After Pandemic Delays, a New Dilemma: Disinviting Wedding Guests

Ms. Montufar worried that decision might upset their disinvited guests who saw photos of the reception on social media. “I felt so bad,” she said, “because obviously they saw one of my good friend’s little sisters there, and it’s like, ‘Oh, they invited the little sister but they didn’t invite me.’” No one has since expressed disappointment to the couple about their invitation being revoked, but Ms. Montufar still feels guilty about doing so, she added.

Because it can appear disingenuous, reinviting guests can be as much an etiquette minefield as disinviting them, said Tracy Taylor Ward, the owner of the event planning company Tracy Taylor Ward Design in New York. But these days, “Given the state of the world and ever-changing pandemic conditions, we encourage everyone — couples and their guests — to give each other grace and operate under the assumption that loved ones are acting with the best of intentions,” she added.

If reinviting a previously disinvited guest, couples should “be as honest as possible” while taking an informal approach, said Gayle Szuchman, the president of Events by Gayle in Norwalk, Conn. “Even consider adding some humor,” Ms. Szuchman added, “something like, ‘Let’s try this again,’ or ‘Please be our guest, again.’”

Still, hosts shouldn’t be surprised if reinvited guests turn them down.

Taylor Bowling and Lawrence Bowling, both 34, had also already mailed save the dates when they scrapped their original plan for a November 2020 wedding with 210 people in Charlottesville, Va. They ultimately decided to elope a month later, marrying at the French Huguenot Church in Charleston, S.C., on Dec. 22, 2020.

By then the Bowlings, who live in Mount Pleasant, S.C., had informed 100 people on their original guest list that they would be invited to a smaller celebration of the couple’s marriage in 2021. Their other 110 original guests were mailed notices that didn’t overtly disinvite them, but explained that the couple chose to have a more intimate event.

In reducing their guest list, Ms. Bowling, who runs the interior design business Home Taylored, and Mr. Bowling, a platform architect at the software company ServiceNow, considered friendships that had changed during the pandemic. “You definitely lose touch with people,” she said.