The Right Way To Decline A Wedding Invitation Because Of COVID-19
Supporting a friend or family member as they get married is a special life event. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the potential health risks of attending a wedding are high. Choosing not to go doesn't make you a bad person, but approaching the conversation can be difficult.
To understand the proper wedding etiquette and get advice for delivering news sensitively, mbg spoke with a wedding planner and an emotional expert. Here's how they recommend declining a wedding during the pandemic.
How to approach the conversation.
Once you decide you don't feel comfortable attending a wedding, the best thing to do is call the bride or groom and be honest. "Times have changed. You likely won't be the only guest in this position, and that's OK," wedding planner Mindy Weiss tells mbg. "Don't make up an excuse; be honest, and then send a wedding gift," she adds.
We can't control the way other people will feel or react to hard news. "But we can do our best to be kind, sensitive, and authentic as we deliver our hard news," psychotherapist and emotions experts Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, says.
Here's an example of a straightforward but thoughtful delivery:
I’m so sad to tell you this, but I have to miss your wedding. I just don’t feel comfortable gathering during the pandemic. I’m so sorry, and I hope you understand. Just know I love and support you, and I hope your wedding day is incredible.
What if you're in the wedding party?
Declining a wedding invite as the guest is one thing, but deciding not to go when you're a part of the wedding is a whole other obstacle.
"Start by doing your research and getting informed," Weiss says. "You have to see what precautions are in place at the event. Get all the facts before making your final decision."
Some couples may require all guests to get COVID-19 tests prior to the wedding, and venues may enforce social distancing, mask wearing, and temperature checks. If you've done the research and still don't feel comfortable, it's better to just be honest.
"Ultimately, this is about health, not friendship," Weiss says. "If you're in the wedding, then you're close enough with that person to be forthright... This will be a difficult conversation, but you have to be honest and protect yourself however you feel most comfortable."
How to deal after the conversation.
"Declining an invitation can bring up a wide variety of emotions depending on the person," Jacobs-Hendel says. "Some people may feel disappointed, sad, angry, or rejected. Others will be perfectly fine and understand."
After delivering the news, give them time to process. Planning a wedding and having those plans derailed because of COVID-19 can be stressful. Finding out many of their friends and family won't be there to celebrate with them can also be disheartening. This may cause them to lash out at you, but eventually they should understand and come around.
Regardless, it's important to make the decision based on your comfort levels, not their response. "Do your research before making any decisions, and remember that you come first—your mind, body, and health," Weiss says.