Can I Un-invite the Friend I Invited by Text?


I really regret that I invited her at all

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

Q: We are getting married in two months! Our plan was: small, casual, good food, close friends/family, thoughtful, no BS. While we are still (mostly) getting what we want, our guest list has ballooned due to the usual reasons, mostly family politics. We now have a guest list of eighty up from our original thirty. We’ve made peace with this and are happy about how things are going… except for a long (intentionally) lost college friend of mine.

Sarah and I were very close; we went through some hellish breakups and hard knocks together. We alibied each other’s questionable dating and partying choices. Despite all the ill-advised things we did together, I probably wouldn’t have survived my early twenties without her. With that said, we did not have a very healthy friendship. By the time I was getting ready to move away after school, we were rarely speaking. My irritation with her revolved around her selfishness and endless need to prove she is more (fill-in-the-blank) then I am. Maybe, she too has a list of grievances, and our parting was mutual (but I suspect she just didn’t notice my absence). We basically faded into an occasional text, “We should hang! Miss you!” to the occasional social media ping. We truly have not spoken voice to voice since 2011. She has come to the city I live in multiple times and not told me she was here.

Back in our heyday, Sarah introduced me to Beth. Their friendship has also waned over the years, but they still occasionally see each other and keep in touch. Over the years though, Beth and I have become close. We moved to the same city straight out of college and have stayed in close contact ever since. So much so that Beth is singing at our wedding ceremony.

My MIL posted something wedding related on social media (Ugh. God bless her). Sarah texted me immediately asking what was up, if it was a small family affair, or should she save the date. I thought well, I can’t lie and say it is a small family affair, eventually she will find out that it was biggish, and Beth was there… and really, why not invite her? Our guest list is already way beyond what we pictured, so much time has passed, it will be good to see her! Weddings are meant to be reunions! So I told her we were really trying to keeping it small, but she was welcome to come if she wanted to (actual invites went out weeks ago). She said she would plan on it, and asked if she could bring Beth (she is unaware Beth is already invited and in the wedding). This made my blood boil. I realize this is irrational, Beth is coming. I want her there. But who does that?! And why does it make me so mad? Am I crazy?

Immediately, I regretted extending the invite. Not only because of this weird quasi inviting herself and a party buddy situation, but we were friends at the absolute worst time in my life. I’m not that person anymore, and I really don’t want to reminisce about that time in my life on my wedding day. What do I do? I am so irrationally upset about this. I feel like she is the straw that is going to break our wedding. We have bent on so many things for our family, but I do not want this event to be the Sarah Show. We’ve rented a house for a small group of close friends and us to hangout the whole weekend. There’s no bridal party, it is all going to be casual. Now with Beth and Sarah being reunited at the wedding, Sarah will automatically be included in all of these activities, she’ll end up staying with us, etc. As petty and paranoid as it sounds, I am afraid she is going to steal our weekend and make it all about her. I would be happy to go to dinner with her the next time she’s in town, but I don’t want to spend my entire wedding weekend with her. Am I being crazy? Do I just need to get over myself? How can I limit her effect on our weekend and my sanity?

—Anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

You know you’re stuck with her. You invited her. Text message or not, you can’t undo it.

But I promise it won’t be that bad.

I know, as soon as the words left your thumbs, she started being the same old Sarah you always knew. Right away, she made your generous offer all about herself, she took your inch and tried to tack on a mile. An otherwise minor misstep reminded you exactly why you don’t talk any more. But maybe that brief exchange wasn’t the foretelling of doom you imagine. Maybe (just maybe!) you’re jumping ahead of yourself here by assuming that she’ll manage to make your whole wedding day about herself (unlikely) or force her way into all your intimate get-togethers (more likely, but we’ll get to that).

For starters, it’s been actual years since you guys were close. You’re not even the same person any more! So, hey, maybe she isn’t, either. Maybe, instead of rudely tacking on a party bud, she was fondly remembering “the old crew” and thought you and Beth may like to see one another again. It’s still not great, I’ll admit (you told her it was a small wedding, dude), but there’s a chance she’s not being altogether terrible.

Now that you’ve made the mistake of inviting her to the wedding, just be sure not to do it again. No invites to the house you rented, to the bachelorette, to whatever else. Being included in the wedding doesn’t mean she automatically gets a pass into all of the cozier affairs, too. Don’t be guilted or prodded into this. She might pout or beg. But keep reminding yourself—she wasn’t invited to anything at all, and now she’s coming to the wedding. You’re already going out of your way to include her. You’re already extending the olive branch. So stop there and don’t overextend it.

