Here’s Exactly What To Do If You Suddenly Can’t Attend a Friend’s Wedding

What do you do if you suddenly can’t attend a wedding? It happens. Things come up, especially urgent, unavoidable things like sickness, unexpected deaths, can’t-miss work trips, and other legitimate excuses. Whatever the reason, it’s how you handle your RSVP status that counts.


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Regardless of how close you are to the couple, no-showing is NEVER appropriate. Brides and grooms pay per head at their wedding, so you ghosting them would cost a couple hundred bucks or more. Not cool! So, if you do need to back out, but want to still be friends with the couple after the fact, then just make sure to follow the proper etiquette for communicating and making it up to them.

When And How To Let Them Know
The best way to communicate to a couple if you suddenly can’t attend their wedding is to do it as soon as possible. Give them your legitimate reason, so they know you’re not totally blowing them off, and promise you’ll make it up to them.

The longer you wait, the more difficult and costly it will be for them to coordinate with their vendors the change in headcount. A phone call, not a text, is appropriate, and if they don’t answer, leave a voicemail. If you don’t hear back from them after a couple of days, then follow it up with an email or text letting them know that you called and you’re so sorry you can’t make it.

If it’s a day-of cancellation, a short, to the point text is appropriate. “I’m very sorry, we cannot make it to your wedding today as John is in the hospital. No need to respond—I hope you have a wonderful wedding day and will check in next week.”  

While no bride should have to deal with that stress, you also don’t want them worrying about your health or safety, either! Follow up after their wedding or honeymoon with a phone call.


Brklyn View Photography

How To Make It Up To Them
Depending on how close you are to the couple, how much notice you give them, and how they take the news, the way in which you make it up to them varies. If you’re canceling after having already committed, then you should definitely send a gift off of their registry as if you would be attending. Sending fresh flowers is also a nice gesture.


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If you are close to the bride or groom, then it’s also appropriate to treat them to a special outing after the wedding. Take them to a nice dinner as a couple, or treat the bride to a spa day. As long as you make a sincere effort, they are sure to be understanding and forgiving.

Style Me Pretty Contributor – Julia Hurwitz is a freelance writer and Marketing Manager based in New York City. Her interests include travel, global craft, healthy baking, entertaining and exploring the outdoors.


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