Is there an unspoken obligation to attend?

bridal shower girls toasting

Bachelorette parties, bridal showers, engagement parties, and bridal luncheons are just some of the many pre-wedding celebrations that'll take place in the months, weeks, and days leading up to a wedding. While those who are in the bridal party should do their best to attend the pre-nuptial events, is everyone else who's invited expected to accept their invitations? Many brides-to-be like to include a larger circle of friends in the bachelorette festivities, but should a woman who's not a bridesmaid feel obligated to attend? Here, we take a look at what modern etiquette says.

Do you have to attend the bachelorette party if you're not in the wedding?

Whether you're in the bridal party or not, there's no rule that says you have to attend the bachelorette party (or any other pre-wedding parties), but those who are serving as bridesmaids are generally expected to make a concerted effort to join in for as many as possible. As for other guests, Lizzie Post, an etiquette expert from the Emily Post Institute and host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, says, "No one has an obligation to attend any of the pre-wedding parties. It's a lot, especially in a day and age when flights are required for a lot of these events." She encourages guests to be realistic about which parties they make a priority and politely decline those they can't swing.

What if I can't attend the destination bachelorette party?

Whether you're in the bridal party or another guest, attending a destination bachelorette party is a big expense. If you can't afford to spend the money or take the time off work, it's okay to decline the invitation. If you're planning the event and it turns out that most of the bridal party is struggling to make it work, Post says it's worth thinking about planning the pre-wedding parties for the week of the actual wedding. You could plan a one of two night bachelorette party on Monday and Tuesday, a bridal shower on Wednesday, and the bridal luncheon on Thursday.

What should I do if I can't make it to the bachelorette party?

The most courteous thing to do is let the hosts know as early as possible that you won't be able to make it. You don't need to go into the details surrounding cost and logistics, but just let them know you're very excited to see them at the wedding or other pre-wedding events.


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