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. (Note: Questions may be edited for clarity and brevity.)

Question: I got married a few months ago and my cousin and her fiancé who live out of state didn’t come to the wedding. They responded ‘no’ to the R.S.V.P., sent a gift from the registry and then not long after, she sent me an email explaining it was ‘due to lack of budget.’ Now she and her fiancé are getting married and are inviting us to the wedding, which is taking place in their city. Frankly, we can afford the trip, but don’t want to attend, because they didn’t come to our wedding. My mom is saying that we’re in the wrong and should go. Do we have to attend an out-of-town wedding if the couple getting married skipped our wedding?

Answer: First, this may not be what you want to hear, but your cousin did everything right. She sent a timely R.S.V.P. with regrets and a gift, as well as a personal note explaining why she couldn’t join in the festivities. The explanation was in fact above the call of duty. It’s generally not expected to explain why you can’t attend a gathering. But clearly, she cares about you and wanted you to know that she had a good reason for missing it. For the record, lack of funds is a great reason. She also showed vulnerability in sharing with you that it was because of financial concerns, which also illustrates considerable responsibility and maturity on her part, given that she didn’t go into debt to attend the celebration. Second, if sometime well before or after the wedding you want to discuss hurt feelings with her (just not too close to the wedding because she will have a lot on her mind and might already be stressed out), it might be a good idea to clear the air. You are family after all. Just let her know — nondefensively — that you were looking forward to celebrating with her and were disappointed that she couldn’t be there for your Big Day. Be sure to mention that you appreciated her confiding in you about their financial struggles but that you still missed her. Offering some of your own vulnerability could go a long way in repairing the rift. Third, it’s always OK to decline an invitation. Which means she was well within her rights to say no to attending your wedding and you are well within your rights to decline to attend hers. That said, your mom might be onto something in her response. If you care about your cousin and your relationship with her, you may want to consider attending. At the very least, send your regrets, a gift and well wishes.

Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question?  Email melanie@myneworleans.com.


P.S. The New Orleans Bride magazine Winter Bridal Show is Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, at The Higgins Hotel on Magazine Street. Meet the top wedding professionals in the Greater New Orleans area, while sipping complimentary champagne and entering to win various door prizes. The show is 6 to 8 p.m. Brides get free admission and tickets for guests are $25 in advance. The Higgins Hotel is also offering Bridal Show attendees a special $99 room rate for the event. Stay at the hotel for one-night Jan. 5-6 or a two-night stay from Jan. 4-6. Reservations must be made by Dec. 28. Get additional show details and hotel information at brideneworleans.com.