How To Deal With The Fallout Of Declining A Mid-Pandemic Wedding Invitation

Olivia Harrison

We all want to be there to support our friends, especially during their biggest moments. Sadly, though, the coronavirus pandemic poses an obstacle to doing just that.

Back when COVID-19 first began to spread, many people were forced to re-schedule their weddings or have more intimate ceremonies on Zoom. Now that the pandemic is becoming increasingly politicized, some places are re-opening, and others are shutting back down, the question of whether to attend a large event such as a close friends’ wedding is much more complicated.

Choosing not to go to a wedding because you don’t feel safe or comfortable doing so during a global pandemic does not make you a bad friend, but the decision not to be present on this big day will likely come with some friendship fall-out and sad feelings on both sides. We spoke to Lizzie Post, etiquette expert and co-president of the Emily Post Institute, about how to handle declining this particular important invitation with civility and compassion.

When it comes to dealing with not being able to attend a close friend’s wedding because of coronavirus concerns, Post says, “A little bit of compartmentalization is helpful.” According to the expert, you have to be able to recognize, give space to, and communicate a few different things. Sit with the disappointment you feel about being too uncomfortable to go to the wedding and voice that very real disappointment to your friend. Then, you have to give your friend space to also be very disappointed and sad, especially since you’re probably not the only guest who has made the decision not to be at the wedding. Finally, you should keep a firm standing on your sound decision not to attend since it’s based on safety. “Those are three separate things you bring to the table with that conversation with your friend,” Post explains.

Taking time to think about all three of those things separately allows you to stand firm on your decision, offer sympathy and support for your friend, and save some space for your own emotions to be taken care of. Though your own feelings about the situation you’re being asked to put yourself in and your own disappointment about not being able to attend the wedding of a close friend are completely valid and deserve space, Post says they don’t have to be at the center of this conversation with your friend. “You can deliver the news, support your friend, and they will deal with it,” she advises.

In addition to offering support for your friend and allowing them to be upset about your decision not to attend the wedding, there are other ways to show you care in the lead up to the big day. Post suggests sending surprises like flowers or sweet treats as a way to make your friend feel special during this stressful yet exciting time. It might also be worth offering to send a video message to the newlyweds that can be played at the reception or viewed in private if you think that might be appropriate.

Post points out that even in the best of times, even the most rational people can be dramatic when it comes to their weddings. “I don’t know why, but when people are getting married, they often irrationally display their upsetness with other people,” the etiquette expert shares. The fact that you may be dealing with a bit of a bridezilla or groomzilla here is something to keep in mind. Post says, “Just give your friend permission to fall into that zone and give yourself a break.”

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