Why You Should Say No To More Weddings (Without Feeling Guilty)

Although multiple studies and research have cited that marriage has been on the decline since 1970, a 2020 survey by Pew Research Center found that the majority of Americans (54%) regard marriage as an important part of a fulfilled life. In other words, there's a good chance that at least half of your friends will tie the knot and you'll get an invitation to the wedding.


But while weddings are great for those getting married, sometimes being a wedding guest is simply too much. From financial challenges and emotional issues to a hectic schedule or simply not wanting to go, it's important to realize you have every right to say "no" to a wedding invitation. "We all have a zillion and one things we are juggling that must be considered each time we get an invitation to something," therapist Lia Avellino told Reader's Digest. "And while we may wish we could say yes to everything, we simply can't act on everything our heart feels, which is why it's important to learn how to politely say no."

Of course, turning down an invitation may be disappointing to the folks getting married, but that's for them to process and figure out. We're in the midst of a self-care era and saying no to things you either can't or don't want to do is your right. It's also something for which you should never feel guilty, no matter the reason for the "no."


You can't afford it

Weddings are big bucks. Not only does the average wedding cost between $29,000 and $35,000 depending on location, per Brides, but they're pricey for guests too. According to Bankrate, wedding guests typically spend roughly $600 for every wedding they attend — and these aren't the destination weddings that are in places like Paris or the Maldives. While one wedding per year might be doable, if you're at that age where just about everyone you know is getting married within a year or two, then that can lead to a financial crisis.


"People talk a lot about how expensive it is to organize a wedding — and it is — but sometimes the cost of attending is understated," said senior industry analyst at Bankrate, Ted Rossman. "It can really add up, especially if you're invited to multiple weddings in a given year."

You don't work just so you can attend wedding after wedding. You work so you can pay your bills and have something left over to do things you enjoy. Being strapped for cash because of someone else's event is no way to live. That's why it's more than okay to weigh the pros and cons of attending the weddings you've been invited to and politely say no to as many as you want.

Your friendship isn't what you consider wedding level

For some reason, there are those who, when they plan their wedding, invite everyone they know. Not just the people they know in the present, but even the people they went to grammar school with 20 years ago or someone in their apartment building they only say hello to once a week. Is it about getting a lot of gifts, thinking you're closer than you are, or do they really want to share the day with every person in their orbit? The reasons vary. But what this means for you is that you get to say no if you decide that your connection isn't wedding-level.


"My advice would be in trying to make the decision, gauge how well you know the person," lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann told HelloGiggles. "And it may not be how much time you spend with them, because we spend a lot of time with co-workers; it's more about your relationship and how close you are... If it's a distant relative, you can say no. If it's a relative that lives out of state and you haven't spent time with them in years, you can say no."

When you say no to this type of wedding invitation, you're also reserving your energy for the relationships in your life that really matter to you. Think of it this way: if you wouldn't invite them to your wedding, then you're more than allowed to bow out of theirs. By the time we're of marrying age, we tend to know who we want to invest in and who we don't.


You don't have the emotional bandwidth

There's a reason why we always see people crying at weddings in movies — because weddings are emotional. It's a union of two people who are committing to their love and their relationship forever, or at least that's the plan, and that brings out a lot of feelings for everyone involved. If you're not in a place where you're emotionally equipped to handle going to someone's wedding, for whatever reason, then say no.


"For example, if your former sister-in-law invites you to her wedding, you may not want to attend because you don't want to see your ex," etiquette expert Diane Gottsman told Brides. "Or perhaps you would say no to being a bridesmaid when you know you can't give the duty the responsibility or time it deserves." This again goes back to self-care. It's not wrong or rude to put your needs first to protect yourself. There's no shame in doing whatever you must do for your emotional and mental health

You want to choose how you spend your time

Our time here, as in being alive, is very, very short. One day you're 25 years old and living it up at a bar in the Lower East Side doing shots with a Timothée Chalamet look-alike, then you're 76 and it takes you 20 minutes to walk from one room to the next. Because of this, you should be able to choose what you do with your time for you and you alone. "It should feel like a choice you are making because you want to," therapist and friendship expert Miriam Kirmayer told The New York Times. "It also shouldn't come at the expense of your own well-being."


We need to normalize saying no to things. Because many of us fear what will happen if we say no, we tend to find ourselves in situations we shouldn't be in — like dropping $600 for the wedding of someone we barely know. Having boundaries that allow you the freedom to say no to a wedding invitation is a good thing and something for which feeling guilty shouldn't be part of the equation. While not every bride or groom will understand, that's on them. You're allowed to pick and choose how you'll spend your time — and that absolutely includes whether or not to attend other people's weddings.