One of my mother's favorite things to remember and tell me about her own wedding day was that the church was full to the brim. She had so many guests come to the wedding that there was standing-room only, even though it was raining outside.
My fiance is in his early thirties. He was tons of friends from high school coming to our wedding, even though he hasn't seen them, talked to them, or even been back to his hometown in almost a decade. Even some of those friends' parents, brothers, and sisters are coming with their own separate families!
I've been to a couple weddings in the past year of people of my own age group getting married. There were a lot of empty seats at both the weddings and receptions. In both cases whole tables were empty because people who had RSVP'd decided they just didn't want to show up, even if they were in the same town as the wedding during that day.
The other day I got an RSVP from one of my two best friends from high school (I graduated from there in 2007). She simply declined both the rehearsal dinner and wedding without so much as a "wish I could come!" She has known about this wedding for an entire year (I personally told her) and works as a bank teller: I'm sure she could have gotten one day off from work if she had wanted to come. I knew we had drifted since high school, but I had assumed she would want to be present at one of the most important events of my life.
I'm a little opinionated, but I would like to believe that overall I'm a likeable person. What is the deal? I wonder if low attendance has something to do with Facebook: that people no longer need to go to events because they have a much easier, less expensive, lazier outlet to see what others are up to and then look at the pictures once they're posted?
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today. The RSVP's are just coming in and way more of my FH's friends are coming than mine. It sounds petty, I know, but I still feel kind of sad.
I cannot read the minds of the specific people who have declined or who are dragging their feet. I can only make a few observations.
You mentioned your mother's wedding. Chances are she and I are close in age. I am 57 and got married in 1976.
When I got married, our wedding was relatively simple. I got married in my parents' back yard, then had a reception following. We served cake, punch, champagne, finger food and other goodies, but not a full meal. There was no dancing and just background music.
My registry was short and sweet. I registered a china and a silver pattern, nothing else. Some bought from the china/silver registry, others gave cash and others gave us gifts they picked out apart from our china/silver registry. I'd guess the average gift was about $25 or so.
Obviously, the wedding was in my home town. Most of those attending were my parents' friends. There were a few hometown friends of mine, but not many, nor did I expect any of my grad school friends to travel to my wedding. None of my grad school friends had the time, nor money, to make such a trip.
Our wedding was in our backyard, but other weddings I attended in the 1960s and 1970s were in the local church with a cake, punch, champagne and finger food reception in the church fellowship hall. I never saw a wedding reception with a full meal until I was 15 and in Mexico. ("What's this? They are serving DINNER? Huh?")
Compare and contrast with the weddings one sees today. The Destination Wedding where guests are expected to pay for a trip to Mexico or the Caribbean is common. Receptions are lavish, with full dinner, live bands and dancing. The pre-wedding parties are similarly lavish, with multiple showers, and bachelorette/bachelor parties in Las Vegas.
Registries are chock-full of expensive things way beyond the classic china and silver. $400 vacuum cleaner? iPhones? (and my personal non-favorite) Honeymoon registries? No longer is it OK to spend a week in a hotel two states over. No, we have to go to Bali or Cancun, flying first class, and get our wedding guests to pay for our scuba lessons.
Do all these over-the-top things pertain to your wedding? No, I'm guessing not. However, some of your friends might have been burned in the past by accepting a wedding invitation, then getting hit up again and again for wedding-related expenses. It could be that Susie or Heather said "Never again. I cannot afford to attend another wedding."
This is the flip side to the gimme-pig greedy extravagent weddings. People are burned out.
Finally, I think a lot has to do with the Great Recession. When you are six months behind in your house payments, are under risk of losing a job and your car has been repossessed, it's hard to think of spending money on clothes, travel, multiple present-giving parties and wedding presents.
There's a lot of truth in the movie Bridesmaids. I took my husband to see it. We both laughed and laughed. He hates weddings, and still laughed at the movie.
And it could be that you've just drifted apart from that friend and she made the judgment call not to come.
RSVPing yes but not showing on the other hand is rude and displays a lack of manners if it wasn't for an unforeseen emergency, etc.
We had three friends of 150 that RSVPd yes not make our wedding. He called me the day before because his mother was in congestive heart failure and they were trying to get her admitted into the hospital - OBVIOUSLY I told him to take care of his mom, take care of himself and not to worry about my wedding. Another couple, well, she went into labor that morning. LOL I knew that was a possibility and thought it was neat that her daughter was born when I was walking down the aisle.
Another gf originally RSVPd yes, but then had to change her RSVP - she called ASAP so that I could let the caterer know, and I appreciated it.
A number of people came and were unable to give a gift - I could have cared less - I was happy to have them there to share our day. But I know that a lot of people feel obligated to bring a gift and won't come because of that.
Personally, I know that I get an invitation, look to see if I have any conflicts and then decide if it's feasible and even if I want to attend. Cost, travel, time, conflicts and desire all come into play. But if I RSVP yes, I'm going to be there unless there's an emergency.