Author Topic: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?  (Read 7963 times)

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Asha

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There's a discussion in the Wedding Etiquette section about politely declining an invitation and some disagreement about whether or not you have to give a reason.

So I ask the Hospitality gang: what is the etiquette surrounding RSVP for an event?  Must you give a reason if you decline?

jimithing

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2008, 11:39:38 AM »
You are not obligated to give a reason.  However, if it were a family member or friend, who wasn't toxic and I had a close relationship with, I would give a reason so they knew I wasn't just blowing them off.

TootsNYC

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2008, 01:27:40 PM »
In general, having previous plans is the one acceptable reason, and it's all you need.

But I think if you decline a *wedding* (which you usually know about far in advance), you will risk creating a rift if you don't give a reason.

Weddings are pretty much command performances; they are probably the most important event in the life of the person who is marrying, and if you aren't willing to be there, you're sending a message about how important they are to you.

If you are quiet about the reason, they'll have to assume what that reason is. And then you leave them open to misunderstanding the relationshp between you. (or not)

So, it's not required, but they are probably going to draw conclusions based on that action (as well as other parts of the context--if you live an entire continent away and you RSVP "no," they may cheerfully assume that the time and trouble of traveling is just too hard, and will figure that's appropriate for their relationship with you, their cousin--but mildly hurtful if you're their sister).

artk2002

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2008, 02:03:49 PM »
Weddings are pretty much command performances; they are probably the most important event in the life of the person who is marrying, and if you aren't willing to be there, you're sending a message about how important they are to you.

I'm afraid that I can't agree with this in any way.  An invitation is an invitation, not a summons or an invoice.  If I felt the way that you did, I would end up resenting almost every invitation that came my way -- simply because it was "obligatory."  I don't think that there's any reference, in etiquette, that would agree with you.
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TootsNYC

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2008, 09:55:25 AM »
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I don't think that there's any reference, in etiquette, that would agree with you.

I didn't say there was.

I said, I guess you missed it? It's not required.

But I think it's risky. Here's why:

This is the most important invitation this person will ever issue to you.

How you answer will tell them about how important they are to you (or how important their position in your family is to them).

You're not required to go, but how you answer will affect your relationship with them.

When I save up money and time to go to my first-cousin-once-removed's wedding in Wisconsin, I tell her that she is important to me, and I tell her mom (my cousin) that SHE is important to me, and I tell my aunt that HER FAMILY is important to me. And I tell my MOTHER that her family is important to me.

If I decide not to go, even after having been told 2 years ago that Kelsey and Jack will marry when he gets back from Iraq and she graduates; even after having received a save-the-date six months ahead of time; I will be telling those people that they are not quite so important to me. That even with lots of notice and time to save up airfare, even though I don't need to rent a car, and can split a hotel room with my folks, etc., they're not high enough on my radar screen to bother.

If I give a reason--I just started a job and can't get tiem off; I lost my job and can't afford the airfare; my daughter is graduating from high school that same weekend--I can give some context to my decision not to go. I can change the message.

Now, maybe I don't WANT to change the message.

We get invited to every birthday party and christening from one couple in the extended family that we always decline, and never w/ a reason. We send a card of congratulations when the baby is born, but never a gift. And we don't send the baby a birthday card. Why? Because I'm hoping they'll take the hint and stop inviting us. I don't have anything against them, but they are not important to me; I don't want to reserve time in my schedule or my life, or money in my budget, for their family.

So, no, you don't need to give a reason. But all this communication (or lack of it) is how people send messages to one another about how valuable their relationship is.

That's all.

caranfin

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2008, 09:56:44 AM »
Etiquette does not demand that you give a reason. But if you're going to miss the wedding of someone close to you, common courtesy insists on an explanation, IMHO.
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mechtilde

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2008, 10:00:25 AM »
I would say that the RSVP should simply say that you are unable to attend, or possibly that due to a prior engagement you are unable to attend, but that it would be nice to tell the HC at a convenient moment why you can't go.
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Asha

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2008, 10:37:47 AM »
This is the most important invitation this person will ever issue to you.
I disagree with you here.  Some people never marry, nor have any desire to marry.  For some, a graduation, swearing in ceremony, or pledge to religious life might be their most important event.  But I digress.


So etiquette says you do not HAVE to provide a reason for declining an invitation.  I think that we can agree that there are times that doing so is important for other reasons, but a person can decline an invitation with no reason and still be within the bounds of etiquette propriety.

Hawkwatcher

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2008, 10:45:51 AM »
I think that if you decide to give a reason, you need to be careful.  I remember a thread where the bride was hurt because her grandparents gave what she considered a frivolous reason. In this case, knowing the reason made her feel worse.