Also, consider maybe mentioning all this to Beth. It depends on your dynamic, of course, but this isn’t about being cliquish. Beth is in the wedding, she’s included in all of the fun events around the wedding, but Sarah isn’t, and you don’t want her to feel left out or have her feelings hurt by being excluded. That’s pretty straightforward stuff. Let Beth know all of that, and ask her to be cool. It should be easy to avoid mentioning these fun times to Sarah.

You are sort of making this a bigger deal than it is, but I completely understand. Compromise fatigue! Wedding stress! Trust me, we’ve all been there. So take a deep breath. One more guest (even a really self-absorbed guest, even in an intimate wedding) is not going to make a huge impact on your wedding day. You won’t be thinking about the old days, and I would bet a lot of money that this won’t be the Sarah Show. Your wedding is about so much more, and one extra guest won’t change it (if you don’t let her).

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    Mmhmm. It sounds like Sarah is becoming the scapegoat for a lot of pent-up frustration resulting from the small, casual wedding getting totally out of hand. Maybe it was a little rude to ask whether she was invited, but even in doing so she gave LW an opportunity to say, “Naw, sorry, it’s a small thing, we’ll catch up another time tho.”

  • Mrrpaderp

    I have to say, I kind of feel for Sarah. (Should I duck and cover now?) I agree with @idkmybffjill that Sarah knows Beth is invited that that’s why she’s sniffing around. From Sarah’s perspective, her college BFF is getting married. Her other once-close friend, who she introduced to LW, is in the wedding. Yet Sarah didn’t get so much as an I’m engaged text. Maybe this is Sarah’s own doing for being so obnoxious, who knows, but I can understand her having some feelings here. No, she shouldn’t have invited herself. No, she shouldn’t have invited herself plus a guest. But I think anyone who has been in Sarah’s situation has felt at least a teeny tiny temptation to do what Sarah did, right? I’m not trying to make excuses for Sarah, but I’m not sure that her conduct has risen to the level of rudeness that justifies being treated poorly.

    • idkmybffjill

      That’s the thing though for me – I don’t fault her for hinting at being invited. But if I assume that she KNOWS for sure that Beth is, I think throwing her name out there is like, “I’m forcing you to tell me that you’re not as close friends with me as you are with Beth now”. Just my read :)…. I wouldn’t feel this way if she hadn’t thrown Beth out there, and if we didn’t know that Sarah & Beth do keep in occasional contact. I think Sarah is being shady!

  • ” I don’t see how that justifies being rude to Sarah” I would normally agree, but Sarah was already pretty rude to begin with. I mean, who texts and invites themselves to someone else;s wedding? And then asks to invite a plus one?! Holy rudeness.
    There’s nothing left to salvage here, this is obviously causing you anxiety. Oh honey, do yourself a favor, uninvite her, and be done with it. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

    Something similar happened to me. My wedding was small by all standards, and I had 50 close friends and family. I invited two friends that I had had a falling out with, but was trying to repair the relationship. They wanted to invite plus ones– people I didn’t know, to our small “close friends and family” wedding only. I said no. They chose not to come. And we’re not friends anymore. Oh well. No skin off my back. And I had a great time at my wedding.

    • Violet

      But isn’t there a thing about two wrongs not making a right? Just because Sarah was pushy doesn’t mean it gives carte blanche for LW to be rude back. She can say no respectfully, or say yes and deal with the consequences. I wouldn’t want someone else’s poor behavior to then dictate mine. I mean, everyone’s got their own ideas about how they want to be in the world, so not everyone needs to agree with this line I’m drawing, but I personally avoid being intentionally rude even if it means tougher conversations at times.

  • rg223

    I think (from the very limited info here) that Sarah pushes people’s boundaries and LW acquiesces to people, and that’s how the friendship has functioned. If that’s the case, I also don’t think Sarah is going to take well to not being allowed to stay at the B and B and not bring invited to other wedding events, and that’s another reason why I’m leaning towards uninviting. But that might not be the dynamic!

    • ART

      Yet those additional events present a perfect opportunity for the LW to practice saying no (should it come up – I tend to give Sarah a little more benefit of the doubt here but could be way wrong). “No, we’ve made specific plans for our accommodations, but there are other great options nearby, check out our wedding website for suggestions!”

    • idkmybffjill

      Yeah I totally get the same read (do you and I have our own Sarah’s? Ha!).

  • I don’t know, I don’t think it’s like, the end of the world if LW un-invites her, and I’m by no means an “etiquette above all else” type of person… But I don’t think the reason to be not-rude has anything to do with ruining friendships or even social fallout. I think the reason to be not-rude is because both our personal lives and the world are better when we arbitrarily treat everyone with similar baseline levels of respect, even people who kinda suck.

    • rg223

      Yeah, I agree with that overarching ideal, but I feel like I can’t apply it here without knowing the specifics of their friendship. I’ve had to be rude to end friendships with toxic people and boundry-pushers because it was the only way to fet out of the friendship. I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here by any means, but I want to allow for that possibility.

