Wedding Therapist Says ‘No’ RSVP Doesn’t Have Same Meaning Anymore

  • The pandemic changed the reasons people decline wedding invitations.
  • But many engaged couples are still struggling with sadness or anger when their guests RVSP “no.”
  • Wedding therapist Landis Bejar encourages couples to reframe their thoughts on declined invites.

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Although access to vaccines has caused a wedding boom, many people are still choosing not to attend weddings because of the pandemic. 

It might be because they are immunocompromised, feel nervous about traveling, or because they don’t feel comfortable attending an event where other guests might not be vaccinated. 

The reasons people have for not attending are all valid, but some engaged couples are still finding themselves sad or angry when guests who could otherwise come choose not to attend their weddings.

Wedding therapist and founder of AisleTalk Landis Bejar is encouraging these couples to reframe their reaction to getting a “no” RSVP in light of the pandemic.

Bejar told Insider that it’s in engaged couples’ best interest to have empathy for their guests choosing not to attend their weddings.

But before they can, Bejar said they first need to process the initial sadness and anger they might feel, and try not to push those feelings away with thoughts like, “I shouldn’t be that mad because at least my family’s alive.”

A woman twists her engagement ring indicating she is stressed out about wedding planning.

It’s important to accept your anger and sadness.

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“I don’t mean to discount having that perspective, but it can be a version of invalidating yourself or invalidating someone else,” Bejar said. “So the first thing is to just honor those emotions and know that they are valid.”

After they have made room for their feelings, Bejar encourages her clients to try to unlearn what a declined invite means in light of COVID.

“We have a framework in our mind for what it means when somebody says no to a wedding,” Bejar said. “That’s based on normal life, not pandemic trauma life.”

“When somebody says that they can’t come because they have a compromised family member at home, or they can’t come because they’re just scared as all hell to travel, we have to come to an understanding that this is not normal life,” she said. “It is not the same as somebody not being able to make it in the past.”

If these couples engage in empathy for the reasons their guests aren’t attending their weddings, it can help them understand their guests’ decisions and see that they likely want to come but feel like they can’t, according to Bejar.

Bride and groom silhouette

Guests not coming to your wedding doesn’t mean they don’t want to come.

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She also encourages her clients not to focus on the things they can’t control about their weddings, like who won’t attend.

“I think a lot of therapy comes down to that conversation of awareness of what we can and can’t control in a situation,” Bejar said. “And that goes back to how we make decisions about how we’re going to be safe at our weddings.”

Each couple has to decide what safety precautions they want to take at their weddings in terms of the coronavirus, and it’s unlikely that everyone you invite will be happy with the decisions you and your partner make. But you can’t control that. 

Bejar suggests the following mantra for couples who are struggling with anger or sadness about guests who will not be able to make it to their weddings: “I can simultaneously have empathy for that person making that decision and still feel sad or angry that they couldn’t be there.”

By taking a more nuanced approach to what it means when someone regretfully declines an invite to their wedding, engaged couples can be more at peace on their wedding days.