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Attending a wedding is costly. When is it OK to say 'no' to the invitation?

An etiquette expert sat down with Scripps News to share tips for staying within your budget during wedding season.
A couple during their wedding's signature ceremony
Posted at 9:22 PM, May 16, 2024

If you've ever planned a wedding, you know the event costs a pretty penny to host. But the cost to attend isn't cheap either.

Last year, a Bankrate survey found 62% of wedding attendees said they had at least one financial concern, and 21% said going to the nuptials would strain their budget, with 18% saying they were taking on credit card debt to be able to do it.

And with 2.17 million projected weddings in the U.S. this year, the wallet woes likely aren't letting up for those of us who get some of those invites.

But when is it OK to put yourself — and your finances — first and say no? Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and founder of The Swann School of Protocol, told Scripps News it's all about your budget.

Swann said you have to consider the total cost of your travel, gifts, outfit and more before deciding to RSVP yes. That's even true if you're asked to be in the bridal or groom's parties.

A couple during their wedding's signature ceremony.

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"There's nothing wrong with saying to the person, 'Listen, thank you so much. I'm so honored to be asked in your wedding. Can I give it just a little bit of thought and get right back to you?' And then you can ask the questions to see what [expenses] are involved."

Swann told Scripps News if those questions allow you to decide you can't afford the role, be upfront, but perhaps offer another way to participate like being a host or doing a reading in the wedding.

Other tips from Swann can be seen in the video above.