Tactful Ways (and Reasons) to Decline a Wedding Invitation

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Updated on Friday, August 21, 2015

Tactful Ways (and Reasons) to Decline a Wedding Invitation

The only two certainties in life may be death and taxes, but the frustration of wedding season is a close third. A wedding can be a joyous occasion, but when you’ve been invited to your fifth one in a single season, the stress of affording to attend while managing your monthly bills can become overwhelming. This is one of the many reasons it’s okay to decline a wedding invitation, if you do it with class.

Appropriate Reasons to Decline a Wedding Invitation

The cost is a perfectly reasonable reason to decline a wedding invitation. Gone are the days when people stayed in the same town their whole lives and you just needed to drive to the local church to watch all your friends get married. It’s quite possible you’ll be traveling for 90 percent of the weddings you get invited to and those flights and road trips add up. Not to mention the hike in destination weddings. If your budget (or savings account) won’t accommodate a wedding – it may be appropriate to decline if you aren’t in the immediate family. A friend’s wedding or cousin’s wedding in the Bahamas isn’t a must-do if it means you can’t pay your student loan bills or won’t make rent.

Financial restrictions aren’t the only acceptable reason to decline a wedding invitation. Life gets busy, your social calendar fills up and you might even experience conflicting wedding dates.

You are also free to decline any wedding invitation from an ex-partner without remorse. Or if you haven’t seen the friend (or relative) in years and really only communicate through the occasional holiday card or Facebook message. You probably won’t really be missed at the reception.

The Emily Post Guide to Sending Your Regrets

Opting out of a wedding is a delicate process. There is a high risk of damaging a relationship if you aren’t tactful in your approach.

Be respectful: Ensure that you adhere to the RSVP request on the invitation. Send in your regrets by the requested time. Depending on your relationship with the bride or groom, you may want to include a reason for your decline.

Decline early: Many guest lists have an A-team and a B-team. The A-team gets the first round of invites and then based off the number of declines, the bride and groom may elect to pull some potential guests off the B-team. By sending in your regrets early, you might be opening up an opportunity for the bride and groom to invite someone else without short notice.

Don’t gossip about the reason: Regardless of your reason for passing on a wedding, don’t spread it around with other invited guests. It will undoubtedly get back to the bride and groom about the real reason you aren’t attending.

What’s Still Expected of You

Unfortunately, sending your regrets doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for sending in a present. There is some debate about wedding etiquette, but the traditional (Emily Post) rule is to send a present whether or not you’re attending.

With the current use of online registries, it’s incredibly easy to scroll through, select an affordable present, look for some coupons and send the couple a nice pie dish without breaking the bank.

Receiving a wedding announcement after the ceremony occurred does not require you to send a present. This is specific to invited guests who send their regrets. Plus, sending a present can ease the blow of not attending.