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I *MUST* Come To Your Wedding!

My husband and I got married a few years ago shortly after he’d completed his BA and just before my final year of my degree. We had a few, close mutual friends from university, but not very many. We didn’t want a huge wedding, and so were primarily restricting our guest list to family members, friends from church, a few former coworkers, and those friends from university that we were close to (e.g., had taken trips with or were former roommates).  However, before our invitations went out, a fellow classmate of ours — let’s call him Ryan — told us he wanted to come to our wedding. He tried to make it sound all cutesy — “I HAVE to be there to shower rice on you guys!” or “I want to see you feed cake to each other!” and even, “I can’t wait to dance at your reception!” — but his message was very clear. He wanted to be invited to our wedding, and not just that, but to our reception too. We were friends with Ryan, but we’d never, say, done anything with him outside of school. If he had an event going on, we weren’t invited and vice versa. When we talked with Ryan, it was primarily about school subjects, and while the chats were good, they weren’t the conversations of very close friends. However, after many of these broad hints and a lengthy discussion between my then-fiance and I, we decided to invite Ryan to the wedding. Ryan was a close friend of my two roommates at the time, so we knew he’d have people to talk to at the wedding reception.

Fast forward a few months when the RSVPs start coming in and, guess what, no response from Ryan! I email/call those who haven’t responded to find out whether they’re coming or not. Ryan finally RSVPs a week before the wedding saying that yes, of course he would be there! He was so excited! Our wedding is beautiful. We’re surrounded by family and friends and everything’s perfect. But guess what? No sign of Ryan. We arrive at the reception hall and still. . no Ryan. We find out later that he’d been scheduled to work that day. I don’t know why he didn’t at least send apologies along with my former roommates who both sang at my wedding and did the flowers. Our wedding wasn’t extravagantly expensive, but we did pay $30.00 a person for a plated service. Maybe, when Ryan finally gets married, he’ll realize that it’s a bit of faux pas to invite yourself to a wedding and then not show up.

We’re still friends with Ryan. We stay in touch through Facebook and have come across each other a few times at various events. But neither of us ever go out of our way to get together with each other because that’s simply the way our friendship has always been: pleasant, but not very close.   0513-10


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  • Shannon August 17, 2010, 8:38 am

    Honestly, I think this Ryan person was just really immature, and thought weddings were just like a house party or a kegger. Not a big deal to plan, and not a disaster if someone no-shows. Yikes.

    I’m engaged, and the idea of no-shows has me pretty worried. We’re having a buffet without assigned seats, so the idea of empty chairs doesn’t worry me. What does worry me is venue capacity: we’re tight on space, so someone who rsvp’s and doesn’t show is taking away a spot from someone who would actually really want to be there.

  • RP August 17, 2010, 8:50 am

    @mommaknowsbest – Why would you bother inviting people whom you wouldn’t notice whether or not they showed up? If it isn’t important to you that they attend your wedding then what’s the point?

    I also don’t see why it should be down to the host of any party to always do every event as cheaply as possible, even if they can afford to pay much more for a nicer set up, just because some people might break their RSVPs.

  • MyssAnthrope August 17, 2010, 8:56 am

    Wow, and I felt awful when I had to change my response to an upcoming wedding to a negative after a medical emergency drained all my funds (it was 5 hours away and the travel funds were spent on medical bills). I did however make sure to immediately let the bride know because I didn’t want her to think my boyfriend and I bailed on the wedding for something trivial. Some people just don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

  • Gloria Shiner August 17, 2010, 9:31 am

    A lot of people who RSVP’d that they would be at my niece’s wedding did not show. At the time I thought that was pretty rude, but looking back I wonder if there was a reason. Specifically, I don’t think she treats people very well. My husband and I were stuck off in a corner at a table by ourselves at the reception, as far from the “head” table as possible. My name wasn’t just spelled wrong on the place card, it was just plain wrong! Kind of makes me wonder how she might have treated others who didn’t show – although that doesn’t excuse them from notifying her they wouldn’t be there.

  • Shalamar August 17, 2010, 9:39 am

    Ugh, Lenera, that’s unbelievable. When I was getting married, I kept encountering people who apparently thought I’d been given the gift of telepathy, given how many of them assumed I would just KNOW that they were / weren’t planning to attend my wedding.

  • Caitlin August 17, 2010, 9:52 am

    Labzig, I’m in the UK and as I say above people rsvp’d yes, after begging for an invite, and then didn’t turn up. About- five, I think.

  • Xtina August 17, 2010, 10:10 am

    I’m not sure what’s worse; the fact that Ryan was begging an invitation or the fact that he then didn’t show up. I guess both are pretty bad, but perhaps the not showing up is worse since he had been included in the final costs. Just as a point of conversation–who would really want to go to an event that they had not actually been invited to? I would feel strange about being there–unwanted–if the person throwing the event had not invited me of their own accord.

