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Is It Rude to Skip a Wedding Ceremony?

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Did you recently receive a wedding invitation that you don’t want to attend? People skip wedding receptions for lots of reasons! For example, you may have young kids that will have trouble keeping quiet at a formal ceremony. Or you could have a conflicting obligation you can’t get out of.

Is it rude to skip a wedding ceremony?

Skipping a wedding ceremony and whether it’s rude typically boils down to how close you are to the bride or groom. If you’re pretty close, then, sure, it will probably come across as rude. However, skipping the ceremony of a colleague or a distant relative is usually no big deal.

The bride and groom with a wedding bouquet, holding on hands and standing on wedding ceremony of the outdoor in the nature backyard

The way you skip the wedding ceremony matters. If you do it with class and give the wedding organizers plenty of heads up, then you shouldn’t sweat it too much! Going to the reception only is something plenty of people do.

Here are some friendly pointers to help you miss a wedding gracefully without ruffling any feathers.

How to Skip the Ceremony and Head to the Reception

The ceremony matters, but everyone is different. Some couples treat the ceremony as a prelude to the reception party. They want people there, but it’s not a big deal to them if someone can’t make it.

As long as you’re there to toast them, bring a nice present, and apologize nicely about missing the ceremony, it’s water under the boat.

Skipping, however, shouldn’t be a surprise to people at the ceremony. They could take offense if you’re close to the couple and didn’t say anything about skipping but then show up at the reception.

Have a valid reason and tell them ahead of time so that they can allocate the seats to someone else.

Here’s how to do it right:

RSVP Early

Respond to the invitation as early as possible. It’s much ruder if you back out of the wedding ceremony a day before the wedding. Give them plenty of advance notice so they can make any changes.

Many wedding invitations have options that let you RSVP for either the ceremony, reception, or both. If not, however, tell them if you’re still planning on making it to the reception.

Tell Them Why

It’s courteous to let them know why you can’t make it. But, of course, if you just don’t like the wedding ceremony and everything involved, tell them something that at least sounds valid. White lies aren’t a crime, especially when it’s someone’s wedding. Just make sure your fake excuse isn’t outlandish or anything.

If you have kids or some other good reason not to attend, be open with them, they’ll understand.

Make a Kind Gesture

Skipping a wedding ceremony will be a bigger deal to some than others. To ease the pain of missing their ceremony, make some kind gesture to make up for it. You can send flowers, buy them an extra gift, or do something else that is nice. Let them know that you would have loved to be there but just couldn’t make it.

When You Should Suck It Up and Go to the Ceremony

There are times in life when we have to do things we don’t like. For example, if you’re one of those who doesn’t like wedding ceremonies, you have to be reasonable about which ones you can skip and when you absolutely must go.

Skipping the wedding ceremony will cause unnecessary drama if the person getting married is a close friend or family member. In addition, the wedding couple will likely harbor some resentments about you not coming. Of course, they may say it’s okay, but you never know!

There are some weddings you simply must attend except in the direst of circumstances like:

  • Someone being sick
  • Medical issues
  • Being out of the country
  • A canceled flight

You get the point; it’s got to be a serious issue to skip your sister’s wedding ceremony.

Wedding Invitation Cards Papers Laying on Table Decorate With Leaves

Don’t Skip If You’ve RSVP’d

It’s extremely rude if you RSVP that you’ll be attending the wedding ceremony and then don’t show up on time. Being late is bad enough. However, if you’re a complete no-show, then you should expect some strain on the relationship.

Engaged couples work extremely hard with their planners on who should get an invite and why. Typically, wedding ceremonies draw smaller crowds because they’re in more intimate settings. So, if you get invited to the ceremony, it’s really an honor.

But ceremonies in churches aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Most people go to weddings for the party. They want to have drinks, get crazy on the dance floor, and watch when someone in the family takes things too far, and it gets interesting.

 If you RSVP that you’re going, then you should consider it an air-tight obligation. So, clear the schedule, hire a babysitter, and get time off work.

Some Reasons You Can Skip

If you’re wondering what reasons are good enough to skip your cousin’s wedding, or you’re looking for a valid excuse, here are some reliable reasons.

The Kids

We’ve already talked about the kids, and some invitations even specify that no kids are allowed. Most people don’t want to hear crying babies when they’re saying their vows. Tell the people getting married that your young kids won’t be able to handle it, or your sitter can’t cover all of the hours you need.


Sometimes, particularly in the summer months, people get multiple wedding invites. For example, if you are booked to attend two weddings on the same day, you can attend one ceremony and one reception.

You can tell the person whose ceremony you’d like to skip that you’ll see them at their reception because you want to spend more quality time with them.


Are you a lawyer, or do you work in some other demanding field? If so, then you can always blame things on work. If you have to deal with a valid work situation or emergency, you shouldn’t feel bad about telling the couple that you can’t make it.

On the other hand, if you have to stretch the truth a bit, ensure you have something to “do” when the ceremony is happening.

White wedding reception venue with sea and mountains view. Destination wedding venue.

Destination Weddings

If you really don’t want to go to a wedding ceremony, then you can be particular about which flights you book to the destination wedding. Remember, however, that if you show up late, you may miss other fun stuff like rehearsal dinners and drinks at night with the wedding party.

If you seriously can’t book a flight until later in the day, tell them and make sure you show up ready to party hard at the reception.

Conclusion – Ceremonies Aren’t That Bad

Most people love wedding ceremonies. But, if you haven’t been and the idea turns you off, why not check things out? Find out what all of the fuss is about. You may end up having a great time.

Remember, you’re there to support the people getting married. The ceremony doesn’t last that long at the end of the day. You’ll be there for photos and to soak up those special moments that only happen during a wedding ceremony.

If you really want to skip, give them as much notice as possible and have a good reason you can’t be there!