourself or change topics. If you are asked a direct question, such as about transportation or side parties, tell the truth about not being invited – keep it simple, neutral in tone and have a follow up question, topic, or comment to make to keep the conversation from being awkward. As for an engagement present, that’s not necessary even if you were invited, but a card for the wedding itself would be a nice, although unnecessary gesture.

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Agree with Wren and Jane–it has to be said without bitterness. “Oh, I wasn’t invited. Did you see Project Runway last night?”

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I’m going to have to agree with most everyone else and disagree with Admin here. There is no shame in not being invited, and it’s silly to lie ‘socially’ over something like this. To lie about it gives the situation more power and importance than it warrants.

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That being said, it’s still no picnic to be the only person not invited. This happened once to me, and I only found out I was the only one not invited while in the carpool to the shower with the rest of the bride’s school friends. Oops. (I was young, I didn’t know I should have declined, and since the wedding was out of state, I assumed none of us were invited. Cue awkward for the next four hours where I was the ONLY person at a 60+ party who was not invited to the wedding).

The problem was, even though I was honest and upfront (by accident), it didn’t deter this group, who was actively lobbying for me to be invited so I could share gas and hotel costs. Had I told them I had ‘other plans’ I would no doubt be interrogated on that until they could convince me to give in. So, though it was painful and embarassing, it was much easier to be honest and not have to keep remembering a lie since I was interrogated by no less than a dozen people I did know and at least half a dozen more I had never seen before in my life about ‘oh, isn’t Bride’s wedding going to be nice?’ ‘where are you staying for Bride’s wedding?’ ‘when are you leaving for Bride’s wedding?’ ‘who are you driving up with for Bride’s wedding?’ ‘what did you get Bride for the shower/wedding?’ ‘did you get Bride something else for the wedding?’ ‘what are you going to wear for Bride’s wedding?’ and my personal favorite ‘well, why don’t you just ASK Bride to invite you?’

While that bridal shower is certainly not on the top ten of my great life experiences, I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I were trying to pretend that I had something else to do during Bride’s wedding and convincing people I couldn’t just ‘change the plans’ I didn’t have. I’m can’t lie that well.

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I disagree with he Admin- I would say simply, with a smile, “I wasn’t invited. Hope you have fun though! ” Misleading the conversation my cause confusion or an awkward moment later. After all, everyone understands that you often need to pick and choose your guest list for a wedding, based on many different factors. Not being invited is not a poor reflection on either yourself or the bridal couple