9 Ways to Include Guests Who Can't Attend Your Wedding

Source: shutterstock.com/Robert Kneschke

In a perfect world, absolutely everyone you invited to your wedding would attend. Unfortunately, ours is not a perfect world (super inconvenient sometimes). You’ve planned everything to a T, got your vendors in order and even found those unique wedding bands you’ve always wanted. However, as anyone planning a wedding knows, you’ve got to be a bit flexible at times.

Whether your guests can’t travel safely, can’t take off work or just don’t want to spend those precious Delta miles to head to your wedding (though we’re sure it’s not that), you may have to get creative to include everyone. 

No fear though — if the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s how to get creative when necessary!


We get it. You’re sick of Zoom (who isn’t?). Sure, it’s convenient, but oh man, is face-to-face interaction nice. That being said, it’s still a really useful tool. If Zoom is a four-letter word to you, maybe go for FaceTime. Point being, the closest thing to being there in person is a video call of some sort. If you’re having the grandparents call in, prepare to do some troubleshooting. 


If you can’t swing individual phone calls (or you’ve just got too many tele-guests), livestreams are a really convenient broadcast tool. Honestly, having a recorded livestream of your wedding is great for its own sake! If you’re tech-savvy, awesome. If not, there are plenty of professionals out there who can get you high-quality video and audio for your wedding day stream.

If you’ve got older or more tech-challenged guests, send them a copy of your wedding video instead. If anyone refers to it as “The Google,” send them a DVD copy.

Recorded Messages

Whether your guests record a video (and inevitably do it vertically) or just have a handwritten note sent in, this is a perfect way for special friends and family to be included. Have them write or record a message of love and support to be played or read at the wedding reception.

You could also record a quick video sometime during the night if you have time. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just a video of you in your wedding attire saying hi and wishing them well is enough. Don’t forget to show off those rings! If it’s a prominent friend or family member, open the floor for your wedding party and other guests to record something for them as well!

Want to be sneaky and romantic? Have loved ones who can’t attend record messages and surprise your fiancé with them at the reception and you’ll look like a romantic super spy — if that’s your thing.

Send Them a Gift

“Uhhh, aren’t they supposed to be sending me gifts?” You have enough embroidered kitchen towels, Jared. You don’t need more stuff. No, but seriously. Send them a little gift basket. Maybe a mini champagne bottle, card and some snacks and favors. Whatever will be given out to guests at the wedding, send that (or something comparable) and make your guests smile from wherever they may be. 

Go See Them Later

Two years ago, this wasn’t an option, but now it’s definitely something that may be on the table for you! You don’t have to make a whole week out of it but spend an afternoon or a full day with loved ones and let them celebrate your union. As a bonus, they’ll likely buy you dinner — so there’s that.

Put Them There in Spirit

There’s been a lot of creative ways to help the “guests” attend the wedding anyway. Whether you put up pictures, have a “wish you were here” table with name plates or have cardboard cutouts, find a version of them that can attend! Make sure to take a picture and send it to them to show your guests they’re there in spirit!

a cozy modern style event venue

Source: shutterstock.com/AnnaGorbenko

Invite Them Anyway

Sometimes, it’s just nice to be invited. Yes, you know they can’t go, but give them an invitation anyway. It’s going to go on the fridge and it’s going to be nice. Alternatively, they’re going to think you forgot they can’t attend. It’s a nice gesture still.

Something Old

No, we’re not talking about your grandparents who couldn’t attend. That’s just mean. We’re talking about the first of the big four “somethings.” Integrate something from a loved one who can’t attend into the four somethings. Would something borrowed be better here? Maybe, but then we couldn’t make the joke about old grandparents. Whichever something you pick, asking a guest who can’t attend to give you that something is a sweet gesture.  

a party with dancing couples

Source: shutterstock.com

Play a Song

Whether it’s your first dance or just a song that plays during the course of the night, this is an awesome tribute. If your loved one has a special song that they would have requested had they been there, play that in their honor. 

Yes, it may be a bit of extra work to do these things. If it’s a loved family member or friend, though, it’s entirely worth it. If it’s not, well, that’s up to you. Regardless, anyone who knows they’re there in spirit will appreciate the kind gesture.

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