Ask Lily Beth: Declining a Wedding Invite post-RSVP

A cousin of mine is getting married in two weeks.  Meanwhile, I am one month fresh into a separation/divorce.  At the time, I was under the rsvp deadline pressure to reply.  Not only did I accept the invitation, I replied with guest.

I am not particularly close with this cousin and just cannot get excited to attend a wedding right now.  How can I withdraw from attending properly?

Oh, heavens, honey. We’ve all done this – Jack and I just recently replied “yes” to a wedding invitation for someone with whom we’re not particularly close, and then realized we have opera tickets that same evening, to an opera we’ve both looked forward to for over a year. Our response? Change the tickets and go to the wedding, even though we don’t know the couple all that well. If we hadn’t been able to change the tickets, we would have given them away.

If the deadline was further out – two months, let’s say – I’d feel more assured in telling you it would be alright to cancel. (Life’s what happens while you’re making other plans, right?) And I certainly concur with your hesitation to attend a wedding, of all things, at this difficult juncture in your life.

But here’s the thing about responding “Yes!” and then waiting until the last minute (meaning less than four weeks) to decline: the couple has already paid your cost of being there. Deposits and first payments have already gone down. Seating arrangements have already been made, etc.

Valid excuses for cancellations at this point would require either death or dismemberment. Tough, but true.

My advice is go, grab a girlfriend to take up that “plus one,” stay through the ceremony, make sure you get facetime with the bride, and then head on home if you’re still feeling emotionally shitty. (Would Jackie say “shitty?” Probably not, but it’s as good a word for a divorce as any.)

But who knows – you might have a good time.

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