Weddings, birthday parties, retirements, graduations, holidays and other special occasions should bring you joy, not dread. An annoying guest can threaten the enjoyment of an event by acting inappropriately or starting drama. If you are concerned about the behavior of annoying relatives, you may choose to disinvite them. Before you take back an invitation, carefully consider the ramifications of doing so. Then, have a sincere conversation with your relative. In addition, it may help to know how to manage common scenarios that may arise with annoying relatives.
EditChoosing a Course of Action
- Recognize that you may be labeled as the “bad guy.” If you are rescinding an invitation that you sent previously, understand that doing so may not win you any favors with the person or the other guests. Typically, it’s poor etiquette to withdraw an invitation after it has already gone out.
- The person will likely be offended by your decision. This may even jeopardize your relationship with them or others.
- Weigh the pros and cons. Since there may be some negative fallout from revoking an invitation from a family member, you should carefully consider your reasons for doing so. What has the person done to warrant no longer being invited?
- Did you have a disagreement with the person recently and are choosing to withdraw the invitation for emotional reasons? Has there been an incident that caused you to doubt their ability to behave appropriately?
- Make a list of pros and cons for not having this person in attendance. A pro might be “avoiding a scene after they have too much to drink.” A con might be “them causing a fuss if you take back the invite.” Review your list to help you decide if revoking the invitation is the best course of action.
- Ask for advice. Choosing to uninvite a relative is a difficult decision, one you shouldn’t take lightly. It may help to discuss the matter with a close friend or other relative whom you can trust. Reach out to this person and get their opinion.
- You might say, “I’m seriously considering uninviting Rachel from the barbecue. I heard about the fiasco she caused at the Andersons’ gathering the other week and I don’t want to have that kind of drama at my event. What do you think?”
- Decide if an alternative arrangement would work better. Before making the leap to fully uninviting the person, determine if there are other ways you can manage their behavior while still allowing them to attend.
- For instance, if your relative has trouble controlling their behavior when drinking, you might limit their access to alcohol or totally remove alcoholic beverages from the menu for all guests.
- If two relatives are at war with one another, you may be able to have both in attendance by separating them. Seat them far away from each other and assign a point-person to make sure contact is restricted.
- If you have a relative who tends to curse, tell inappropriate jokes, or start drama in some other way, decide if they might agree to modify their behavior for the event. For example, you might tell them, “Hi, Joel, I know you have a trouble reeling in that potty mouth, but there will be some conservative guests in attendance who aren’t comfortable with curse words. Can you be mindful of your language?”
EditBeing Upfront with Your Relative
- Have the conversation face-to-face, if possible. If you arrive at the conclusion that the only way forward is to disinvite the person, do so with tact. The most courteous method to do this would be in-person. Ask the individual to meet with you in private.
- You might invite them out for lunch or coffee and have a chat. Say, “Uncle Tom, how about you and I go out for coffee on Tuesday. I need to talk to you about something.” Choosing a public venue might decrease the odds of your relative becoming irate or making a scene.
- If your annoying relative lives out of town, arrange a time to talk with them on the telephone. Avoid disinviting guests through email or social media. Even if it’s hard, do your best to approach the issue in a mature way, which makes it more likely that you will be able to preserve your future relationship with this person.
- Be frank about your reasons. Prepare for the discussion beforehand. Review your pros and cons list. Develop a script to help you guide the conversation and rehearse it before the meeting. When you have the conversation, aim to be polite yet firm. Avoid vague language. Explain your rationale with brief and direct language.
- You might say, “I’m glad you chose to meet with me Uncle Tom. This is hard for me to do, but I know it’s the right decision. Since you and Dad are still on bad terms, I think it’s best if you don’t attend the wedding. My fiancee’ and I really want the event to be calm and low-key. And you two haven’t even been able to stay in a room together without arguing lately. I hope you understand.”
- Chances are, if this person has gotten into trouble for their behavior or have a history of inappropriate conduct, they will probably understand your decision.
- Don’t apologize. Saying “I’m sorry” sends the message that you’re wrong and makes it seem like you are taking ownership of their bad behavior. If you are uninviting a relative because of their behavior, don’t feel bad. You aren’t responsible for other adults’ behavior, but you are responsible for the satisfaction of your other guests at the event. If you’re worried that the person will ruin the affair, don’t blame yourself for disinviting them.
- Instead of saying “I’m sorry” say something along the lines of “I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” This demonstrates that your choice is made with good intentions while still showing that you stand behind your decision.
- Stay calm if their reaction is negative. There’s a possibility that your loved one will react negatively to this situation. Being uninvited can be humiliating to them, so try to be understanding. Don’t take anything they say personally. Simply stay calm and offer your support.
- You might say, “I can see that you’re upset. I didn’t intend to hurt you, but I believe this is the best choice.”
EditHandling Common Issues
- Explain that your guest list is limited. In some cases, a relative may have been unintentionally invited. Maybe you accidentally selected their name while setting up an event on Facebook. Or, maybe you talked about an event in their presence and they assumed they were invited. Whatever the case, you might be able to make up an excuse for having to disinvite them.
- Say, “Jessica, I clicked your name by accident when setting up the page for Samantha’s baby shower. It would have been nice for you to come, but we have to keep the guest list under 15 people. I’m sorry that this happened.”
- Apologize for someone who spoke on your behalf. If an invitation was extended without your permission, do apologize for the miscommunication. You might say, “Hey, Derrick. Ronnie told me that he mentioned the party to you last week. He shouldn’t have done that. Our guest list is very exclusive. I’m sorry for this mix up.”
- Even better, you might suggest that the person who made the mistake deal with the situation. Tell them, “I saw Regina the other day and she’s under the impression that she’s invited to the party. She tends to drink too much, and I’m worried that she will make a scene. Can you please uninvite her?”
- Be firm with those who invite themselves. Some family members automatically assume they are allowed at any event hosted by their relatives. Maybe they never got a formal invitation but have plans to attend. Let them down gently.
- For example, you overhear your cousin talking about what she will wear to your bridal shower. You might say, “Oh, Candice, I didn’t realize you were planning to come. The shower next weekend is going to be just for coworkers. But, I’d love to get together with you some other time, just the two of us.”
- Anticipate having other guests boycott the event. The worst outcome of disinviting one guest is to have other guests refuse to come out of solidarity. Depending on how important their presence is to you, you may try to convince them to come. However, don’t allow yourself to be coerced into having an annoying guest in attendance.
- Stand firm in your decision, even if it means a few people not agreeing with you.