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The 7 Reasons Why Guests Aren't Coming to Your Wedding

Receiving a lot of "no"s? Turns out there are some surprising reasons why your guests are declining your wedding invite.

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If you’ve sent out your invitations, you probably have wedding RSVP etiquette on the brain. For those couples who want a smaller wedding but had to invite more guests to appease parents and in-laws, “no” RSVPs can be a blessing in disguise. For others, receiving a lot of “no” responses to their wedding invites can be a total downer. If you’re in the latter category and are receiving a lot of declined invitations, you might be wondering why. Well, we asked 1,000 people why they said “no” to a wedding invitation and are sharing the top reasons with you to help you get inside your guests’ brains.

Check out the responses to our wedding RSVP etiquette survey to find out why people RSVP “no” to a wedding invitation.  

Reason #1: The location was too difficult to travel to.

If you’re hosting a destination wedding in a far-off location, you’re probably already aware that you may end up hosting fewer guests because they can’t make the trip. It’s a lot easier for someone to attend a wedding in their hometown as they won’t have to take time off work and pay for travel and accommodations. In our survey, 38 percent of respondents said that they declined a wedding invite because it was just too time-consuming to travel to the wedding’s destination. This is definitely something to consider if you've dreamed of hosting a destination wedding but also want all of your family members and friends to be in attendance—you might not be able to have it both ways.

Reason #2: Attending this wedding will be just too expensive.

The average guest spends over $750 to attend a wedding—that includes purchasing their own attire, buying a wedding gift, travel, accommodations, food, and more. While you’re probably doing everything you can to make your wedding affordable for your loved ones (booking hotel room blocks, for example), for some people it still might be too much. Turns out that 32 percent of our respondents decided against attending a wedding because it would just be too expensive to do so.  

Reason #3: The guest doesn’t know the couple that well.

We’ve all received those surprising wedding invitations from people we don’t know all that well—a college acquaintance we haven’t seen since graduation, a former co-worker, your old neighbor’s son, etc. While it might not seem like great wedding RSVP etiquette to decline an invitation simply because you're not super-close with the couple, it’s something that 31 percent of our respondents have done. If a guest won’t know anyone at the wedding and know they won’t have a fun time, there’s a high likelihood they’ll just say no to your invite. This is certainly something to be mindful of as you’re creating your guest list—you don’t have to invite everyone you’ve ever met, as people you don’t have a close relationship with may not want to attend your big day anyway.  

Reason #4: The wedding is scheduled for a holiday weekend.

Many couples like hosting their wedding on holiday weekends. Since their guests will have an extra day off anyway, it will be easier for them to travel to their wedding destination. Win-win, right? Well, not exactly. Many people have longstanding plans for holiday weekends (for example, they always spend Labor Day at their family’s lake house), and might not want to skip them to attend your big day. In fact, 17 percent of respondents said they said “no” to a wedding invitation because it was scheduled for a holiday weekend and they didn’t want to change their plans. So if you’re on the process of setting a date, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of hosting it over a holiday weekend. Sure it might be convenient for you, but will most of your guests be able to join you?

Reason #5: The guest won’t know anyone else attending the wedding.

Part of the fun of attending a wedding is reconnecting with friends and/or family members. If you’re inviting guests who won’t know anyone at your wedding (that one co-worker from your old job, for example), be aware that they might decline your invite because they’re concerned they won’t have fun. This is particularly true if the guest is single. Sure, for some (extroverted) people, attending a wedding where they don’t know anyone can be an exciting adventure and a chance to make new friends, but others may prefer to just send a gift and skip the event.

Reason #6: You didn’t invite their kids.

It is totally okay to host an adults-only wedding—but be aware that some of your guests with young ones might decline your invite because of childcare issues. This is especially true if you’re inviting guests with newborns or extremely young children. In fact, 11 percent of our respondents declined a wedding invitation because they couldn’t bring their kids. Again, it is your and your future spouse’s decision whether or not to invite little ones—just be aware that friends or family members with kids might no-show.  

Reason #7: You didn’t give them a plus-one.

One of the biggest wedding RSVP etiquette questions engaged couples face is whether or not to invite unmarried guests with plus-ones. We’ve discussed this at length before, but if you’re not planning on inviting plus-ones, know that some guests might choose to skip your big day. Five percent of our survey respondents have declined a wedding invitation because they weren’t invited with a date. This may end up being the case if you’re inviting only a few single guests—they might not love being surrounded by couples while attending your big day and take offense at not getting a plus-one.

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