OPEN THREAD: Should you attend the wedding of a couple you aren't inviting to yours?

Vintage Blush foil-pressed wedding invitations from Minted.
Vintage Blush foil-pressed wedding invitations from Minted.

Hi Offbeat Army! I need a little advice.

I was invited to a wedding of two friends — actually more like acquaintances — who are getting married this spring. Though I don't know for sure, I think they're having a big wedding. My girlfriend and I agree that when we get married this couple wouldn't be on our invite list (for two reasons: because we want a smaller wedding, and because we're really not that close with them).

Knowing this, should we go to their wedding? -Ltn318

Is it right to go to someone's wedding when you know you won't invite them to yours?

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  1. Go for it! I had a larger wedding and invited some people we just liked because we had the room. If those people don't invite me to their future weddings, I won't be offended. You have a pretty simple explanation for them too, if it comes up. Just tell them your wedding is small and restricted to family and very close friends.

    18 agree
  2. Definitely go. You were invited, and if you can make it, grace them with your presence. I'm a event coordinator and as far as etiquette goes, you're not breaking any rules here. When it comes to your big day, it's exactly that: YOURS. You do what you want to do and invite who you want to invite. If anyone questions you on it, as you said earlier, you want a smaller, more intimate affair. Great question to ask though. It shows you're being considerate and thinking of others feelings. Good for you. But you go to that wedding and have a blast!
    -Golden Touch Events

    9 agree
  3. If you want to go, then yes, definitely! As someone having a big wedding, my fiance and I are absolutely choosing who to invite based on who we want there, not on who we expect to have us as wedding guests. Our guest list has at least one couple getting married shortly before us who I know for a fact aren't inviting us to their wedding. We're just stoked that they get back from their honeymoon in time to join us!

    5 agree
  4. Oh man oh man — I break into hives just thinking about this.
    I don't think I could go. I also don't think that's the right response — the people who've already answered "GO" have a better approach, I suspect.
    But I still don't think I could do it.

    3 agree
    • I'd say "it depends". Friends of ours got married 2 years ago & they invited a newly engaged couple from our group of friends, and then the following year – yep, didn't get invited to their wedding, and there were hard feelings at being the only couple of the group not invited. It was the grooms who had more of the friend connection, and the groom of Wedding B shrugged it off to, well, we don't feel all that close to them, never have. Groom of Wedding A is now being polite but distant with him. Yes, in time the hurt feelings may fade. Yes, everyone's entitled to invite who they want to their big day. But like any life decision, if you have even a niggling doubt or are second guessing yourself – then, don't do it (whatever "it" is).

      3 agree
  5. If you want to go then go! If you don't want to go then don't! I know it's hard to disentangle the two events from each other but they ARE two totally separate events. Accepting their invitation doesn't mean you have to add them to your guest list, and you also shouldn't feel like you can't go because they aren't on yours.
    Example, my husband and I do a lot of community theater so we have a lot of acquaintances from theater circles who we feel super close to even though we might only spend 8 weeks with them once every couple years. There was no way we could invite all of these people to our wedding aside from having a totally separate event with just them! We had to narrow it down which was really hard but we did what needed to be done. We recently found out that we're invited to the wedding of one of the couples who didn't make our cut and we're thrilled! We're really happy that they have the room to invite us and obviously they understand that we just didn't have the space, funds, etc. to extend the invite to them.
    Bottom line, your guest list is yours and theirs is theirs. There's no reason to feel bad or awkward about it.

    7 agree
  6. I'd say if you want to go, go. Every couple makes their own guest list based on what they can afford, how much space they have, etc. Wedding invites are not tit-for-tat, and this couple may just be planning a huge blow-out party where they invite everyone they know. That's pretty much what me and my fiance are doing, but I totally understand that that's not the same event everyone else would want for their wedding. And honestly, since it doesn't sound like you're super close to this couple, the most interaction you'll probably have with them at their wedding is "hi, so glad you could make it!". I wouldn't worry too much about explaining your own guest list.

    3 agree
    • No real constructive things to add on, I just love when people use the phrase 'tit-for-tat' in regular conversation.

      Hello, I'm as mature as a 10 year old boy. Carry on.

      6 agree
  7. I think go for it. They will understand if you're wedding is smaller and a more intimate affair of close friends and family. If their wedding was the same size as your small nuptials, you probably wouldn't be invited to theirs either. Don't over think it too much and go.

