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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redK8... redK8blueSt8

I'd much rather a person that did NOT support me getting married to stay home. 

This question rings with the underlining question "I want to do X. How can I do X and not suffer any unpleasant consequences of doing X." 

Well sorry, life just doesn't work that way. If you don't support the couple getting married, you shouldn't go to the wedding to be SUPPORTIVE! of them getting married. Yes, feelings may get hurt. But you don't support their marriage so feelings are already hurt. Going, being a hypocrite, and a damper on the couple's big day is worse than declining on the invitation.

nonmember avatar Michael

It also depends on the number of the marriage. If its #2 or higher my interest level is a lot less than for marriage #1.

curly... curlycues

I (and a great many others) didn't go to a close family members wedding because she was marrying a guy who just got out of prison for molesting small children. I wouldn't suggest everyone just" suck it up". There are reasons sometimes.

Snapp... SnappleQueen

If you don't approve, don't go. 

tbruc... tbrucemom

If there is a legitimate reason I'd say don't go. If it's just you don't particularly care for the person you should go to support your family member.

Krist... KristaWhite

Although it may seem like a big conflict in your head -- you love your friend, but hate the relationship -- your friendship with the bride/groom is more important than your approval of their nuptials. Go support your friend, they will appreciate your presence whether it works out or not. 

nonmember avatar honeydipped

I did not approve of my cousins marriage to her gay girlfriend, but guess what???? She didnt ask for my approval. LOL

But by extending me an invitation, what she is asking is for my love, and support as her family in which case i would do everything i can to show i love her

So, as they exchanged vows i excused my self discreetly to the restroom. For twenty minutes.LOL. then i returned and integrated into the dispersed reception crowd as if i was never gone. And when she made her rounds to greet her guest. I didnt. say" What a beautiful wedding, congratulations"........ but what i said was" you are a beautiful bride, " and hugged her tightly.

You. See her wedding wasn't the time or place to voice my opinion, but i wanted to show her the love of God, which is greater.

She and her partner will be in my prayers. Becausr God hates the sin, NOT the sinner. And who am I to JUDGE!!!!

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