A couple of years ago, I was invited to a couple’s wedding who I’d become fast friends with. They were having an intimate destination wedding, somewhere where the sun was shining and the weather was sweet, and it felt really good that they wanted me there.
They were cool, fun, and total #relationshipgoals, and I loved being around them. Though I was low on funds, I said I’d be there and wouldn’t miss it for the world when I was invited, and I meant it. I was so glad that I did, because shortly after I RSVP’d, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Usually, people groan about being one, but I had only ever been one for family members, and this bride asking me to be hers meant she was as into me (friendship-wise) as I was into her.
As the date got closer, the rates for booking the trip to one of the wealthiest islands kept rising. I also had to order my bridesmaid dress, plan a bachelorette party, and make sure I had enough money for both a wedding gift and meals, taxi’s etc. while there. All of this was on top of paying for rent, groceries and fitness on a freelance writer’s budget.
So when I got a big paycheque after I hustled like no one’s business, I immediately booked my flight ticket, setting me back a cool $1500, ordered my bridesmaid dress, and reserved a suite at Four Seasons for the bachelorette party. Except as the date loomed, I wasn’t getting any freelance gigs, and I was struggling financially. I wanted to bail out (so I could afford to eat and make rent,) but after hearing a story from the couple about the groom’s best friend not booking a ticket because, “He doesn’t have enough money,” I realized their approval meant more to me than eating a healthy balanced diet, or really at all, the 6 weeks leading up to the wedding.
Looking back, I wish I spoke up… I wish I had the courage and strength to politely decline the invite, in an honest and authentic way.
Looking back, I wish I spoke up. I wish I told them how grateful I was to not only be invited, but to be asked to be a bridesmaid as well. I wish I had the courage and strength to politely decline the invite, in an honest and authentic way. Because though I had a one-off hefty cheque, I could’ve used that for rent/security for the next couple of months and to afford to eat/get teas while I took advantage of café wifi’s.
But that’s the lesson I learned after I continued to RSVP to functions out of guilt or FOMO, which often resulted in me being miserable anyways.
Had I told them that freelancing has its ups and downs in terms of getting assignments (and getting paid on time, which is a whole other story!) and that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the wedding, I have no doubt they would’ve understood and furthermore, appreciated my forthrightness. If I could turn back time, I’d do just that, and either offer to take them out for drinks to toast to their nuptials, or send them a bottle within my price range for them to enjoy together.
Instead I spent the time leading up to the wedding in mental and emotional discomfort. I was scrounging for change, I was worried about how I would even be able to afford the hotel/feeding myself while out in the tropics, let alone how I could afford getting them a wedding present. I had to count pennies while there, likely looked cheap as fuck, had a card declined and couldn’t afford a gift on top of the $2000+ I already spent.
At the end of the day, your friends get it. Whether you don’t want to attend something because of small politics (like an ex spouse being there, uncomfortable family dynamics, etc.), financial woes, or whatever reason makes you feel like it’s not for you, then there’s no shame in that. RSVP no. Send your kind regards. Be honest. Leave it at that.
The shame, instead, comes from not speaking up. It comes from doing something that isn’t organic. It comes from putting yourself in an uncomfortable position for fear of what others think. It comes from not listening to your gut instinct, from acting on guilt, from wondering what people will think or say if you’re not there. That, my friends, is no way to live.
When invited to a wedding, a cocktail party, an event, or even a BBQ, never feel pressure to show up for fear of offending the host. If they’re a true friend, they’ll understand.
When invited to a wedding, a cocktail party, an event, or even a BBQ, never feel pressure to show up for fear of offending the host. If they’re a true friend, they’ll understand. Sure they might be offended, and of course they want you there, but if you go and you’re miserable or anxious and can’t even enjoy yourself, you’re not really there as it is and that just brings everyone down.
You do you. Just RSVP in a timely manner, and if you pass, send them your well wishes for the event and a ‘thank you for thinking of me’ line via email or text. More tension comes from doing something you don’t want to do than comes from speaking up.
Do you have any advice on how to graciously decline an invite? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.