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How to Deal with Wedding No-Shows

We’ve all seen it. The escort cards that remain untouched long after the reception has begun, symbolizes the guests who, for whatever reason, couldn’t make the wedding.

Photo: Mandi Mitchell Photography

We’ve all seen it. The escort cards that remain untouched long after the reception has begun, symbolizes the guests who, for whatever reason, couldn’t make the wedding. By now, you’ve probably heard about the couple who sent no-show guests a bill post-wedding—probably not the best way to handle things if you want to keep your friendships and family relationships intact.

So what should you do about those last-minute no-show wedding guests? Check out these words of advice.

Assign a Day-Of Point of Contact
In the story of the couple who billed their no-show guests, the guests did not want to disturb the couple on their wedding day, and so did not notify anyone that they couldn’t attend. To avoid this, assign an emergency point of contact for your wedding day; this can be a bridesmaid, wedding planner, or relative. Post the person’s phone number on your wedding website as a guest contact for wedding day emergencies. That way, you’ll at least have some notice if someone can’t make it.

Be Prepared to Make Adjustments
Your venue and your caterer are probably quite used to thinking on their feet and making quick adjustments to place settings and table arrangements. Make sure your “emergency contact” is in touch with your caterer to see if they can quickly rearrange the tables so there aren’t empty seats. And if it does end up that there is an empty seat or two? No one will care, we promise.

Don’t Sweat It
Don’t let a few no-shows be a source of anxiety on your wedding day. Focus on your guests who are able to attend and celebrate with you, rather than thinking about those who aren’t there. There can be a variety of unforeseen reasons why guests may not be able to attend, so be gracious. If someone asks you, “Aren’t you mad that so-and-so didn’t show up?” just simply say, “It’s unfortunate, but I’m happy to be celebrating with all of you.” And yes, every no-show is a hit to your budget, but it’s just one of the risks and pitfalls of being a host.

Reach Out—and Be Kind
If you do not hear from your no-show guests with an explanation, you can (and should) reach out to them. Wait until after you return from your honeymoon, or a week or two after the wedding so that you’ll be cool, calm, and collected when you make the call. Let them know that you were so disappointed that they couldn’t attend your wedding and hope everything is okay. Hopefully they have an explanation—an illness, a sick relative, canceled childcare, etc. Even if you feel that their explanation isn’t genuine or truthful, you still should be “the bigger person,” and act as understanding as you possibly can be. And, oh yeah, don’t send them a bill.

If There’s a Gift, Say Thanks
Even if a guest can’t attend at the last minute, they should still send a gift. If this is the case, write them a thank-you note even if your feelings are hurt by their absence. Just let them know that you appreciate the thoughtful gift and are sad they couldn’t attend your wedding—again, be polite and gracious. And if you don’t get a gift right away, remember that some people follow the old etiquette that you have up to a year post-wedding to send a gift. And if a considerable amount of time goes by, and you don’t get a gift, unfortunately, there isn’t much recourse. Be grateful for what you have received, for your happy marriage, and do your best to move on.