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How Do I Un-Invite Racially Insensitive Guests To My Wedding?

They don't fully see my humanity

Q: Thank you for being a support in your posts the last few weeks. In a sea of tablescapes and bouquets last week I felt invisible and like I didn’t matter to this industry! I would love your practical wedding advice. The George Floyd uprising has very clearly shown me that some of my wedding guests are going to be on the wrong side of history and aren’t true allies who fully see my humanity. How do I approach uninviting (save the dates sent but no invites yet) toxic guests? I’m a black October 2020 bride in LA if that helps!

—Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

As a fellow Black woman, I want to start by giving you a big e-hug. The past few weeks have been extremely emotional for every Black person in America, and we’ve all cycled through a variety of emotions. George Floyd’s name has been added to a long list of Black people murdered by police, and people of all races have taken to the streets to demand justice and the end of systemic racism. Unfortunately, these events have also shown us who is ok with racism and bigotry, and we’ve getting them out the paint, as the kids would say.

You don’t mention in your letter the extent of your relationship with these individuals who you now want to un-invite from your wedding. Given your reasons for wanting to rescind your invitation, I wonder if you plan to keep these people in your life post-wedding as well? Are these college friends or former coworkers that you have some distance from, or are these relatives (either yours or in-laws) that you’ll still have to deal with long after your wedding? No matter which camp these former guests fall in, how you approach the conversation with them hinges on one essential question: do you want to maintain a relationship with this person moving forward?

If you aren’t interested in continuing any type of relationship or communication with the people in question, I would address both un-friending and un-inviting them in the same conversation. Express to them just how disappointed you are that they can’t see your humanity and understand why Black people are continuing to fight against systemic racism. Let them know that you don’t feel comfortable having them at your wedding or in your life moving forward. Normally I think a conversation like this should happen face to face or via phone, but for your own emotional safety, you might need to send an email or some other written form of communication, so that you’re able to express your feelings in a safe manner. Writing this out can also help you work through your feelings, especially if the people you’re uninviting used to be close to you in a past. Severing a relationship can be extremely difficult, especially in a situation like this.

Please also remember that you do not have to maintain a relationship if you don’t feel safe and supported, and that includes with family members. You don’t have to tolerate people in your life who don’t respect you as a Black woman. Yes, it could cause family disagreements, but that’s not your fault, it’s squarely the fault of the people who are, in your words, “on the wrong side of history”.

The easy way of dealing with these people would be to simply “forget” to send them a wedding invitation, which would certainly cut down on the number of uncomfortable conversations you’d have to have. But I think you have a duty to yourself to let each person know how you feel – that you feel they don’t respect and support you as a Black woman, that they aren’t an ally, and that you don’t want to share this special moment in your life with them, because of their actions/beliefs/statements. Many times, people make racist comments and are never called to the carpet for them – this is your opportunity to call out their bad behavior and let them know it won’t be tolerated.

However you choose to share this information, I hope that you take care of yourself and have the support you need from other family and friends.

—Jareesa

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