A wedding guest cancelled, so this bride wants to charge them.

Once upon a time, an invitation to a wedding, birthday, or other special occasion meant the chance to celebrate with a loved one and enjoy a fun event with a bunch of friends.

These days, an invitation can bring on a bout of anxiety, with increasingly lavish special occasions costing guests a bucket load — in travel, food, drinks, transport — not to mention the gift.

I’ve been invited to events that cost anywhere from $100 to several thousands of dollars, and depending on your financial situation, even the former can be stressful — especially when the occasion is being hosted by someone close to you.

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Destination weddings have become increasingly popular, costing both guests and hosts a fortune — so what happens when someone wants to go, intends to even, but has to drop out at the last minute?

One Australian bride has sent the internet into a tailspin after suggesting the guest should reimburse the host if they cancel at the last minute.

Posing the question to the podcast, She’s on the Money, the bride said ten guests had cancelled within a week of the wedding date, citing the cost of interstate travel as the reason for their change of heart.

“Is it reasonable to request that they cover these costs themselves?” she asked, explaining that all ten guests had previously RSVPd ‘yes’ to the wedding invitations which were sent more than 10 months ago.


“It’s now one week out from the wedding and I have already given the confirmed numbers to the venue and paid the outstanding amount, which was $18,600,” the bride shared with the podcast hosts, claiming she’s now scrambling to cover their seats to avoid wasting $2000.

“So sorry, I know we RSVP’d yes and the wedding is next week but we just can’t afford to travel interstate at the moment,” the guest wrote in a text message to the bride.

“Hope you understand, would love to have been there.”

Responses were divided, split almost down the middle, with 51 per cent saying guests should cover the cost of their late cancellation, and 49 per cent believing they shouldn’t have to. 

“No one books flights for an interstate wedding the week prior. The guest is 100 per cenr at fault here and is not a nice friend for doing this,” a person wrote.

“Given they said YES in July – they had almost 6 months to ensure they could save for it. Very disappointing they committed to coming but then didn’t plan to be able to afford it,” agreed another.

But others felt it was a privilege to be able to host such an event at all, and the bride should consider the possibility that guests may have tried to make it work financially, but simply couldn’t.

“It is such a privileged position to make statements around this situation. They could be in genuine financial distress and literally living paycheck to paycheck, with some unexpected financial thing that came out of the woodworks and they had to use their money for that and mean they couldn’t travel,” wrote one listener. 

“You would have paid the seat even if they came or not, so it doesn’t make a difference from a budget point of view. Life is expensive and hard and having a wedding is a choice in my thoughts — we had a few last minute drop outs and I never would have dreamed of asking them to cover their seat!” wrote another. 


One listener expressed dismay that weddings have become “paid ticket events”. 

“If invited it’s a hosted event,” she wrote. 

“It just seems like it’s all become a transactional affair and not a celebration of love and commitment.”

Around 53 per cent of She’s on the Money listeners said they’d be happy to cover their costs if they cancelled at the last minute, but as some pointed out, if finances are the reason for cancelling in the first place, reimbursing costs to an event you were supposed to attend as a guest, won’t be easy. 

“51 per cent said asking for money from a broke friend is okay? If the original invitation said ‘you have to cover costs if you rsvp yes then say no’, maybe this would be fine — just,” wrote one listener. 

“It takes a lot of guts to admit you can’t afford something after all, and sometimes that’s why people admit to it later than idea,” agreed another. 

Psychologist Pheobe Rogers says now, more than ever, clients are bringing cost of living to therapy, and being torn between a loved one's special day and your own financial struggles can have a huge impact on mental health. 

"A lot of us are conditioned to prioritise others' needs above our own and experience overwhelming guilt for not being there for another, or shame — feeling like a bad person if you don't go along," Ms Rogers says. 

"You can feel completely stuck and in a bind, panicked over the right course to take. You can worry about what saying 'no' can mean for the trajectory of the relationship, will it result in future awkward or painful encounters, and be a future source of tension or friction?


As more people demand their guests pay for expensive occasions, many are facing day to day financial decisions that are pivotal to theirs and their family's wellbeing. 

"Financial decisions and the worry about what to do, and the shame of not doing well, can cause loss of sleep, chronic worry and rumination, and even impact self-esteem. If you're counting every penny, this is incredibly stressful. It determines the care you can access, the support you have, and how you can participate in social events."

Ms Rogers says if you're faced with a dilemma like this, you need to put your long-term wellbeing first. 

"When we're talking about money, we're talking about survival. Your survival comes before being there for others. Be realistic, look at the numbers, what expenses are survival and must be covered first."

Be upfront, says Ms Rogers, preferably from the get-go. 

"Say something like, 'I'd so love to attend, but we just can't at the moment; it's been a bit tight lately, and I hope to make it next tine'. Also, try not to get caught into justifying or explaining — your survival is enough of a reason, and a simple 'no thanks' suffices. 

"Share the reality only with those you know who will 'get it'. A true friendship isn't one based on your financial status and ability to participate — it's one built on empathy and respect. Boundaries are necessary to get through these situations and maintain your wellbeing."

Feature image: Instagram/@shesonthemoney

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