No Is the Saddest Experience


I know my friends who are married, both in the real world and in the blog world, have almost universally felt sadness over particular guests being unable to attend their weddings. And if there is anything I’ve learned in the past year of wedding planning and wedding blogging, it is that weddings crank emotions up to eleven.

But I was unprepared for waking up to Collin saying “So-and-so’s RSVP came in the mail; it’s a no” and spending the rest of the day feeling like there was a vice squeezing my heart.

I know that attending weddings can be very expensive, and travel is difficult. I know that sometimes the timing of life (pregnancies, new jobs, illnesses, family obligations) can’t always work out neatly. I can’t expect everyone to be able to come.

But it is still hard. I feel like I have to take an eraser to my imagination of my wedding day and rub out some of the faces. Which for me triggers an even deeper layer of sadness to boil to the surface, because when I start to think about all the people I always imagined being at my wedding who won’t be there, I can’t help but think of my parents.

I know I will still be surrounded by the people I love on my wedding day. Just not all of them.


  1. Oh, I am right there with you. Our rsvp deadline is next week, and there are a few of my good college friends that we still haven’t heard from. And I am dreading. There are a lot of people very dear to me that can’t be there(very sick grandfather, far away godmother, father who passed away), so I was counting on these other old friends to fill that void, and it they can’t come too… I’m just hoping they are being total flakes or busy making travel arrangements.

    By all accounts, on the day of it’s less about missing people who aren’t there and more about embracing the people who are there. Though I can’t imagine in your situation that your parents won’t be far from your thoughts…

    • I don’t know how she felt, but at my sister’s wedding a few years ago, the mood was so celebratory and happy I only had fleeting, not-very-painful thoughts of “I wish my parents were here for this.” I think the joy of the day takes over. It’s during the planning when the hurt it most raw.

  2. I have nothing to say except that I’m sending you all sorts of hugs. Because it is hard, and it hurts even when you understand. And I can’t remotely understand how it feels to lose my parents. But just know that there WILL be so much love that day.

    I know APW has some great posts from other women who wed after losing their mothers or parents. Hugs.

  3. I so know what you are feeling. One of my bridesmaids had to tell me she couldn’t make it (took a job that would have in remote remote Alaska at the time) and I was sad sad sad for a couple of days. It was hard to imagine the day without her. Eventually my vision of the day was revised and I am just as excited (although I will miss her for sure!). Allow yourself to grieve a bit and you’ll be excited again soon.

  4. Oh, Robin, this post made me extra sad. I know exactly what you mean. I know how I feel when I find out someone can’t make my party — multiply that by a million and I’m sure that’s how it feels when it’s your wedding you’re planning. I vow to party extra hard on the behalf of those who cannot attend. Hugs.

  5. This post made my heart ache for you.

    My father also passed away seven years ago this past Sunday. So it’s been quite some time, and yet this year, planning the wedding, some of those old scabs have started bleeding fresh. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am going to get married without my dad, and in some ways it’s even harder for my partner who struggles with feeling the loss of someone he never even knew.

    I am terrified I will be caught up in grief on my wedding day. But most people say that you do focus on the immense love from the people that are there.

    I guess, whatever we believe in after death, one thing we do know. That, on some level, our parents are always there. In our gait as we walk down the aisle. In our vocal mannerisms as we speak our vows. In our laughter as we make jokes. And in our hearts. Always.

    • My parents died five years ago, so I guess it has been some time for me too, but you know what? Grief is not linear. And you are absolutely right that weddings rip up old wounds.

      But I think (and hope!) you are right in your beautiful words about how the memory of lost loved ones will be woven into our wedding day. Thank you for this lovely comment!

  6. Oh Robin, that makes me sad. I know what you mean about taking the eraser to your mind and altering the picture you have. To have “scenes” play through your head of certain people laughing, dancing, chatting – and then have to imagine them differently – must be very hard. I’m dreading the RSVP time of year for us.

  7. I cannot imagine…I cannot, I cannot…..and I know that there is NO substitute for your mom and dad in any of us, dear Robin. It must hurt so bad and feel so very raw again that your heart feels like it is wilting.But I hope that your thoughts will then take you to all of us who are here for you to help carry some of the burden. You cannot be loved any more, admired any more,and embraced any more by this new family than anyone else in this universe!!!! We are now your GREATEST fans for the whole rest of your life!!!!( along with your awesome family) love, love ,love,……and life is good

  8. It was a blow that none of our living grandparents could attend, especially so close on the heels of loosing two of mine this winter. And it’s also been hard to reconcile that only 53% of our invited guests are attending.

    But I’m coming to terms with it because it means we can now afford to serve liquor. A little spiked lemonade out of lemons.

  9. awww…i have a terrible feeling in my stomach just thinking about the answer no in any capacity. i hate that word.

  10. I knew early on that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to make it to our wedding. family from the midwest and east coast, and all my college friends lived about 6-8 hours from my hometown where the wedding was, and they were all on a college student budget. so I had braced myself early on. it still sucks though. probably the worst though was the people that didn’t even RSVP. I got married about 6 months after graduating college, moved an hour away and started a full-time job. I didn’t realize how quickly I would lose touch with a lot of people. one of my absolute best guy friends from all 4 years of college was one of those, he was a brother to me, i almost made him a boy bridal brigade member and he never rsvp’d and never came, no phone call no note, stopped returning my calls. i had always imagined him there on my wedding day. it still hurts.

  11. I just found your blog through APW, and there’s so much here that I can deeply relate to, but this post hits particularly close to home right now. I have been feeling gutted each time someone tells us they won’t be at our wedding (got our first official “no” RSVP today, but have already been told by some close friends and family that they won’t be there). I guess the negative side of having a really small, simple, personal wedding is how easy it is to take things personally. When you are trying to only prioritize the really important things– like having a wedding that celebrates your love with the people you care about– it hurts when some of those people won’t be a part of it like you pictured.

    Anyway, thanks for having an awesome blog.

  12. After I found out that NONE of my (5) sisters and only 1 of my (3) sisters-in-law would be attending my bachelorette party…I cried. Intermittently for, like, 4 days. It was totally unreasonable. But my sisters and I are SO close, I couldn’t visualize how I’d do anything wedding-related without them. It felt like someone stomping on my heart. And of course I can’t tell them because I don’t want them to feel pressured to go to ridiculous lengths for what amounts to a night of drinking.

    I seriously hate this wedding and everything related to it. It’s going to be awesome, but it needs to hurry the eff up and get itself over.

Leave a Reply to Becca Cancel reply

Required fields are marked *.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.