How to Handle an Upsetting or Unexpected "No" RSVP

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In a perfect wedding planning world, every single person you'd like to be present on your big day will be there with bells on—end of story. But as you may have figured out by now, that world can, at times, be unpredictable, and sometimes even disappointing. If you find yourself feeling upset while opening a particular RSVP card, we understand. Here's how to handle an unexpected or upsetting "no" response while wedding planning.

Put Things in Perspective

First thing's first, before you react—think. Will this guest's presence (or absence) affect your wedding day in the slightest? If "no," then move on. If you think the answer is "yes," then reassess. Unless this person is in your bridal party or is one of your closest friends or family members, it's unlikely they are intended to be a huge part of your day (if they do fall into one of those categories, then a conversation should certainly ensue).

If it's something as simple as, "I can't believe they aren't coming to mine, I went to theirs!" you need to refocus your energies elsewhere. As much as we'd all like to be able to control every aspect of our weddings, it's simply not possible—especially with variables as unpredictable as people themselves.

Don't Immediately React

It may be tempting to shoot a text to someone that asks something along the lines of, "EXCUSE ME, WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU CAN'T COME TO MY WEDDING?" This is not the way to go. Don't make any communications or decisions in the moments, or even hours that follow an upsetting RSVP. Talk it over with your partner—they may be able to share some insight or perspective on the situation.

It's also important, as with many disappointments in life, to sleep on it or let it simmer before discussing it with anyone outside of the situation. You may find yourself in a better headspace where it doesn't affect you as much, or even at all.

Be Respectful

While your feelings may be hurt, remember that 99 percent of the time, a "no" response is not made out of malice. Typically, it's due to a scheduling conflict, or a personal matter where depending on your relationship with the guest, you may not even be privy to. Keeping this in mind, be respectful. While your emotions may be high, try not to discuss this with people outside of your partner or your closest family or friends. For all you know, their reason may be extremely private, and airing their business around is not in good taste. The golden rule of "treat them how you would want to be treated" can really come in handy here.


Most of the time, a "no" RSVP can and should be left alone, keeping in mind that when estimating a final headcount, it's the norm to estimate 20 to 25 percent of invited guests will decline. But if it's particularly upsetting or surprising that this guest will not be in attendance, you can weigh your options and decide if communicating with this particular guest is appropriate or not.

If you received a "no" by mail from a super close friend or family member, it may lend itself to a natural conversation. Something such as, "I just saw you RSVPd no, I hope everything is alright!" (IF heartfelt, that is) can also work in some cases. Whatever you do, do NOT press for a reason if the person is unwilling to give one on their own. It can feel intrusive and disrespectful.

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