    1 agrees
  8. I would say go for it (if you otherwise would want to go). If this couple is the type to be hurt or offended by not getting an invite when they invited you, they're probably going to be hurt and offended regardless of whether you attend their wedding or not! I'm not sure how skipping their wedding is meant to make them feel BETTER about the non-invite? Obviously if you have a legit reason you can't or don't want to go, you're not obligated, but otherwise I would go.

    4 agree
  9. What about if it's a distant cousin/family member instead of a friend inviting you to their wedding?

    • In my family it's an unwritten rule that when it comes to cousins you invite whichever ones you are close with like friends, depending on the space you have. This is because our family is huge, and having hurt feelings because someone you haven't seen in a decade didn't invite you is silly. The aunts and uncles are more difficult. My dad has 10 living siblings. We have 3 choices that are considered acceptable. You invite all of them, you invite none of them, or you invite just your godparents, which are likely one or two of them. Anything else, and someone will get offended.

      How distant are you talking about? Is it someone you're going to see regularly at family events, or is their wedding the first time you'd see them in years? Do you feel comfortable meeting with them and talking? My fiancé's friend is going on a 3 month trip soon, and my fiancé doesn't want to go to his going away party because it isn't his scene, there will be a lot of drinking, which he doesn't do, etc. He's taking him out to dinner instead to say goodbye. Maybe you can meet with the relative, have lunch or something, and talk about the differences in your weddings, and why you can't invite them, and why you feel awkward about going to theirs knowing this fact. I would think in general it's like acquaintences in that the size of the wedding, and other factors should make it not a big deal, but nobody can hold a grudge like family, so talking it over with them might ease any discomfort on both sides.

  10. Go, but be open and honest with them (if it's that kind of relationship) when your turn comes. I had a friend cancel her RSVP to my wedding to do a taste testing for her wedding, which I wasn't invited to. All I needed was a simple "sorry, budget means I can't invite you."

    • Talking with them before both weddings seems like the best time. It feels less skeezy than going to someone else's wedding, eating the food they paid for, having a good time, and then before yours saying, nope I'm not paying for you to do the same. Being open before both weddings, and I think the couple of the first wedding should be more understanding.

  11. How does this advice work in reverse? My situation: getting married in 25 days. There's a lovely couple that we're friendly with but didn't invite. We just got their save-the-date. If we invited them now, it would simply be awkward and obvious why, so we won't. But should we go? What's the kindest way to approach this?

    • If you knew this couple previous to making your guest list and chose not to invite them I wouldn't invite them now. If you met them after your guest list was finalized and you've grown close since then it would be a different story. You said you just received a save-a-date from them so there's probably awhile before you get the official invitation. When you do you can see how you feel about it and if you feel close enough to them at that point then attend.

      • Update: I wanted to communicate with them before our own wedding, so I simply sent a heartfelt, kind apology. The sent the SWEETEST response about how they understand, how guest lists are difficult, and how excited they are for us. I then invited her to my low key bachelorette. The Fiance and I are going, because as people have said, they want us there and it'll be fun! It was nice to get confirmation that people generally do understand. This post was helpful, so thank y'all!

  12. I actually have a question. Should I go to a wedding if I was not invited? My friend's brother is getting married in September and my friend wants me to take her and go, also. She says it is alright, but I have not heard that from either the bride or groom. I feel I should not attend.

    • Are you going as the sister of the groom's plus one? If so, then that would be okay. What I would do is ask your friend to show you her invitation including the envelope. If it's addressed to her and a guest, and your the guest, then go ahead! If it's just addressed to her then that means there was no plus one option and no, you shouldn't go. If she no longer has the invitation then I'd just ask either the bride or groom if your friend gets a guest. It may be awkward but I'd rather do that then show up at the wedding and realize it wasn't cool for me to do so!

  13. I'm usually more of a lurker, but commenting today because my first impulse seems to be one that hasn't come up in this discussion yet: If I invited someone to my wedding and they didn't show up, I'd be sad. If I then found out they missed my special day because one day I wouldn't be invited to theirs, I'd be pissed off. These events are two different things. Why take away something from mine (the guests I'd have loved to be there to be with me to celebrate and share this important event in my life), only because I'm not going to be sharing yours. It doesn't make any sense in my head whatsoever.

    Maybe this is a cultural thing and my european views are just different from what is socially acceptable elsewhere, but I thought I'd leave my two cents just in case they help someone feel better about their decision.

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