    I think buffet is the way to go if you want to try to keep costs down–that way, if expected people don’t show up, it is as not as much of a blow to the event budget, and you can still take home/give away any leftovers (but don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sit-down, per-plate event is much more appropriate and trumps “economizing”).

    My friend invited me and my husband, along with another couple, over for a cookout. We showed up, but we never saw nor heard from the other couple. My friend was frantic, afraid that they’d met with some ill fate, and could not get hold of them via phone, either–not to mention the expense of the meals she’d prepared for them. Her husband ran into the husband of the other couple weeks later at a store, and the man had the gall to say that “they decided to go to the mall to shop that day”–this spoken just as matter-of-factly as if, say, one had decided not to wear black pants on any given day. When asked how come they didn’t call to let my friend know they weren’t coming, the man just shrugged. Needless to say, the couple was never included again in any party invitations my friend issued.

  • Livvy August 17, 2010, 11:18 am

    When people don’t RSVP, I assume they aren’t coming. (And most don’t…they assume -wrongly- that the lack of a response is answer enough.) Then, if they do show up, and there’s some issue with getting them a plate, or a chair, I mention how I’d only planned for so many, etc.

    This whole situation also illustrates why it’s a good idea (unless you have a vast budget) to keep your invitation list limited to close friends and family. If you know them well enough, you will probably also know who is flaky and must be planned around.

    One last tip: Sad as it may be, it might be time to drop RSVP….french education isn’t what it once was! Maybe better to be absolutely certain they understand, “Please Respond by…” Prepaid response cards also help make it easier on folks!

  • phoenix August 17, 2010, 11:35 am

    TypoTat- do you really not believe that someone could know 300 rude, clueless people? Believe me, do some event planning and you’ll realize that the clearest, most concise directions can run into huge numbers of idiots.

    It’s rude to assume that the invitations were wrong and blame the bride or MOH just because invitees behaved badly. In my grandparents area you could easily invite the whole town (about 300) and not have a single one realize that they should show up on time, not wear cutoffs, and RSVP. That doesn’t automatically mean any invitations sent to them are wrong.

  • kingshearte August 17, 2010, 12:11 pm

    @mommaknowsbest: We *did* do a fairly low-cost, buffet-style meal, so numbers didn’t matter so much, but I still noticed the people who I expected to see at my wedding but who weren’t there. Not out of any sort of scorekeeping or anything, but because I’d invited them because I wanted them to be there, and I wanted to see them, so I missed them when they didn’t appear.

    @Jillybean: And the literal translation is not “please respond” – it’s “respond if you please.” That may be true, but a literal, word-for-word translation is pretty much never a very good translation, and in this case “s’il vous plais,” while it may literally translate to “if you please,” that’s really not what it means. It does in fact simply mean “please.”

    My sister had a pair of no-shows despite a yes RSVP. These were long-time family friends who to this day, have never actually apologized to my sister. I believe they may have explained their absence to my mom, but no word to my sister. Maybe it’s pretty and grudge-holdy, but I’ve just never felt the same about these people since then, and was kind of glad when they moved to a different city so I didn’t feel any obligation to invite them to my wedding.

  • Chocobo! August 17, 2010, 3:13 pm


    I don’t think that you are right with the meaning of RSVP. I speak French and RSVP does “literally” mean “respond if you please”, but the actual French translation does mean “respond please”. French people do not shorten the phrase “if you please” to simply “please” like we do in English. That is, they do not shorten “s’il vous plaît” to “plaît.” So RSVP *does* mean “please respond,” in English and in French.

    Regardless, I doubt many people understand that R.S.V.P is a French term at all, never mind the literal vs. cultural translation. I personally have never met anyone who would consider “R.S.V.P” as “respond if you want to” rather than “please respond.” Some people might BEHAVE as those that is true, but if you asked what they think it meant I bet they would say “please respond.” Anyway, I don’t think the phrase R.S.V.P is at fault here.

    That being said, there should DEFINITEY be an exact respond by date. I think that may be more the culprit for the lack of responses. Usually I put R.S.V.P. then the R.S.V.P information, followed by a further “please respond by: ____” with an exact date to drive it home.

  • Typo Tat August 18, 2010, 4:04 am

    @phoenix – I believe that one can know 300 rude people. But to think that every single guest, including distant family, friends and coworkers are all that rude? Unlikely.

    It’s far more likely that the invitation did not include a RSVP card or somehow implied that RSVP in writing wasn’t needed. Maybe the guests got the impression that just mentioning they’d be there, in a conversation with the bride/groom/parents, is RSVP enough?

  • Mechtilde August 18, 2010, 4:04 am

    Labzig- I’m in the UK as well, and am the person with the four no-shows. The no shows weren’t from the UK, but my DH tells me that it is just as rude to do so in his country.

