How to Celebrate Your Wedding When Guests Can’t Attend

Usually, narrowing down the guest list is one of the challenges of wedding planning. But in some circumstances, like when someone can’t travel to a destination wedding or the extraordinary times we find ourselves in at the moment thanks to COVID-19, couples face the opposite problem, with not all guests being able to be there. Even once larger gatherings are allowed, older or vulnerable guests (or those subject to travel restrictions) may have to decline. It can be difficult to imagine celebrating this milestone moment without everyone you love present. My heart truly goes out to you! But know that you can still have an incredible wedding day and that there are steps you can take to include those who can’t make it in person. Here are some ideas for celebrating your wedding when some of your VIP guests can’t attend, regardless of the reason!

Postponing the reception. One option for couples in this situation is to have a smaller ceremony and then a large celebration later on. I’m seeing quite a few couples talk about ‘mini-monies’ and ‘sequel weddings’ at the moment. Others are planning a destination wedding or elopement with just the two of them first or scaling back the guestlist for a micro wedding with the promise of a larger reception later on. In some states, you can even marry yourselves without a witness. You can then schedule the party when you’re ready in the location that makes the most sense to you. And you can still wear your wedding dress if you want to!

Use technology. It’s amazing how technology has allowed us to bridge the gap during social distancing, isn’t it? You can harness the same tech to bring loved ones into your wedding day even when they can’t attend. Set up a couple of tripods and have a live stream of the ceremony, so they can view the event in real-time. There are also companies who specialize in performing this service for you. Another idea is to designate a hashtag on Instagram so those at home can follow along remotely throughout the day, or have a social media savvy friend live tweeting.

Make the most of your wedding video. While not as immediate, your wedding video can also make those who can’t be there feel like part of the action. Send them a copy if they live far away from you. And if they don’t, make a date for a viewing party. Just be sure to book this service before the big day! You don’t want to regret not having a video later on.

Give them a call. Perhaps you have older relatives who can’t make your wedding and won’t be able to see it online. Take some time out of the day to give them a quick phone call (perhaps while you’re getting ready or first thing in the morning). It will give them a chance to shower you with love over the phone, and they’ll know you were thinking of them.

Send them a favor or slice of cake. Another way to make your loved ones feel included is to give them something from the day. Keep a favor for them or save and freeze a slice of cake to enjoy. And don’t forget to send them an invitation, even if you already know they won’t be there! It’s a little token that can really mean a lot.

Although finding out some guests can’t attend your wedding can be heartbreaking, remember that the most important thing is that you’re marrying your sweetheart. As long as you have each other, your wedding day will be amazing!


Image by Carrie King Photographer