THE BLOG

A Rant by a Professional Wedding Planner: Do Not RSVP 'Yes' to a Wedding and No-Show

04/09/2015 06:10 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015
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Listen up, Wedding Guests! Enough of this tacky behavior where you RSVP a "yes" to a wedding invitation, select your dinner (and probably choose dinner for your spouse or date), participate in pre-wedding events, and then no-show at the actual wedding and reception. ENOUGH! Unless you're in the hospital or have just had a death in your immediate family, there is no excuse to no-show at a wedding. EVER. It's very rude.

Does this sound like a rant? It is. On behalf of myself (who had quite a few "no shows" at my at-home reception at the National Press Club a week after my destination wedding 10-plus years ago) and all the beautiful couples I work with, it's time to speak up and talk about what happens when a wedding guest is rude enough to either not show up, or drop out from a destination wedding, at the very last minute. I can only assume their parents didn't teach them better, so I'm going to do the honors right here.

First, let's talk about how much money the brides and grooms are spending to host all their family and friends at a wedding and reception. Generally speaking, it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 to $500 per person, if you really split up everything, not just the food and beverages they're not drinking. As for the actual food and beverage tab, if it's at a nicer venue and not a potluck at the Knights of Columbus, they're spending AT LEAST $150 per person just on food, drinks, cake and favors -- and usually considerably more. So if you and your date decide, for whatever reason, not to attend, you've just wasted at least $300 of your friends' money. Do you usually do that to friends? How would you feel if they just walked in and took $300 out of your wallet? Because that's basically what you've done to them.

Second, let's talk about how much of the brides' and grooms' money you waste if you bail out on a destination wedding at the last minute -- because that's much, much worse. Look, if you don't already know for sure that you can attend a wedding, don't RSVP a "yes." And if you know you can't afford the trip, simply decline. Nobody will be mad. What pisses off my clients is when they're not able to provide the final number of guests to all of their vendors so they can make final payments on time because a few inconsiderate guests aren't able to just be honest and say they aren't coming.

Truth: I tell all of my clients that if your guests can't commit by the RSVP deadline, they are not coming. They just don't know how to tell you that. There are exceptions to the rule -- somebody's in the military or a friend who is having a baby close to your wedding date -- but as a general rule, anybody who can't accept your invitation by the deadline isn't coming. No matter what hemming and hawing they're doing about how they're trying to make it work. My advice in this situation is to tell the guests you wish they could be there, but you have a deadline for your vendors. If they cannot commit, they cannot come. Harsh? Not really. Fair is more like it.

Destination wedding couples have to turn in final numbers of guests far ahead of traditional at-home weddings. And many times they have committed to filling up a certain number of hotel rooms at their wedding venue. Do you know what happens when you say you're coming, book your hotel reservation, and then cancel it later on? You screw the bride and groom with empty rooms they have to pay for themselves unless they can get another guest staying elsewhere to move into your vacated room. And depending on how long you wait to bail out, it may be too late for anybody else to switch hotels without losing their own deposits. It's a pretty lousy thing to do to your friends unless you intend to pay for your empty hotel room in its entirety.

Also, most destination weddings have more than just a wedding and reception. There's a welcome party, there's a rehearsal dinner or beach party, there might be special activities like tours they've planned and paid for, plus the expense of your wedding dinner that you're not going to be there to eat. And guess what? There are no leftovers or to-go bags at weddings so if you don't show up, nobody gets your food. What does all that add up to? Of course, it varies based on what sort of spread the bride and groom have chosen but in general, you're costing the couple somewhere between $400 and $600 per person. And they have to pay at least 30 days ahead for out-of-town events so if you cancel anywhere after the two-month out mark, it's highly likely they're going to have to suck up the loss for whatever they paid for you to attend their wedding, even though you bailed out. No refunds once final numbers are submitted.

There's an emotional aspect of skipping your friends' wedding too -- and I'm not talking about YOU feeling bad about not being there. I mean that when a good friend cancels with little notice (or just doesn't even bother to show up and give a really lame excuse afterward), it truly hurts the bride and groom. Deeply and seriously. Like as in you might never have the same kind of relationship again if you don't find a way to make things right.

Brides and grooms all have tight budgets and strict guest lists and you were important enough to have been invited -- and you accepted, a de facto PROMISE to attend. How can they not wonder what was more important to you than celebrating their most important day of their lives so far? You'd better have a really good reason. Because not only will they be seriously annoyed with you, but everybody else in your crew who knows you blew off the wedding will be gossiping about it too.

And if that's not enough to make you cringe at the thought of skipping a friend's wedding, you should read this story about the angry bride who sent her MIA guests a bill for not showing up. I don't endorse the practice, but I think it's hilarious!

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!