Opting Out of Pre-Wedding Events

Waiter setting up a fancy table for an event

Weddings—and the lead-up to the big day—are a big time commitment for everyone involved. If you are in a wedding or have a close family member or friend getting married, there is a certain expectation that you’ll not only be able to make it to the wedding, but that you’ll also be there for events like the engagement party, dress fittings, the wedding shower, the bachelorette/bachelor party, and the rehearsal dinner.

Everyone has a busy schedule, and whether we like it or not sometimes we just can’t make every single wedding event. Here are a few legitimate excuses to miss a pre-wedding event and how to break it to the couple that you won’t be attending.

Luggage at the airport

You Live Far Away and Are Only Attending the Wedding

Purchasing a plane ticket for the wedding is already an expense, but adding in a wedding shower or a bachelorette party may make your bank account suffer a great deal. Living far away from the couple is hands-down the most legitimate reason to skip out on pre-wedding events.

Of course if you feel so inclined and you have the money, feel free to attend as much as you want and can. But for most of us just attending the wedding is more than enough for our wallets.

You Have a Job that Requires You Work Weekends

Not everyone has the luxury of having a basic 9-5 job with weekends off. Whether you’re a nurse, a retail worker, or you just have a job with a really unpredictable schedule, you may not be able to attend many pre-wedding events. Although you may be able to take off work and get your schedule rearranged, don’t feel like you have to use up all of your PTO for pre-wedding events (especially if you aren’t even a member of the wedding party).

Do what you feel like you can and the couple will hopefully be understanding. The most important date you need to be available is the actual wedding date, and the wedding rehearsal if that’s something you need to be involved in.

Jar full of coins with budget written on post-it note

You Can’t Afford It

This mostly applies to the bachelor/bachelorette party (as many of them now are requiring expensive travel and hotel stays), but it’s perfectly okay to opt out of a pre-wedding event if you just simply don’t have enough cash to cover it.

It may be embarrassing to let the bride or groom know that you’ll have to miss out on a fun time because of your lack of funds, but trust us—it’s much better than just going anyway and racking up credit card debt. If they’re a true friend then they’ll understand that you just can’t fit it in the budget.

Something Unexpected Came Up Last Minute

Sometimes things just happen that are out of your control. Maybe you got sick, or your baby got sick, or maybe you had to go on a last-minute business trip—whatever the reason, you can’t exactly predict when things don’t go according to plan.

Unless you are planning the event for the couple or you are a close family member (we’re talking sister, brother, or parent), then your lack of presence shouldn’t be the end of the world. Again, do what you can do and try to make it work if possible. If for whatever reason you can’t make it work, you’ll be at the most important event: the wedding.

Woman telling her friend bad news

How to Inform the Couple You Won’t be Attending an Event

It’s never easy to break bad news, but informing the couple that you won’t be able to attend a pre-wedding event is something that needs to happen as soon as possible. The couple will need to know that you won’t be showing up because they’ll need to adjust any reservations at restaurants, hotels, or the amount of food to buy before one of their wedding events.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute to tell the couple you won’t be attending one of their pre-wedding events. Of course, things may pop up and you may not be able to tell them until the day of the event, but typically you should know with enough notice to tell them in advance.

If possible, tell the couple (or the person individually) that you won’t be attending in person. Invite them out for a coffee or a drink and explain to them that you won’t be able to attend because of X, Y, Z and you hope they understand. The second best option is to give them a phone call and explain why you won’t be able to show up over a nice, long chat. The last option (and we strongly urge you to try the first two if at all possible) is to send them a nicely worded email about why you can’t attend a wedding event. A text message or Facebook message seems really insincere and should be avoided at all costs.

Obviously you can never control someone else’s reaction to bad news, but if you sense any anger or resentment over your lack of attendance be sure to address it right away. You don’t want anything to fester into their celebration. As long as you have a legitimate reason to miss something and you tell them with care and with enough time in advance, they shouldn’t have any reason to be upset.

If they are upset with you, just lay low for a bit until things blow over. Most likely they won’t be angry, but couples planning a wedding are generally quick to forgive once the next wedding crisis pops up.

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