The Big Debate: Is a wedding invite a burden?

Brides, I’m afraid that I’m the bearer of bad news. You see, no matter how much you try to plan your wedding to be convenient, or at least accessible to everyone, no matter how much care or attention you pour into making sure everyone’s happy, sooner or later, the complaining starts. You can’t escape it, you just have to accept that, no matter how ungrateful it seems from our planning bubble, guests will inevitably begin complaining about the burden of you having invited them in the first place.

So guests, to help our brides out, I’ve written a little piece on whether getting invited to a wedding is, in fact, a burden.

People get invited to weddings for a number of reasons. The best-case scenario is the bride and groom genuinely want you there – the worst is you’re someone they have to invite (or you’re someone’s plus one). But whatever the reason, there’s no denying that attending a wedding can be an expensive affair. Accomodation and travel are both factors, then there’s the gift and, for some reason, people seem to think they need to buy something entirely new to wear. All things considered, weddings can leave guests out of pocket. And that can lead to grumbling. After all, why should you have to pay because someone else is making an important life commitment?

So I’m going to say something controversial. If you feel burdened – if you feel that you’re not close enough to the couple to warrant spending a one-off chunk of money to be with them on the biggest day of their lives, then you’ve shouldn’t go. Those really close to the couple won’t think twice about travelling and staying in a hotel for one night of their lives for the occasion.

Now, my reasoning for this is as follows: I’ve been lucky enough to see three friends get married in my time – and every time I’ve found a way to make it happen. Accomodation doesn’t have to cost the Earth, there are enough budget hotels popping up nationwide. Travel may well be a cost, but sharing transport helps. And a gift? Trust me, you’re not invited for the gift. While it’s good etiquette to give one, they aren’t obligatory. And if you do want to give one, buy one within your means, most people have a range of items on their gift list. Finally, and this one is controversial, whenever I’ve gone to a wedding, I’ve worn something I already own. Yes, shock horror, I don’t need to expand my wardrobe every time I attend an event.

The important part for me is that being invited to a wedding is an honour. It’s sacred. You’re somebody who’s going to be present on the moment two people make a lifelong commitment to build a life together. There’s something awe-inspiring about that – something so moving that no matter what the wedding, I’ve always got a bit choked up. To be there the moment the bride walks in, and for that one day is the most beautiful woman in the room regardless of anything else, because it’s her day… to me, that’s an honour.

It’s an honour that someone would invite me to their meal. I know how much these things cost, they can come to hundreds of pounds a head, all things included. Whatever the reason, they’ve chosen you to be part of it, and believe me, it isn’t a decision they’ve taken lightly. You are filling up a place more valuable than you could realise. That’s an honour.

So yes, I do understand that attending a wedding can cost. Financial times are tough. We’re all scrimping and saving.

But if you feel like you’re going to resent going, then a polite RSVP “no” is the right thing to do. I can assure you the couple will only want people who, from the bottom of their hearts, want to be there.

So while this might sound like a lecture, when you’re thinking about how much attending a wedding will cost you, think about how much time, effort, money and care the couple have put into inviting you. And then ask yourself in all conscience if you really mean your RSVP “yes”.

And if you do, have a wonderful day celebrating with dear ones. Going to a wedding with excitement and joy in your heart is the best gift you could give the couple.

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