If a couple is having a special day and you want to be involved, the question often comes up if it’s rude to invite yourself to a wedding.
While a more traditional person might think that this is never appropriate, the answer is actually that it depends. Sometimes it may be perfectly fine while other times, you may be way out of line. This is an area where you have to use your judgment ultimately.
It is considered rude to show up at a wedding without invitation if the event is planned professionally or tends to be a more formal wedding. Chances that they forgot someone are very small. If one would like to attend anyway it is better to ask several weeks in advance.
However, consider the scenarios here to get an idea of when it may be a good or poor idea to do this.
Why People Invite Themselves
Weddings may be as formal or as informal as you like but there are times when the couple may not explicitly invite you to something but be happy that you came. This could happen for several reasons.
Maybe they forgot to tell you or assume that the invitation was obvious. While usually not common with more structured or formal weddings, we all have friends who are not good planners. They probably didn’t even send out invitations or may have used word-of-mouth to invite their guests.
While Miss Manners wouldn’t approve, we know that these couples are very casual and may not be detail-oriented, causing them to not have invited you in the first place.
Even when this is the case though, you may want to touch base with other wedding guests or the couple themselves. They may have casually mentioned the event to you and expected that you would take this as an invitation.
However, you should be aware that going to an event can cause awkwardness if the event isn’t as casual as you thought.
For example, there may be assigned seats at the reception or the couple may have only budgeted for a certain number of guests.
The key to going to a wedding without an explicit invitation is checking ahead of time and being gracious regardless of the answer.
Starting with how you’re excited about the couple’s big day. Mention that you know not every person can come to the event but state that you’d like to celebrate the couple and were wondering if it would be possible to attend. Follow this statement up by saying that you know event planning is difficult and you’re happy to celebrate them in person or from afar.
This approach will reduce any awkwardness and give the person the ability to tell you if you aren’t invited to the wedding. Regardless of their response though, you’ll have your answer and, likely, this approach won’t offend.
Why You Shouldn’t Invite Yourself
Although every wedding is going to be different, there are reasons why you may want to consider not inviting yourself, even if you think that it might be fine.
The first reason is that most people would consider this to be rude or presumptuous. Inviting yourself to events can be seen as overstepping your boundaries.
Before considering whether you should invite yourself to a wedding, ask yourself first how traditional the couple tends to be. If they have a more structured wedding planned or if they are going to be having a more formal event, it’s more likely that you weren’t invited rather than simply being missed. Often couples want to invite people but may not be able to do this as they have limitations on the number of guests.
Another reason why you may not want to invite yourself is that you could put the couple in an awkward position.
We all have several people-pleasers in our lives. These are individuals who may have difficulty saying no, even if they don’t want to be agreeable. If you ask them for almost anything, they may not be able to turn you down. This is why it helps to know the couple and also their personality.
Ask yourself that, if you request an invitation, will they be able to say no or will they feel obligated to include you just because you asked? If you feel like this is the case, then it’s probably best to avoid asking altogether.
You may also want to consider the timing of your request. Wedding planning doesn’t happen overnight and many pieces have to fall into place for the event to go smoothly. You may want to consider when you ask for an invitation.
For example, asking the week before the wedding is probably going to be a no, even if the couple just happened to forget you. However, if they’re still in the early planning stages of the wedding, then they may be happy to add one more person to the guest list. Some couples may have wanted to invite you but simply forgot to add you to the guest list.
Finally, one area where it’s probably never fine to invite yourself is a destination wedding. Couples who choose to tie the knot in a different country or location that’s not convenient for any of their guests are probably doing so for a reason.
Maybe they want to avoid having many people at the event. They may also prefer to avoid any drama related to wedding planning and prefer to have the event away from people in their lives that could contribute to this.
Since getting to a destination wedding would involve multiple steps, you probably wouldn’t do this without significant planning. It’s never a good idea to show up when this happens though.
Do Your Homework
Before you decide whether or not you should invite yourself, it may be a good idea to do some digging ahead of time.
If you know anyone at the wedding party or who is involved, reach out to that person for their opinion. Ask about the wedding and look for details such as size, formality, and other factors that can influence your next steps.
For example, some couples may want to have a very small wedding and only invite immediate family. This probably means that you shouldn’t ask for an invitation as the answer will most likely be no.
Another way to get an idea of the event is to talk to the bride or groom themselves. Even if you don’t ask for an invitation at the time, ask them to share about their big day.
Learning more about how they’re planning the wedding is going to give you an idea if it would be appropriate to invite yourself. This is often a chance for the bride to groom to explain to you why you were or weren’t invited.
They may apologize for not inviting you but then go into the details of why you weren’t on the list. When they tell you this information, see this as the door to your coming being firmly shut. Once they explain why you didn’t get an invitation, take this graciously and remark that you’re just happy they’re getting married.
Not only will this help your relationship stay strong, but it will also be a better way to move forward as friends.
Consider an Alternate Method
One of the ways that you could get an invitation without being too rude is by offering to help on the wedding day. Keep in mind that this will be more of a job and less celebrating, but many couples need some assistance for the event.
They may need help setting up the event, managing areas such as the guest book, and other small details. Even things like cutting and serving the cake all have to be done and managed by someone!
Depending on the formality of the occasion, the couple may already have people to serve in all of these roles. However, don’t assume that they don’t need any assistance.
You can also try to bring yourself into the game as a support for the photographer, so that he has to edit fewer photos afterward, for example.
One simple but effective way to reach out for an invitation is by offering to help out on the occasion or at accompanying events like the bachelorette party. Mention that you enjoy helping with these types of events and wanted to reach out if they need any assistance.
If your offer is turned down, then that’s fine as well.
However, don’t be shy to ask.
Most people find that they need additional assistance on the day and are always willing to have an extra set of hands. While you may be going as more of a worker than simply a guest, having a job can often make the wedding more fun.
Be Prepared for No
Although inviting yourself to a wedding isn’t always rude, you should always be prepared for being told no when asking for an invitation.
You should not just show up to the event as this may lead to your being asked to leave.
However, after evaluating the scenario, consider whether you can ask for an invitation. If this seems appropriate, then consider reaching out for an invite and expressing your desire to attend and celebrate with the couple.
After you’ve done this, you’ll have your answer and can plan accordingly. When done well, it’s not a bad idea to invite yourself to the event.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.