Blue RSVP SignSick relatives, sudden changes in plans, or pressing workplace issues can crop up at any time. It’s one thing if they conflict with casual social plans, but it’s quite another if they force you to bow out of attending someone’s wedding. How do you cancel your wedding RSVP without offending your soon-to-be-married friend? Some wise advice can help you handle this delicate situation.

When Is It Acceptable To Back Out of a Wedding RSVP?

The concept of “paying for your plate” at weddings is slowly disappearing. The Knot explains that this mostly applied to how much guests were expected to spend on gifts, but it was never a valid etiquette rule. With that said, the happy couple does spend a lot of time and money ensuring that their weddings are joyful experiences for everyone involved. That planning involves keeping careful track of guest numbers and keeping caterers, venues, and other vendors informed.

Martha Stewart Weddings’ Nicole Harris touches on this point when discussing suitable reasons to cancel a wedding RSVP. It’s a good idea to try to attend if you possibly can, but it’s fine to cancel if you can’t attend due to illness or severe weather. After all, you don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s health or safety. Huffington Post writer Kelsey Borresen mentions that cancellations are also acceptable for family emergencies, sudden deaths, unexpected budgetary constraints, or work commitments.

Keep in Touch With the Couple

In her Martha Stewart Wedding piece, Nicole Harris cites wedding planner Jenna Lam’s advice to get in touch with the couple if you even suspect you’ll need to cancel. However, this advice can even be useful before you RSVP. Loverly’s Alexia Conley stresses the importance of having an honest conversation with them if you think a conflict could occur: for instance, if you’re an on-call worker, you’re expecting a baby close to the wedding date, or you have a terminally ill family member.

Prompt Communication Is Vital

You’ve made your plans with no hint that you’ll need to back out, but you suddenly find that you must change them. Whatever’s preventing you from attending your friends’ wedding, you need to let them know as soon as possible. If it’s before the RSVP deadline, the couple will have more room to make adjustments. Keep in mind that most vendors require final headcounts the week before an event, so make sure you don’t put off that call.

Speaking of phone calls, most experts recommend this method for reaching out to the happy couple to let them know you can’t make it. If you can tell them in person, that’s also a good choice.  Don’t send a text message since this may seem rude or impersonal. Even worse, your hosts may not see your message until it’s too late.

What if you need to cancel the day before or on the date itself? With dozens of things to do, your friends may not be able to respond to your call or it may stress them out even more. In these cases, it’s wiser to contact someone close to the couple instead. This could be one of their parents, a close friend, or even their wedding planner.

What To Do After the Wedding

It’s natural to feel bad for missing out on your friends’ wedding. You don’t need to feel guilty, but getting in touch with them after the big day is a thoughtful gesture. A sincere apology through a note or phone call should be sufficient. While you’re at it, don’t forget to send your wedding gift.

Life happens, and you’re often confronted with the unexpected. If you can’t attend someone’s wedding, you can still be considerate when canceling. Contacting the couple promptly, following up with heartfelt communication, and giving your gift are courteous actions that go a long way to fostering ongoing good relations.

Category: Ceremonies

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