Working the Wedding Circuit

Over the weekend, Matt and I celebrated the first of seven weddings we’re attending between now and November. We are on the wedding circuit, and I anticipate the world tour will continue for at least another year as the people closest to us keep coupling off for as long as they both shall live.

Wedding talk has proven a controversial topic on this blog: My post about gift-giving etiquette inspired one of the most heated debates this MWF has ever seen. The act of choosing bridesmaids and dealing with bridezillas/angry attendants always gets people riled up. Nuptials are just a loaded topic, likely because so much weight is given to this one day and there’s some serious expense involved (for both the hosts and the guests).

This year I’m planning to attend every wedding I was invited to, except for one. And that’s because I have another wedding—across the country—on the same day. I adore all the brides/grooms in question, and wouldn’t consider not going.

But recently a pal and I were discussing the etiquette of wedding attendance—namely, when is it ok to just say no?—and I thought I’d bring the question to the people.

Obviously, weddings can be costly. Our weddings are all over the country so the expenses include flights, hotel rooms, and rented cars on top of the usual wedding gift, shower gift, bachelorette party and more. But all these people made such sacrifices for me when it was my big day, and, more importantly, these are my friends. I want to celebrate them.

Here’s my take. There are likely three reasons for not attending a wedding: You have a scheduling conflict (be it work or another wedding), you can’t/don’t want to spend the money for travel, or you have kids that make taking a weekend away impossible. The friend who asked me if it was ok to miss a wedding told me he was surprised to have been invited to this affair, it was out of town and would be a pricey venture, and he wouldn’t know many other people in attendance. I said he should do what he wanted, but that a “not gonna make it” RSVP wouldn’t be the end of the world.

To be clear: I love a wedding. I tear up at the ceremony, dance until my heels must come off, and chase down platters of spring rolls and crabcakes. Anything fried, really. (The trick is locating the servers’ path from the kitchen and strategically planting yourself so that no bacon-wrapped-scallop can get past you.) But I know some of you aren’t so keen on participating in the hooplah. And my take is that wedding attendance falls under the category of things you do for your friends, if you can.

If your absence is going to take away from the bride’s big day, then try to be there. You should want to celebrate this occasion in your friend’s life, but even if you don’t, she wants to celebrate with you.

Then again, if you hardly know the bride and suspect you were invited out of courtesy rather than any actual desire for your company, saying no might be the nicest thing you can do. I mean, your attendance isn’t cheap for the hosts, either.

What’s your wedding attendance rule? Do you try to attend all? Only go to those in town? Do you agree that being a friend means being there on the big day?


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10 responses to “Working the Wedding Circuit

  1. Megan

    I try to look at it from the perspective of the bride: if a guest I invited couldn’t be there, I would be hurt, no matter what the reason. There are reasons I would understand, of course, but for me, “Not gonna make it” (without a good reason) isn’t gonna fly – then again, I’d like to think I’d only invite people I really wanted to be there…

  2. LizC

    I’ve attended every wedding I’ve been invited to. Which is a lot. Not 7 in one year, but this is the first year since 2004 that I won’t be attending a wedding and I’m looking at it as a breather. Frankly, I’m hoping someone I know chooses to get married on the beach so I can use it as an excuse for a vacation. The people who get married in the same state don’t give me the excuse to take time off work.

  3. M

    I’ve attended almost every wedding I’ve been invited to including one that happened to fall on my birthday. The few that I missed were due to scheduling conflicts. They were also weddings so large that no one really noticed whether I was there or not. I’d also like to believe that if they invited me, they must really want me there but I have felt like there were a few that I was only invited for the gift grab. I went anyway just because I love weddings, no matter who it is.

  4. Layla

    Wow… seven in one year. I haven’t been to a wedding (that I remember… I went to one when I was really young.) I’m only 22 now so most people my age aren’t getting married yet. Weddings seem so magical and distant 🙂

  5. Anon

    I think attending a close friend’s wedding is very important.
    As a bride counting down the last weeks until her wedding, I have first hand experience in having your oldest friends come to you with the unfortunate news that they will not be attending your nuptials. Two people I absolutely could not imagine that day without are opting out, after I purposefully gave them almost 2 years to save up for the event.