 
If you claim financial reasons for not attending, you risk opening yourself up for scrutiny.  For example, you decline a wedding invitation from close relatives because you cannot afford to fly their wedding on the other side of the country.  You explain that money is tight to the HC and the HC understands.  A couple weeks later, your car is destroyed in an accident.  Fortunately, you are not injured because you were not in the car.  It was parked outside on the street when the accident occurred.  You end up buying a new car with the insurance settlement.  At this wedding, one of your relatives decides to mention that you got a new car without mentioning the circumstances.  Although the HC would probably understand why you bought a new car once someone eventually told them the circumstances, they are probably wonder why you couldn't afford to come to their wedding but you could afford to buy a new car.

Aeris

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2008, 10:48:40 AM »
This is the most important invitation this person will ever issue to you.
I disagree with you here.  Some people never marry, nor have any desire to marry.  For some, a graduation, swearing in ceremony, or pledge to religious life might be their most important event.  But I digress.
Not to nitpick, but she didn't say "Every person's most important invitation is their wedding invitation", but rather "This is the most important invitation this person (the one getting married) will ever issue to you" - which means that if one is getting married, the invites one issues are the most important invites they will ever issue. It says nothing at all about people not getting married.

Not that you can't argue with the statement as written, but it doesn't imply anything about people who don't get married or want to.


TootsNYC

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2008, 10:52:13 AM »
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Some people never marry, nor have any desire to marry.  For some, a graduation, swearing in ceremony, or pledge to religious life might be their most important event

I said, "this is the most important invitation THIS person will ever issue to you."

Those folks that don't marry will hopefully issue you an invitation to some OTHER type of event.

And I should have put "probably," because perhaps those friends & family who do marry may have some other important event to invite you to (when they blast off to outerspace from Kazakstan, as my h.s. classmate did recently--but no, she didn't invite me, we're not close).

But for most people who do happen to marry, very little else will shape their lives as dramatically as their marriage will. It's an important event. (of course, many times people don't know that they *won't* get married, and maybe their graduation party is their most-important event but they don't know it yet; that's why I take all sorts of invitations like that quite seriously)


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So etiquette says you do not HAVE to provide a reason for declining an invitation.  I think that we can agree that there are times that doing so is important for other reasons, but a person can decline an invitation with no reason and still be within the bounds of etiquette propriety.

Exactly!

And I think weddings are different from every other social event (even baby showers or christenings).


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her grandparents gave what she considered a frivolous reason. In this case, knowing the reason made her feel worse

Poor bride! But it was probably accurate information in some way (that she wasn't as important as she thought; or that they have weird priorities, or stupid social skills). Even if it hurt.

Hawkwatcher

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2008, 12:45:18 PM »
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Poor bride! But it was probably accurate information in some way (that she wasn't as important as she thought; or that they have weird priorities, or stupid social skills). Even if it hurt.

I agree that the information was accurate and the bride was not overreacting.  The funny thing was that she did not even ask them their reason for declining.  They just volunteered that "little gem" on their own.  They would have been better off not saying anything or coming up with a vague excuse such as "prior commitment."

caranfin

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2008, 02:31:50 PM »
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Poor bride! But it was probably accurate information in some way (that she wasn't as important as she thought; or that they have weird priorities, or stupid social skills). Even if it hurt.

I agree that the information was accurate and the bride was not overreacting.  The funny thing was that she did not even ask them their reason for declining.  They just volunteered that "little gem" on their own.  They would have been better off not saying anything or coming up with a vague excuse such as "prior commitment."

Honestly, even though I know it's not correct etiquette, I'd have been crushed if my grandparents declined my wedding because they had a "prior commitment." Unless it was their own wedding.
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Asha

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2008, 03:05:15 PM »
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Some people never marry, nor have any desire to marry.  For some, a graduation, swearing in ceremony, or pledge to religious life might be their most important event

I said, "this is the most important invitation THIS person will ever issue to you."
My apologies.  What I meant by "some" was "for some people who do marry."

artk2002

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Re: S/O from declining a wedding invite - What does etiquette say?
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2008, 03:15:10 PM »
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I don't think that there's any reference, in etiquette, that would agree with you.

I didn't say there was.

I said, I guess you missed it? It's not required.

No, I didn't miss it.  My response was based on two things.  First, the title of this thread asks "what does etiquette say" and I gave the answer, according to etiquette.  Second, although you say "It's not required," the rest of your post says "yes, it is required," although not necessarily in those words.  It's either required or it isn't.  Saying that it's not required, "but..." doesn't work for me.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain