My Friends No-Showed At My Wedding

They RSVPed yes, then never came.

wedding toast KOTOIMAGES/ Shutterstock

I really hate to put this label on friends, but I have a few friends who cancel plans frequently and they’re really late to things when they do come.

You can’t really saddle them with anything that requires logistic or operational savvy.

When you do make plans with them, you rely on them not showing up more than you do.

When you text them, you either never get a response — or get a response maybe a week later.


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A lot of people will say my friends are unreliable.

But it's never bothered me that much in the past because I never really had to rely on them for important things. If it was just canceled plans at lunch or them being hours late to something, I could do something else because I'm not the type of person that plans my entire day around the actions of someone else.


Plus, my unreliable friends had positive attributes to make up for their unreliability.

Usually, they have pretty electric or charismatic personalities that fill up the room and keep you entertained the entire time you’re with them. I have close emotional bonds with them that aren't impeded by their lack of organization and logistic-savvy.

They’re the kind of people that are either all-in on an occasion — or they're not, and they don't adhere to societal mores like being on time or being predictable.

And when they do execute on being somewhere, they somehow make up for their lack of punctuality. They tend to know the right things to say and the right ways to be emotionally present to be the most attentive and socially exciting people in the room.


Also, the vast majority of my unreliable friends have some sort of severe mental illness like severe depression or anxiety. However, I edit a mental health publication and have family members with severe mental illness and pride myself on being a good listener and being non-judgmental of those people, so I largely don’t "hold my friends accountable" or judge them for their tardiness or no-shows.

How can I judge people when they need to stay home because of their depression is lying to them? My primary goal as a friend is to be a source of support for them, and the label "unreliable" is ableist when you account for people’s disabilities and mental illnesses.

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By contrast, I have a reputation as a very reliable and structured person.


I'm always on time for gatherings or social occasions — but the flipside is that I’m not always the most attentive person because I spend a lot of time on my phone.

When I tell someone I’ll do something or be somewhere at a certain time and place, that’s a promise. My behavior is often predictable and I tend not to engage in many unexpected deviations from the norm.

I'm a rule follower, even though I have a lot of internal warfare and rebellious tendency on the inside.

One of my groomsmen at the wedding, who I needed a lot of help and support from on my wedding day, has a reputation for being unreliable.

When it comes to social events, he's flaky; you can rely on him coming about 30% of the time. It’s kind of interesting because he won’t make it when you expect him to, and will make him when you least expect him to.


However, at my wedding and all the events surrounding it, including the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, he made everything, was on time or just slightly late. He really stepped up to the occasion when it mattered.

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Thus, I expected all my other friends who RSVPed that they were coming to the wedding to step up to the occasion as well.

I expected them to be on time, be there, and, well, make the hundreds of dollars we spent on their attendance that could have gone to someone else, to make it.

Most of my friends came. But some of the friends with reputations for being unreliable told me last minute they couldn't make it.


One informed me with a very valid excuse of a last-minute occurrence, but since it wasn’t the first or last time the friend flaked, per se, so I did question the excuse a bit because it wasn’t the first time. But that’s a minor no-show compared to the others.

What really hurt was the unreliable friends who said they were coming and RSVP’d and didn’t show up at all without giving any excuse as to why they couldn't make it. 

If they knew they couldn’t come, I wish they would have just declined the RSVP.

Sure, it was the first time I really had to rely on them in that capacity or expect anything from them, but I was baffled by the lack of consideration for all the organization, money, and stress that comes with planning a wedding.


It’s complicated because I still love them and wanted to know if they were okay, in case something awful happened or they had an accident. I’m sure they have a lot going on and I know there are more important things in friendships than their attendance at my wedding.

But still: not showing up at my own wedding was a tipping point of those friendships;  I finally released much pent-up frustration over several years of being canceled on.

If it was a typically reliable friend who never flaked on plans, I would know there was a genuinely valid and serious excuse that came up. But since these friends are eternally unreliable, I'm resentful.


With time, maybe I’ll let it go.  And as I get older, I've started to value reliable people more, and it makes me feel bad because I consider myself a compassionate and understanding person.

I hope to eventually forgive my unreliable friends because life is short and I do still love and want to support them.

But moving forward, I'm not expecting much.

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Ryan Fan is a believer and educator in Baltimore City. He is a law student at night, and a marathon runner when he can find the time.