While I’m away, readers give the advice.
Brides strike back:
Please advise all those invited to expensive or tacky or even perfectly nice weddings they do not really wish to attend that there is a standard, polite, one-size-fits-all response, which will work perfectly, as long as you are not secretly seeking a little drama in your life.
You simply RSVP that you will be unable to attend, and then send them a really lovely, even $5.50 possibly, congratulations card. Go crazy, get the one with the crunchy lace and the real ribbon bow and the see-through cover with sheer, scrolly sentiments on it.
You are not required by law, etiquette or custom to give a gift. A nice card is over and above the financial obligation incurred by being invited to a wedding.
There is no need to explain why you cannot attend, since politeness only requires a response to avoid their paying the caterer for a no-show.
If you feel you must give a reason, don’t do it on the RSVP card, but in person; if asked, you can say, simply, “I have already made plans for that weekend.” It’s sufficient and all anyone needs to know. OK, so, in your head, if you must get your two cents in, you can add something like, “I made other plans for that vacation time and that sum of money, and I don’t expect to be told how I am to use those precious resources!” But only say it in your head.
Keep in mind that a “cannot attend” response is an opportunity for one side or the other to add another guest to their list who might genuinely enjoy coming to the blessed event. You are not doing anyone a favor by attending when you don’t want to, since every bride has had to pare her list down to what the finances (be it her own money, her fiance’s money, or that of generous family) can accommodate. – L.