Wedding reception under the tipi with guests and decor

How To Elegantly Handle No Show Wedding Guests

A few disgruntled newlyweds have been making waves recently by sending invoices and bills to no-show wedding guests. While we do not recommend taking this kind of action, we can understand the frustration and disappointment felt by the jilted couples.

No show guests are becoming more common and couples are sharing their experiences on social media, calling out guests who have left them out of pocket. While this is a rare occurrence, it is still a possibility at any wedding. So, how can you prevent it from happening and what should you do if it does?

Who are NO SHOW wedding guests?

Wedding no shows are guests who have rsvp’d yes for your big day. They have every intent of joining your celebration, but for some reason, at the last minute, they cannot attend. While many guests do their best to inform the couple of their absence, there are instances when they don’t show, without warning.

There are many reasons why a guest may need to pull out at the last minute. Family or health emergencies (hello, Covid!), severe weather (hello, floods and fire!), traffic, or travel issues. These problems can be unavoidable and lead to last minute cancellations without warning.

Wedding reception table scape from the couple POV

Prepare and Prevent Wedding No Shows

Choose your wedding type

Weddings with the most no shows include –

  • Weekday weddings – many guests are unable to take time off work or away from family commitments.
  • Weddings at peak times – events can overlap, with many guests finding themselves double booked.
  • Destination weddings – Guests can run into difficulties getting themselves to a destination wedding.
  • Winter weddings – Colder weather means more chance of guests falling ill.

Engage an Emergency Contact

Your emergency contact leading up to your wedding and on the day shouldn’t be you or your partner. This is your day to enjoy without stress or responsibility. Delegation is key to a successful and enjoyable wedding for your and your partner.

Enlist a groomsmen, bridesmaid, or trusted family member to be the point of contact for any issues or emergencies, including guests who need to pull out at the last minute. If you have a wedding planner who is present on your big day, this is the ideal job for them. For more stress saving tips, check out our expert advice on how to manage pre-wedding stress.


Just as you would send out a Save the Date notice, a reminder sent to guests a week or two out, is a great way to keep on top of potential no-shows. Many people simply forget that they have a wedding to attend, so a reminder is great way to manage their calendar and keep you front of mind. Limit your chances of no show wedding guests simply forgetting about your special day.

Quality over quantity

Before you think of adding to the guest list to make allowance for possible no shows, stop. Keeping your guest list full of quality guests will help prevent no shows. Inviting people who you have regular contact with, even if it is only via social media, will ensure your big day is at the forefront of their minds.

They will know how much time, effort, and expense has gone into your big day and if the unforeseeable happens, they will help to manage their absence in an understanding way. This could mean they contribute financially to account for you having to pay for their uneaten meal, or they might organise to catch up with you at a later date to celebrate your marriage.

How to handle no show wedding guests

Delicately and with diplomacy. Give your no show guests the opportunity to contact you to explain their absence. Allow a week for them to get in touch and listen to their reasons before responding. If they have messaged or emailed you, take time to respond. Depending on the excuse, your initial reaction might be laced with anger or disappointment. If you wish to express these emotions, do so in a diplomatic and understanding way. You’re welcome to feel disappointment, but try not to jeopardise relationships. Empathy is key in this situation, so consider getting a level headed friend or family member to assist with your response.

Do not, under any circumstances, ask for money. A wedding isn’t a financial transaction, it’s a celebration that you choose to have. The best way to come out of it free of financial stress, is to allow for no shows in your budget. There is a very high chance all your guests will show up and celebrate with you, with minimal risk of no shows.