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When Is It Appropriate to RSVP "No" to a Wedding Invitation?

If you find yourself in one of these six situations, you can decline a wedding invitation without feeling guilty.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: The De Jaureguis

With jam-packed schedules and unwavering time constraints, people can't attend every event they get invited to. But when the event is a wedding, especially one of a friend or family member, you may feel guilty RSVPing "no." Here are six times when it's perfectly acceptable to decline a wedding invitation, plus tips on breaking the news to the bride and groom.

 

Related: A Guide for Guests: Which Wedding-Related Events Require Gifts?

 

Pregnancy

If you receive a wedding invitation while pregnant, feel free to attend the celebration as planned, unless the ceremony falls close to your due date. You'll prefer spending the last stretch of pregnancy relaxing on the couch, and you certainly don't want to miss the first precious days with your newborn. According Jesse Tombs, managing partner of Alison Events Planning + Design in California, women expecting intrusive pregnancy symptoms, like sore feet or nausea, can also RSVP "no."

 

Financial Reasons

"Attending a wedding is super expensive, since the price often includes flights, hotels, meals, and gifts," says Tombs. "There's no need to go into debt to attend a wedding." If you can't afford to be a guest right now, be honest with the bride and groom, and let them know you want to celebrate in some other way soon.

 

Lack of Vacation Time

Most people don't have unlimited vacation days, and this could prevent them from attending a wedding. "Maybe you already used up all of your vacation time and can't be out of the office any longer. This happens, and brides and grooms will understand," says Tombs. Similarly, you might be saving your vacation days for a pre-planned trip. All of these are acceptable excuses; the couple won't expect you to put your job on the line for their wedding.

 

Medical Issues

Whether you're suffering from a contagious infection, recovering from a broken leg, or forbidden to fly from a recent surgery, medical issues are always a valid excuse for not attending a wedding. Those invited to a tropical celebration should also be wary of the Zika virus. According to Tombs, "Zika is a risk in many of the places we work on a regular basis, and we always tell our clients that couples who are trying to have a child may opt out of attending. It's the risk you take to have your ceremony in a tropical island setting."

 

Pre-Existing Schedule Conflicts

No matter how early the couple sends their save-the-date, you still might encounter a scheduling conflict, such as a prepaid family vacation or important business trip. If you can't back out of the other commitment, RSVPing "no" may be the best solution.

 

You Barely Know Them

Say you receive a wedding invitation from someone you haven't texted, called, or seen in more than five years. Going to their wedding may be a great way to rekindle the relationship, but it may also be a time and money commitment you aren't willing to make. If you don't have interest in maintaining the long-lost friendship, it's perfectly acceptable to send your regrets.

 

How to RSVP "No"

Brides and grooms spend lots of time and money planning a wedding, so they'll naturally be upset if you can't attend. Nevertheless, it's important to respond with your RSVP as soon as possible so that they can give a headcount to the venue and caterer. Send your regrets as soon as possible and consider writing a heartfelt note explaining the situation as well. Once the wedding rolls around, remember to send a gift—or at least a card—congratulating the newlyweds. As long as you handle the situation properly, the bride and groom won't mind your absence!