It's so exciting when a friend gets married, but sometimes the calendar just doesn't work out. What's a friend to do when they know they can't make it to such a milestone event? Our experts weigh in.
When you know that you won't be able to attend a friend's wedding, let them know as soon as possible. Begin by giving them a call as soon as you're aware of the conflict and letting them know you won't be able to make it. That's right, pick up the phone — now isn't the time for a text or an email, unless you're in a different country and getting on the phone is a real challenge. If you find out before the invitations have been mailed, you could save them the postage (and the cost of printing that additional invite!).
If you've gotten your invitation in the mail or they opted to send you one anyway, include a personal note in with your RSVP card. While traditional etiquette states that you're not required to send a gift if you can't attend, if the two of you are close, you might want to send something to honor the occasion, anyway. (This applies whether or not you got an invitation in the mail. If she's one of your best friends, you're probably as excited about her wedding as she is and should celebrate accordingly!)
While you don't have to go into details about why you can't make it, you should give a little bit of an explanation. Let her know that you've got a huge work trip that weekend, or that your family's biannual reunion happens to fall on that same weekend in July, otherwise you'd be there in a heartbeat!
And what if you've already RSVP'd yes and booked your flight, then find out you can't attend at the last minute? The most important thing you can do is call. Whether or not you're attending will affect the seating chart and meal orders, so give your friend as much advanced notice as possible. You also don't want her looking for you at the reception and worried or upset when she can't find you!