Wediquette Wednesday: How can we decline an invitation to a non-socially distanced wedding?


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: My husband and I were invited to a family wedding. This is normally something to which we would immediately and enthusiastically R.S.V.P. ‘yes,’ but with the pandemic, we are of course exercising considerable caution regarding gatherings of any kind. To date, we’ve politely declined anything that involves more than six people, or when we know the invitation comes from loved ones not following CDC guidelines. With restrictions loosening in Louisiana and finally here in Orleans Parish, we are open to larger, outdoor gatherings (within the state and city guidelines, naturally) if the proper precautions are being observed and enforced. The invitation doesn’t have anything on it about COVID, safety or precautions of any kind. The event is being held in a parish with looser restrictions than Orleans and in conversations with family members, we’ve been made aware that the couple, whom we dearly love, unfortunately does not follow the CDC recommended precautions in their personal lives. How can we decline an invitation to a non-socially distanced wedding?

Answer: Thank you for your question and candid explanation of the situation. It’s reasonable (and recommended) at a time like this to contact the couple and ask a few questions. Mention that due to the pandemic you’ve been following the CDC guidelines regarding gatherings and limiting your contact, so it would be helpful to know how many people are invited and what pandemic safety precautions will be in place during the wedding and reception. Keep it brief and non-judgmental. Once you have the information you need from the couple, make the best decision for you and your family. It’s possible that your questions will elicit action on the part of the couple to consider safety precautions, but that’s not your objective, you are simply looking for answers so you can make an informed decision. You may learn that they are taking every precaution, which would be great news indeed. Either way, if you decide not to attend, R.S.V.P. with regrets and send a gift along with a card wishing them happiness in their marriage.


Do you have a solution to share or a wedding etiquette question? Respond in the comments or email



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