There’s nothing like the thrill of opening up a wedding invitation from the mail, penciling it into your calendar, and making arrangements for travel on the big day. But what if you don’t know the couple getting married that well or you haven’t seen or spoken to them in a long time? Or what if it wasn’t you that was actually invited, but your new boyfriend or girlfriend and they’ve asked you to come? Just because you receive an invitation in the mail for a wedding doesn’t mean that you have to accept.
Here are a few scenarios where it might be okay to politely decline an invitation and when to definitely not go to a wedding.
You Were Invited, But It’s Been Years Since You’ve Seen Them
As the years pass, it’s only natural that certain friendships will fade. It’s a sad fact of life that most of the friends you make when you’re young won’t remain close, and it’s likely you won’t talk to a lot of them except when you’re home for the holidays. But what happens when one of these friends invites you to their wedding? Do you go for old time’s sake?
The answer is of course that it depends. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s been more than a year since you’ve seen or talked to your friend, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to attend the wedding. This is especially true if you’ve never even met the person they’re marrying, and most of the wedding guests would be people you don’t know. Instead, send a gift and a thoughtful card saying how happy you are for them.
However, if you have remained in this person’s life enough to know when they started dating their future spouse, or you were close with their family growing up, it might be good to go. And who knows? Maybe you can reconnect your friendship. Weddings have a funny way of bringing people together.
You Were Invited, But the Wedding is Far Away
As you go along in life, you’ll probably meet friends from all over, or you’ll have friends who move away to a different city or state. When you have friends spread out geographically it can be challenging to keep up with them all and visit them on a semi-regular basis. So when one of your friends who lives far away gets engaged, does that mean you’re obligated to attend the wedding?
The answer again is that it depends. Is this a person you speak with regularly and a person you consider a best friend? Or is this a person you went to college with and occasionally see at a reunion or an alumni event? If the answer is the latter, then you might not be interested in spending a lot of money and taking PTO to go to their wedding, especially if it’s during a busy time of the year or you have a prior commitment. However, if it’s a close friend then you should definitely attend.
Your Partner Was on the Invitation but You Weren’t
There’s nothing quite like a new, budding romance. It’s especially exciting when your new partner wants to take you to a wedding as their date—you can just envision a night of dancing under the stars and meeting all of their friends. If you’re in a new relationship you can hardly expect the couple to put your name explicitly on the invitation, but what if it doesn’t even say “and Guest”?
The first thing to do is to check with your partner to make sure that it’s okay the he or she bring a date. If they are uncertain, ask them to check with the couple. If the couple says no, be understanding. Weddings are expensive. And while they may be happy that their friend has found a new romance, they might not have budgeted for an extra person.
If you’d like to go the extra mile, send a card congratulating the couple to send with your partner. You’ll score points with the couple and maybe the four of you can hang out once the wedding is over.
Whatever you do, don’t just assume that even though the invitation doesn’t say “Guest” that you can attend the wedding. You never know if the couple has a specific seating chart or if they didn’t plan for any extra guests. You definitely don’t want to start out on the wrong foot with your new partner’s friends or family.
A Friend/ Family Member/ Co-worker Tells You When their Wedding is, but Doesn’t Explicitly Invite You
With social media engagement announcements, it’s easy to be in the know when someone in your life gets engaged. However, just because someone you know gets engaged doesn’t mean that you will be invited to the wedding. They might want to have a small ceremony with just close friends and family, or maybe they are planning on going to the courthouse and doing a private ceremony.
Unless you are explicitly invited to the wedding, don’t just show up (even if you know exactly when and where the ceremony will be held). And whatever you do, don’t ask the bride or the groom if you’ll be invited. Until you get that invitation in the mail or the couple specifically tells you you’re invited, just assume that you aren’t.
Try not to take it personally if you weren’t invited and you thought you would be. There are tons of legitimate reasons why you might not be invited (perhaps they are a new friend, they are trying to stick to a budget, or they really are just trying to keep it small), and although your feelings may be hurt, resist the urge to confront them about it.