      • Yeah, I agree that sometimes you have to do whatever works to end toxic relationships! I guess for me it just sounded like their relationship was mostly over already & Sarah’s presence at her wedding is not as likely to cause problems as she thinks… So why not be polite? That said, you are right that this is just a snippet of their life, and again I don’t think it’s the end of the world if LW finds a way to un-invite her.

        • Laur

          But…it’s still super rude! Like, yeah the LW’s life won’t be messed up by uninviting Sarah. Because their friendship is in the past. But hopefully she still tries to live her life as a respectful person?

          • It’s tremendously rude & based on the letter as printed here I really really don’t think LW should un-invite her. I’m just agreeing that there are times when being rude is the least-bad out of a set of bad options.

  • Violet

    ‘Cause she missed the moment to say “no.” It was when Sarah invited herself! Saying “yes,” and then fumbling your way out of the consequences is actually prolonging practicing saying “no” when on the spot. Which I think is the hard bit.

    • rebecca

      Fumbling would be a bad idea, but I think the mature response here is “I’m very sorry. I realize I should have been direct when you asked me, but we do not have an invitation for you.”

      • Violet

        I honestly don’t hate that response. Probably wouldn’t do it myself, but if she’s going to back herself out, apologizing for her mishandling of her side of the interaction would be the way to go.

        • rg223

          Yeah, I think apologizing at the same time is key if she is going to do it.

      • Amy March

        But she didn’t just fail to say no clearly- she was direct and directly told Sarah she could come!

        • Violet

          I think if LW wants to own it, she can offer a real apology for what she did, which was invite Sarah without thinking it through. But my guess is if just saying “no” to a (possible) boundary-pusher is hard for LW, this kind of brutally honest apology and invitation redaction would be even harder. If she’s going to be rude and uninvite, it would require an apology that is sincere and true. I just doubt, practically speaking, LW is up for the task, because that is really hard to do.

  • Jess

    BRB, Filing this question away for when I need extra strength to say “HELL NO” to somebody asking me for something I don’t want to give.

  • ART

    My wedding had that person. My MIL (kindly, but also no-BS-ly) shut her in a bedroom to wait it out.

  • Jess

    I’m of the opinion that, no, they are not.

    Weddings are lovely times to invite people back into your life, if you’d like to regain contact with them going forward, but mostly they are to celebrate with the people who are important to you and your family now.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      That’s how I feel, too.

  • Celeste

    LW here! I was surprised when I got the message APW would be using my question. After I sent it in, I felt pretty silly. APW gives so much thoughtful advice about real, hard, and important dilemmas. This is pretty trivial, a little petty, and self-inflicted. After submitting it and being sure it would go unanswered, because it is ridiculous, I did what I should have done in the first place. I talked with my fiancé, and had a long chat with Beth. My fiancé told me exactly what Violet said in her initial comment below (spot on, Violet). Beth, who knows all angles of Sarah and my friendship, understood where I was coming from. I was surprised. She agreed that my concerns about Sarah were not only valid, but that she did not think it was a good idea for her to come. So….I did it. I uninvited her.

    I sent her a message that was really. hard. to write. I told her how truly sorry I was. That I’ve always assumed, someday, we would find a way back to being close…But, we intentionally only invited folks who are a part of both our lives now. I messed up for flinging the invite out there. I got excited in the moment, but after reflecting on it, I decided our reunion just could not be at this particular event. She said she was sad, but she understood. As rude with a capital R as I know this is, I am glad I did it. Having her come only to exclude her from every other part of the weekend seemed crueler to me. Given how casual it is going to be, and her and my dynamic, I couldn’t see how that would have been possible without it being overtly mean. “Sarah, it’s time for you to go, the campfire portion of the evening is not for you”. That just wasn’t going to work out for anyone.

    We’ve continued to message. I hope that sometime in the future we will reconnect, that she will forgive me for this, and we’ll discover we’ve both changed for the better. But if we don’t, that is ok too.

    • Violet

      Can I just say, I’m super impressed you rose to the challenge and addressed the situation as directly and honestly as possible? Major kudos.

      • Yeah, agreed. Definitely sucks, but I bet you are feeling a huge weight lifted after just being honest with her. And sure, uninviting someone to any kind of event is rude…but I also recognize that not everything is black and white. There were some underlying things for you, you felt uncomfortable and excited in the moment so you extended an invite, and you did what you felt was best for you + boo.

    • ART

      It sounds like you did the best you could given the specific circumstances, and you’re right – not inviting her to show up to a specific event is one thing, but expecting her to leave when a linger-around-the-fire type of “event” begins is unrealistic and you really could not say “time to go, lady.”

