What To Think About Before Saying No To A Wedding Invitation

March 22, 2018  |  
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Sometimes you get a wedding invitation that you’re just completely torn on. Perhaps you weren’t even expecting to be invited to this person’s wedding, so you never thought about what you’d say if they invited you. But there it is, sitting on your kitchen counter. A gorgeous little invitation, perhaps with those little gate doors and a chiffon ribbon. Your name is on it. Maybe your significant other’s name is on it. You know the couple put a lot of thought into this guest list and when they were sitting up late at night, pouring over the list and debating whom to invite, you made the cut. You know it’s a big honor. But for a variety of reasons, you may not be able to attend, may not want to attend, or may not think it’s appropriate that you attend. That being said, turning down a wedding invitation is not a decision to be taken lightly. Here are things to think about before turning down a wedding invitation.

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How early did you receive the invitation?

For the record, if you only received your invitation a mere month before the wedding, then you should know that you were on the C list. You weren’t on the A list, and not even the B list, but the C list. Translation: they like you but you only made the cut after several people they like more said no. So don’t feel too bad for turning it down.

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Is it incredibly far?

Is it in Alaska, on some island you’d need to take two propeller planes to get to? Or somewhere in far east Asia? If it’s an extreme destination wedding, the couple actually probably expects a lot of people to say no, and the invitation is just a courtesy. This only applies, naturally, if you aren’t super close friends.

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Did they travel far for yours?

Now, if you’ve already been married, and the betrothed couple traveled very far for your destination wedding, that’s something to think about. If you can’t afford it you can’t afford it, but the mere inconvenience of it all isn’t a good enough excuse.

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Do you want them at yours?

Do you want these people at your wedding? If you didn’t even plan on inviting them, then you must not be that close. Furthermore, not going to theirs doesn’t risk that they won’t come to yours because you weren’t even going to invite them. Of course, if you’d be devastated if they weren’t at yours, you may just have to go to theirs.

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How big is the guest list?

It will tell you how cherished your presence is. If this is only a 100-person guest list (which is, believe it or not, very small for a wedding) then you must be a very special friend to these people, even if the feeling isn’t mutual. Of course, if they’re expecting 500 people, you’re just another butt in a seat and you can say no.

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How many other weddings this season?

Sometimes it just comes down to asking yourself how many other weddings you need to attend this season. If this is the only one, it can sit pretty high on your list. But if you’ve been invited to five, you probably have to stick to just the two or three of people you are truly, deeply close with. Telling this couple you can’t afford to attend all five weddings this summer will make sense to them.

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Do you hope to be friends in five years?

Look the reality is that if you don’t go to this couple’s wedding, you probably won’t be close in five years. You could remain pleasant acquaintances, but your decision not to attend their wedding will really dictate the trajectory of this friendship. How do you feel about not being close to this couple in five years?

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How long have you known each other?

If you’ve known the couple for under two years, it’s perfectly reasonable to say no. They can’t possibly feel that you’re such an important part of their lives that their wedding wouldn’t be the same without you.

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How often do you see each other?

Is this a friend you see once a month? Or more like twice a year? If it’s the latter then, at least you know you aren’t sacrificing a friendship that makes up a substantial part of your life by not attending the wedding.

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Does the bride/groom confide in you?

Whomever you know in the couple, does that person confide in you? Does this person speak to you like a personal friend? Or do they keep conversation topics light, pleasant, and rather neutral? If it’s the former, then this person probably would really value your presence at the wedding. If it’s the latter, you can probably say no.

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Do you confide in the bride/groom?

What about the other way around? Do you confide in the person you know in this couple? Do you consider this person a confidante? Someone you rely on when you need to talk out deep life issues? If he or she has been there for you through tough times, you should probably be at the wedding.

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Did they assume it was a long shot?

If for whatever reason—maybe the wedding is on a Wednesday, or it’s in a remote village where you’d have to camp in a tent to attend during the winter—you just know the couple figured it was a long shot anyone would attend, you can say no.

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Will you be sad to miss it?

Would you be sad to miss this wedding? Would you have a feeling, like a pit in your gut, that you did something you’ll always regret? What’s your knee-jerk reaction to that question? That’s your answer.

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Can you afford it?

If you can’t afford it you can’t afford it. Nobody should expect you to take out a loan or take the bus for three months just to afford to attend their wedding. If the money isn’t there, then it isn’t personal.

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Will it ruin the friendship?

At the end of the day it comes down to this: where is the friendship now, and where will it be if you say no? Are you okay with it going there? If you aren’t, then you have to go to the wedding (unless monetary issues are the problem). If you’re fine with the social repercussions, you can say no.

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