Just Say No: When (and How) to Put Your Foot Down

Planning a wedding involves heaps of work. You want to make sure everything is perfect, all while keeping a positive state of mind. After all, it’s your big day! So what to do when you’ve had enough and need to put your foot down? We’ve tapped three industry experts to tell you exactly how to handle sticky situations, such as saying no to uninvited guests, unsolicited advice, and more. 

bride and groom wedding photo
Photo Credit: A Perfect Impression

Saying "No" to Plus Ones

Allowing guests to bring a plus one will drastically increase your head count, as well adding a pretty penny to the cost of reception food and alcohol. This is where your invitation verbiage comes into play. “To avoid the conflict of an uninvited plus one, address both the outer and inner envelopes of the invitation with only the name of the individual invited,” says Matthew David Hopkins, Event Designer and Owner of Matthew David Celebrations in New York City. “If a guest is confused by this and asks the bride to include their date on the invite, kindly decline by saying, Wwe would love for all of our guests and their plus ones to celebrate with us, but unfortunately, that would put us at capacity at our venue in which we have set our hearts on.’”

“If it’s a single person who won't know anyone reassure them that you have sat them with the best of the best and you already intend to introduce them to someone at the wedding,” notes Roey Mizrahi, owner of Roey Mizrahi Events in New York City. 

Saying "No" to Kids 

A kid-free wedding policy can be tricky. For starters, it’s hard to convey the message via invite. “You'd think parents would want the night off, but such is not the case all the time,” says Mizrahi. “The subtle way to announce you are not inviting children is unfortunately typically ineffective. Place it on your wedding website and on the Invite or RSVP card or dedicate another card to that information.” 

What about that cute niece and nephew of yours in the bridal party? “Just because you might allow [them] to be involved in the ceremony and present for part of the reception in no way means it’s a free for all,” she relays. “Whether your wording is blunt and concise or elaborate and delicate it should get the point across.” 

If guests still don’t get it, politely bring up your venue and voice that it isn’t suited for kids. “We recommend saying that is not a kid-friendly venue or the timing of your evening is late so kids would not be comfortable with it being past bedtime, loud music, and there is not much to keep them occupied and entertained,” notes Susan Norcross, Wedding Director of Styled Bride in Philadelphia. If you’re adamant about the adults attending, give them information for babysitting at one of your suggested hotels or in the local area. 

Saying "No" to House Guests

While out-of-town guests should know better, don’t be surprised when some may ask to crash at your house while wedding festivities are taking place. But no matter how gracious you are, having friends and family staying with you has the potential for disaster (and extra added stress). “You can always blame it on the lack of room,” says Norcross. “With wedding gifts, your dress, things for the wedding taking up [your] entire spare bedroom, there is just no comfortable places for your guests to stay.” 

“If it helps soften the blow, you can offer some suggestions,” relays Mizrahi. “Tell them you found the greatest house on Airbnb or that there’s a great hotel they should consider. Remind them how comfortable they’ll be in their own space!”

Saying "No" to Unsolicited Wedding Advice

With wedding planning comes many different ideas and thoughts — including those from your nearest and dearest, which may not be in sync with your personal style and aesthetic. But how to shoot down your mother-in-law’s persistence on an idea you despise? “Remember, you are not bound to their input,” says Hopkins. “It is your special day, and while they may cause tensions to run high, their intentions are pure.” Nicely thank them for their input and let them know that you’ll take their ideas into consideration. 

“If someone is persistent and insistent on their idea being executed, perhaps because they are fronting money toward the affair and the polite agreeable brush-off approach wasn’t effective, a talk is necessary,” says Mizrahi. 

And better yet, let a professional handle it so you can remain neutral in the situation. “This is where a planner can help, as they can sometimes be a great buffer when you need to explain why something may not be the best idea,” relays Norcross. 

Saying "No" to the Dress You Don't Want

Finding the perfect dress is a big ordeal to begin with. While having support while dress shopping is key, sometimes, too many cooks in the kitchen (like your entire bridal party) can be overwhelming. This includes the oversharing of opinions and preconceived notions of what they think looks good on you.

“You’re not the only one who has envisioned this day,” says Mizrahi. “It’s possible your family and friends have a different vision for what they think you should look like on your wedding day. Be sure to only invite the people whose opinions truly matter to you. You also have to be comfortable making a choice people won’t agree with. In the end, they only want the best for you and you have to be confident enough to tell them what that is.”

If you feel too opinions pouring in, “remind them that the reason you selected them to participate in such a momentous occasion is because they are the most important people in your life and that you hoped they would support and celebrate you during this exciting time, not tear you down,” says Hopkins. This will nicely suggest that you care about them, but reiterate that it’s also your big day. 

Next: Saying "No" to Pushy Vendors, Unintended Guests, Social Media Coverage, and More ►