You Can’t Attend a Wedding, What Are Your Obligations?

rsvpYou’ve just been invited to a coworker’s wedding. While the two of you are good friends around the water cooler, after a quick consultation with your calendar, you immediately realize you will be unable to attend the wedding. Do you really have to do anything beyond that?

The RSVP

The idea behind an RSVP is to let the happy couple-to-be know whether you plan to attend. In most cases, that means responding with a “Yes” or a “No.” Simple ignoring the invitation completely is a terrible breach of etiquette.  If you do not plan to attend, follow the protocol on the invitation. In most cases, a response card will be enclosed so you can let the couple know about your choice. Your RSVP will typically not be challenged.

Uncomfortable with an outright “no”? You may want to let them know why you won’t be attending, and that’s perfectly okay. If it’s a destination wedding, feel free to explain the fact that you already have travel plans for your vacation days this year or that you simply can’t afford to make the trip. The same goes in the event that it’s an out of town wedding. If you already have other plans, that’s a perfectly natural response as well. Whatever you choose to say, though, try to avoid telling a lie. You may end up in a web of lies that it’s increasingly tough to get out of at some point in time.

The Gift

wedding_giftMost wonder if they are required to send a gift, despite the fact that they don’t intend to attend the wedding. The answer to this tough question is a bit muddled. Some experts suggest that all you do have to do is send a note of congratulations to the couple. A gift, unless you’re attending the wedding, is not required of you.

These days, however, most people who receive an invitation do send a gift, whether they plan to attend or not, and etiquette experts, including the Emily Post Institute, are starting to lean toward this philosophy. There are some exceptions to the rule, however. Those experiencing financial difficulties do not have to send gifts, nor do those who will not be attending destination weddings. Similarly, if you do not plan to attend a wedding of someone who you haven’t been close with for a number of years, there’s no need to send a gift.

Should you choose to go ahead and send a wedding gift, however, make certain that you do so before the wedding actually occurs. You may want to try to get the couple’s registry information from their wedding website, through social media, or through the maid of honor so you can choose the perfect gift for the two of them.

It may be difficult to choose not to attend the wedding, but once you’ve made your choice, you do have a few other obligations to attend to if you don’t actually plan to be at the wedding. Just saying “no” isn’t going to be enough in this case.

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