  • Xtina August 18, 2010, 8:48 am

    On wording for RSVP requests, agree that in this day and age, there are many who probably don’t have a clue what RSVP means in any way, shape, or form–never mind the literal French translation, but some don’t even have the slightest inkling that those 4 little letters mean that you’re supposed to give a response of some sort to the event-thrower.

    “RSVP regrets only” is common where I am. Mom always used to tell me that if a person was invited and didn’t specifically decline your invitation, that you should plan on that person being there–that it was better to over-prepare than under-prepare. True that you would sometimes end up with a few no-shows, but most people around here seem to know that you should call with regrets, if not RSVP in the affirmative as well–so generally, not hearing from someone specifically calling to decline means they’ll be there.

  • Mary August 18, 2010, 8:50 am

    For those saying keep it to close friends and family to avoid no shows, I was the one with 30 that didn’t show out of 230 that said yes, they would be there. Looking back, some of these people were friends that we have not kept touch with since the wedding. But when you are right out of college, quite often you don’t know which of your friends you will keep in close contact with.
    However several of these people were first cousins of my husband. I think several of his aunts responded that the whole family would be coming and probably never checked with their older children to make sure they could really make it. One of the couples who didn’t show, my husband had stood up in their wedding only a year before and they never contacted us or sent a card saying why they didn’t come. Some others were the “dates” of some of our good friends.
    Again, I think part of the problem was they they were young and just did not think. Plus I think many of the others who were used to buffets at weddings instead of sit down dinners don’t understand that you are paying for all of those that responded. I always hope that when they got married themselves they realized what they ended up doing to us.

  • Anon August 18, 2010, 10:00 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe Anonymous shelled out $2,700 for guests that didn’t show. I would be livid. I thought my situation was bad (10 no-shows at $100 a person). We noticed the no-shows only because these were people that we were surprised we didn’t see at the wedding due to our close relationship with them or the fact that they begged for an invitation.

    One couple that failed to show is really close with my husband and he speaks with them weekly. They still have not mentioned the reason that they didn’t come to our wedding. They were only a 20 minute drive from the church and reception hall so it’s not like they were hours away. I would not expect anyone to give me an explanation as to why they didn’t show up to my wedding after the fact but I do find it odd to say, “Yes, I’m coming” and not come.

  • Jerra August 20, 2010, 2:14 am

    Oh heck, when my sis announced her engagement a quite needy friend of hers immediately began with “what color will our dresses be?” and invited herself into the bridal party!!!! I couldn’t believe sis allowed it, and her involvement became more and more irritating to the rest of us as the wedding approached. I was the MOH, and I had practically told her off after her criticisms of everything I did, and we were barely speaking by the time the wedding came. My sis couldn’t wait to get rid of her either… I still can’t believe how it all went down!!!

  • SouthernSugar August 20, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Sometimes who it is who doesn’t show up makes a huge difference, too. If it’s the person who made a big deal out of being invited, of course you’re more likely to notice when that person no-shows because they’ve built up your wedding in your mind as this big event that they just can’t wait to attend!

    There are other cases where it’s apparent, too. Like when it’s the FOG. SouthernHoney and his dad have never been close (I’ve met him once in the past seven years, at his sister’s wedding), so I was beyond surprised when his dad called (okay, less surprised when I found out he was going through another divorce and wanted some kind of emotional support ???) and eventually assured SouthernHoney that he would be at the wedding. Repeatedly. So when the big day rolled around and he was nowhere to be found, not only did we notice, but so did SouthernHoney’s sister — she hasn’t spoken to him since. So not attending after you RSVP yes can have some serious relationship consequences.

  • Marghi August 21, 2010, 3:51 am

    But its not that no one RSVP’d–the writer states, “fast forward a few months when the RSVPs start coming in and, guess what, no response from Ryan!”

    While I agree that RSVP’s seem to be generally ignored (or perhaps misunderstood) in this case it sounds like the problem was not with the invitation but with Ryan, who seems to believe that the rules of consideration do not apply to him.

    Personally, in future, I’m going to follow some of the poster’s advice above : please let us know by (date) whether or not you are coming so we can plan our menu.

  • Enna August 21, 2010, 3:16 pm

    That is so bad and very rude. Did you tactifully point out to him that he had insisted and expressed a keen interest to go and that you only invited him after his persistance? If you didn’t recieve an RSVP from him then the OP should’ve contacted Ryan and tell him that if he doesn’t then it is assumed he isn’t going to the wedding and if he turns up turn him away. May sound harsh but he let you down anyway.

  • Off Topic Chatter August 23, 2010, 3:29 am

    I actually attended a wedding of a good friend last weekend. We were speaking about her stress a couple of weeks before her big day. Fourteen RSVPs weren’t received, and she was even more stressed out when she was unable to get in touch with five of them. It’s very inconsiderate NOT to respond, whether it’s even a quick phone call or a straight to the point email, people should have the courtesy to reply.