    Early on I planned to have them as my bridesmaids, but after thinking about past experiences with them where they planned poorly and let me down in various ways, I was smart and decided not to give them the opportunity to blow this one for me. I made only my sisters and another best bud bridesmaids. Thank God I did, or else I would have gotten their phone calls 2 months before my wedding breaking the news that I would have been out like half my wedding party!

    It is hard because I know that if they wanted to come bad enough, they would make it work, you know? That is just what you do when someone means a lot to you. You don’t just say their friendship means a lot, and show up when it is convient to you. You DO things and make efforts for them at the important times, at least. Actions always speak louder than words. The reasons they gave for missing my wedding were monetary, even though I gave them months to save and kept my wedding as inexpensive as I could with them in mind. They both have great jobs and there are always credit cards. I had a really hard time accepting their apologies because I felt that this was something I tried to make as easy as possible for them specifically. They just don’t want to put in the effort to make it there for me.

    I am slowly getting over my initial shock that yes, these two people are indeed such big flakes that I cannot even count on them for something as special as this day. It is hard and sad and I believe it is the last straw in a string of events that have led me to finally accept that our close friendship is a thing of the past and despite being huge parts of each other’s growth into adulthood, they no longer feel our friendship is the kind of the “drop anything to be there” variety.

    Luckily, I have realized through my wedding planning that I have friends in my life now who are amazing and loyal and willing to make efforts to show how much our friendship means. I feel so lucky to have them in my life and it helps me heal from the wounds of letting go of the old friends. I never could imagine my wedding day without those two people who will be absent. But now I am so excited I get to share my day with other friends and family we love, and not let the absence ruin our amazing day.

  6. I think age has a lot to do with it. For us it was ages 24 to 28 when we were on the wedding circuit. Things have slowed down considerably since we entered our 30s. Back then I cared a great deal about attending wedding to which I’d received an invitation. Now, I still care about them, but not to the extent I used to. If I’m considering RSVPing “no” I ask myself, “Will this person’s wedding day be notably damaged in any way due to my absence?” If the answer is “no” and I have legitimate reasons not to go, I don’t guilt myself over declining the invitation.

  7. Liz

    What is everyone’s opinion on second and third weddings? At some point, is it tacky to expect the same people to jump through hoops for 3 huge, elaborate weddings in 10.5 years?

    • Granted I’ve never been in that situation (fingers crossed for this first marriage!), but yes, I think it is asking a bit much of someone when you have a third wedding as elaborate as the first. I’ve heard of some pretty big time second weddings though, so perhaps I’m wrong?

  8. A-Team

    I got married Sunday and I wish a guest had just declined the invitation. It would have saved me a lot of confusion. I still am confused about the whole story but these are the basics: She RSVPed for 1 even though I invited her husband too, and her baby. She wrote me a long note on the back of the reply card about how he couldn’t make it to take care of the baby. Fine. I totally get it. The night before the wedding she texts me to say that they all made it in to Chicago fine. So I text, “Wait, your husband IS coming”? And she texts back, “no, I am bringing my friend, I know it is last minute, I hope that’s ok.” Actually, it was not okay because I only had 60 people at the wedding, all people that who actually cared about me or my husband and she only RSVPed for 1 person and this person wasn’t her husband. I would have been happy to have accomodated her plus one if she had let me know ahead of time, not the night before the wedding. Then I see her briefly after the ceremony, (held in the same location at the reception, say hello, she is trying to use her phone and can’t get good reception so I suggest going near the window. I then notice that she is not seated at the reception table. I text her AND SHE RESPONDS THAT SHE has to go back to the hotel and won’t be coming back. We frantically tried to cancel her 5 course lobster, sea bass, steak meal, couldn’t and ended up being stuck with the cost of her meal. And guess what, no card, and no gift.

    That person is certainly clueless, isn’t she?
    Wow. I am still stunned after reading that little story of your wedding.
    What an inconsiderate looney. I am sorry you had to deal with that. With such a lovely intimate wedding guest number (60), freaks like that must stick out like a sore thumb.
    I hope the night was wonderful for you otherwise.
    And perhaps this “friend” has shown you that maybe she is not so much that, anymore. Yikes!

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