Each Wednesday, we tackle wedding etiquette. At times, it’s a reader question or one from a colleague, friend or family member and other times we’ll cover a popular issue. This week, we’re discussing a reader question about what to do when invited to the wedding of an old friend with whom you’ve lost touch or a not-so-close acquaintance.
Question: After not seeing or hearing from a high school friend for years, an invitation arrived in the mail. Having recently bought a home, a plane ticket to a destination wedding for a long lost friend isn’t in my budget. Do I have to go to the wedding?
Answer: A wedding invitation isn’t a summons from the court, so feel free to decline. As long as you aren’t a truly close friend or relative and your absence would breed hurt feelings and also provided regrets are sent with good intentions and happy hopes toward the couple, you are not obligated to attend. While the couple included you because one or both think highly of you and didn’t want to leave you out, it’s likely they will breathe a sigh of relief at one last mouth to feed during the reception.
Once you’ve considered the relationship and determined you’ve truly moved on and are no longer in one another’s lives, the easy solution is to send a lovely card with your regrets and a small, thoughtful, but budget conscious gift for the bride and groom. In your R.S.V.P., it’s not necessary to offer up a lengthy explanation or bring up your budget issue. A simple “I’m sorry I’ll have to miss the wedding,” or “I have a prior commitment that day,” or similar will do. This response also works for distant relatives, equally distant friends of the family, work acquaintances and really anyone with whom you don’t have a close relationship. Finally, be sure to include well wishes toward a wonderful day Big Day and a happy marriage.