    • jem

      You are brave and I’m so proud of you ❤️

    • Jenna

      I tend to agree. It was rude to uninvite her, but the advice to let the invitation stand but then exclude her from everything Beth is included in would have been far worse (to the point that I’m surprised that that was the advice – it seems right taking the rudeness of uninviting someone, but in the end it’s actually more Mean Girl, not less). So you did what you had to do.

    • Shayne

      So glad to read this – after reading the response APW wrote I was pretty suprised to hear that you ‘were stuck with her.’ You should do what makes you comfortable and you did!!! Kudos bc THAT is healthy. What isn’t healthy is people-pleasing like suggested.

    • Amanda L

      I’m glad you did this! We’ve all been impulsive, especially around our weddings, and I don’t think you have to live and die by this casual invite, especially when she backed you in to a corner. Kudos for discussing with your FI and having the difficult conversation with her.

  • S

    As someone with anxiety who is also a people-pleaser, I think one thing that should be considered is just how tough it would be to receive that text. It’s a hard one to say no to. Sure, Sarah gave her an out (two actually, if you consider the medium of the text itself as out – it’s not face to face so you can ignore it) when she asked if it was going to be a small thing. But it makes sense if LW felt like she had to reply and was put in an awful position. A people pleaser who hates confrontation being asked, “Am I invited to your wedding” is like their worst nightmare if they’ve never had practice in their life turning people down and sticking to their guns. I can understand why LW panicked and did what she did in the moment. I just think it’s an important part of the “is it rude to uninvite” equation. Sure, it is rude, and she did the “wrong thing” in inviting Sarah, but I don’t think we can compare a thoughtfully considered guest list and sending formal invitations in the mail, to a panicked heat of the moment rock-and-a-hard-place text. I feel a lot of empathy for LW!

  • One of the like, 4 people in my (personal) universe who I have some genuine ill-will towards was a guest at my wedding. I’m pretty sure I didn’t interact with them once except maybe a “thanks for coming.” It’s honestly SO EASY to avoid people at your wedding because you always have an excuse to be doing something else.

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  • Jenna

    I would normally agree as well, but letting her come but excluding her from all of the other friend activities WILL be noticed and is definitely just as rude, if not more so in its cruelty (justified cruelty, but cruelty nonetheless). Between those two I actually think uninviting her is the less rude of the two choices.

  • Jenna

    Just a small point, she may not have known Sarah was in town until she was already there posting on social media or had even left. Hard to reach out if you didn’t know someone was going to be there in the first place. Maybe she could have reached out but chose not to, or maybe it was too late.

    I had a sort-of friend from one city (she was new, she made other friends and neglected the friendship with me – eh, whatevs, I’m a long termer and have my people so that sort of newer more casual friendship is no biggie to have or lose) with whom my friendship became a FB-only thing after she left. Then I was in another part of the country temporarily. She happened to come to a city very near me, but didn’t reach out. I didn’t find out until she was already there and checking in at a theater. I didn’t reach out because by then it was too late for me to make time.

    • Violet

      I was more reacting to all of the negative comments LW had about Sarah, and then saying she’d be “happy” to get dinner with her. It just felt like a stretch, like maybe LW wants to be more okay with Sarah than she really feels. Anyway, more about the emotional ambivalence than logistics.

  • Sarah

    I second this. My own father was taken to the ER by ambulance mid-reception for a heart condition, but I still consider my wedding a success. Yes, I of course was worried, but with a party that large (even though it’s a relatively small wedding) there was so much going on and I was being pulled in so many different directions.

  • Anna

    anyone who thinks of their early 20s and cringes (and I think thats a lot of people)… ya we ALL had a friend like that.

  • EllieS

    So, long story short: After a lot of debating and parental begging, I ended up having my currently using drug addict of a sister as a bridesmaid. I was really worried she would steal the show or cause a fuss, but it totally didn’t. She participated in the best way she could and everyone else at the wedding looked after me. She is one person and you have 79 other people there who just want this day to be about you and your husband. Depend on them to help you out and it (most likely) will be totally fine.

  • Alison Lysakowski

    You’re not stuck in anything. Be open with her, as painful as it sounds. Call her and explain why you invited her, that you are sorry for jumping before considering the situation enough, and why you have since changed your mind about inviting her. Chances are, she won’t want to come then, whether she is angry or understanding about it. Basically, don’t un-invite her right up front, but see how she reacts based on your feelings alone. If she tries to maintain her invite anyway, that’s when you have to say sorry again and tell her you don’t want that energy at your wedding, even if she thinks it will be just fine. The worst she can do is blast you on social media, which would be petty. Your real friends and family will be understanding, though they will agree that it was a mistake to invite her. Be strong and face the facts so you can have the wedding you want.