Courtesy of Tumbalina Studio
A full roster of wedding events requiring the couple's attendance—from bridal showers and bachelor and bachelorette parties to welcome dinners and farewell brunches—can overwhelm even the most social soon-to-be newlyweds. So, do you have to attend every event? Ultimately, it'll be your choice, but etiquette experts strongly advise against skipping a party thrown in your honor. "If the couple are the ones being honored, it is their obligation to attend," says Diane Gottsman, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and found of The Protocol School of Texas. "It's much like throwing a birthday party for someone and the person arrives later to collect their gifts but did not attend the celebration." But if you're uncomfortable as the center of attention—or simply over-scheduled during your wedding weekend—you can gracefully bow out of an event in a few special situations.
If it's not officially part of your wedding celebration, you can skip it.
Other members of your family or bridal party may host smaller get-togethers during your wedding weekend—a brunch with your sorority sisters, a barbecue for your dad's cousins, an after-party for your out-of-town coworkers—and since these aren't specifically planned to celebrate the couple, it's acceptable for the bride and/or groom to take a pass if needed. "Guests will understand that the couple has a lot to do the weekend of their wedding," says Anne Chertoff, wedding expert at Beaumont Etiquette. "If one of the couple's parents are hosting a celebration over the wedding weekend for their relatives and friends, and it's not an official wedding event such as the rehearsal dinner or welcome party, the bride or groom do not have to attend—but they may want to make an appearance if they can."
If you didn't want the party (and your parents insisted), you can skip it.
Less extroverted couples can limit their wedding events to a small rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception, but enthusiastic parents don't always fall in line. If your parents or in-laws are firm about adding pre-wedding parties or a morning-after meal, you can choose not to participate as long as it's clear to guests that you're not hosting and that you might not attend. "If the parents insist on holding a welcome party or post-wedding brunch the couple may choose to stop by if they can, but the invitation to the event may want to be worded in a way as to not make it seem that the couple will be there," says Chertoff.
If your travel plans interfere, you can skip it.
Don't feel obligated to plan your honeymoon departure around an after-party or a brunch, says Chertoff: If your post-wedding travel plans include leaving right after the reception or early the next morning, then ask a family member to step in to oversee any events you'll miss. "Guests will understand if the couple does not attend the post-wedding brunch," says Chertoff. "The parents of the couple can be the hosts, thanking guests for attending the wedding." If your schedule allows, stop by for a quick cup of coffee before checking out of the hotel, but your official responsibilities end after the reception. "It's appropriate for a couple to say hello and goodbye to their guests at the post-wedding brunch if there is one," says Chertoff. "However, if they choose to sleep in or fly out early they may choose to make a quick appearance or not attend at all. If they wish to say their goodbyes at the end of the reception, they may do so."