Should You Skip a Family Wedding if You Don't Approve of the Marriage?

skip family wedding

When word got out that Mark Wahlberg wouldn't be attending his brother Donnie's wedding to Jenny McCarthy this past weekend, rumors began swirling that the actor and his wife weren't big fans of the bride. Though Mark sent his congratulations via an Instagram video, citing his daughter's birthday as the reason for missing the festivities, he still came under fire for not being there to support his bro.

And earlier this summer, Rob Kardashian took a pass on going to sister Kim's nuptials. 

Whatever their excuses, it got me thinking: Is it ever okay to skip the wedding of a family member? What if you feel the bride is more excited about her gown than her groom? (I've been to that wedding!) Or what if you believe the husband-to-be has a roving eye that will dissolve the marriage before your gift check clears? (Attended that one, too!) Should you suck it up, smile, and congratulate the happy couple? Or can you politely decline without starting World War III? 


More from The Stir: 7 Rules for Calling Off Your Wedding at the Last Minute

"It's one thing to skip a wedding because you have a good reason -- let's say your kids are graduating from college," Lizzie Post of The Emily Post Institute explains, "but it's another if you're not going because you don't support the union."

The great-great-granddaughter of good taste guru Emily Post says that in cases where a family member has reservations about the marriage, chances are the conversation about those concerns has already happened. Even though they're aware of those feelings, the bride or groom is still choosing to move forward and, at that point, Post advises that relatives and close friends should "zip it and be supportive."

If a guest still feels they don't want to attend, a simple, "I'm sorry I can't make it" will suffice.  

"It does no good to say anything this late in the game," she says. 

But while skeptical guests expect weddings like that to be nerve-wracking, according to Post, in the end, they frequently say how meaningful it was to see friends and family support the couple on their big day.

"They often find that it's not nearly as uncomfortable as they expected," Post says.  

Etiquette experts also shared a few tips for dealing with the special occasion with tact and diplomacy -- for both the bride and groom in question and their guests.

RSVP Either Way

"If you cannot attend a wedding, make sure to return your RSVP card promptly with a heartfelt note wishing the couple the best," says Jamie Miles, editor of "If you're invited and able to join, make an effort to attend the engagement party, bridal shower, or bachelorette party." 

Send an Invitation

If you're the bride or groom, extend an invitation even if you think the guest might not come around, Post suggests. 

"This lets them know, 'I want you to be there,'" she says. 

And if you're the one who'd prefer not to attend, avoid saying things like, "Don't send me an invitation!" which comes off as both rude and selfish, Post says.

Give a Gift

If you choose not to go to the wedding of a close friend or relative because you don't support the relationship but you still got an invitation, you should send a gift, according to Post.

"It doesn't have to be a big or expensive item," she advises. "It doesn't have to come from the registry. It could be something as simple as a picture frame with the date of the wedding engraved." 

Do you think it's ever appropriate to skip a family member's wedding? 

Image @Corbis/ArielSkelley

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