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What to Do If You Can't Make Your Friend's Wedding

Four tips on how to deal with your inability to attend a close friend or relative's nuptials.

What to Do If You Can't Make Your Friend's Wedding

Relationship Advice
what-to-go-cannot-make-it-go-to-attend-close-best-friends-wedding-nuptials-family-member-relative
Photo: Kathleen Geiberger Photography

When creating your guest list, it’s important that you discount the notion of RSVP declines so that you can estimate for the maximum number of attendees; however, unfortunately, the truth is: not everyone will be able to make it to your wedding. While it’s disheartening to know this as a bride or groom, it’s also difficult when the roles are reversed and you realize that you cannot make it to the nuptials of a close friend or family member. Everyone has certain commitments they cannot get out of, and because of this, sometimes people must skip the “I dos” of someone they love. If you find yourself busy on the day of a pal’s wedding, here are some tips on how to handle it:

-  Let them know. Rather than worry about upsetting them, it’s pertinent that you let them know right away. If this person is a close friend of yours, they should understand your prior engagement and know that you’re missing their vow exchange for something unavoidable. Don’t try to embellish your reasoning: any white lies you might tell to spare their feelings could backfire. Be honest with them – it’s out of the question to reschedule your niece’s college graduation or a completely paid-for trip out of the country. Convey how important they are to you and let them know that you support them 100%.

-  Once you send back the RSVP, stick to your decision. Be absolutely sure about your unavailability before mailing back your response. You don’t want to go back and forth about your attendance, so if you check off the “respectfully decline” box, know that you shouldn’t be calling the couple a week before the wedding telling them the good news that your commitment fell through and that they should save you a seat near the buffet. 

-  Set up a time for you to get together. To demonstrate your affection for this person, coordinate an outing – or an evening in! – with them before or after the wedding to celebrate their nuptials. Of course, keep in mind that this excursion should be planned for a convenient time: they’ll probably be incredibly busy in the weeks surrounding their ceremony. Offer up ideas of experiences you both enjoy, such as a coffee date, a movie night, or a fun day trip to a nearby destination. 

-  Send a gift. Or give them a present during your get-together! You can’t go wrong if you refer to their registry. Warning: if you elect not to purchase off their registry – or if they don’t have one – be sure that your gift is something for the couple, not just your friend, as it is a wedding present. It’s also nice to add in a note or card to express your well wishes for their marriage and your regret at not being able to witness their vows. A little sentiment can go a long way!

Discover how to be the perfect maid of honor, see some of the top wedding guest complaints, and read up on tips to ease the process of writing thank-you notes.

Opening photo by Kathleen Geiberger Photography

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