How to Leave a Wedding Early

It’s a magical night – for the couple – but after a long drive and an even longer ceremony, all you want to do is get home. So if you’ve ever wondered how to skip out of a wedding early, check out Modern Manners Guy’s 3 tips for polite departure.

Richie Frieman
Episode #250

Tip #2: A Long Commute

Not every wedding you go to will be right in your backyard (although it could be if you follow the Domestic CEO’s awesome ideas for throwing a rockin’ backyard wedding!).

Of the three dozen weddings I’ve been to in the last ten years alone, I think only two have been anywhere near my house. Granted, I don’t live in the heart of the city where the cooler hotels or venues are, so I’m never surprised when I have to drive a bit to the party.  And no matter how much fun the wedding was, it’s usually at that first yawn of the night that I remember, “Ugh, I have to drive all the way home…and it’s already midnight!” I do the math and realize that after the trip home, I’m looking at only a few hours of sleep before the sun comes up and the kids start jumping on my bed.  So just as the drunk father-in-law says, “You want the band to go another hour? You got it! Now play ‘September’ again, like you really mean it!” – you start wondering how you could slip away without insulting anyone.

See also: Should I Bring a Friend as a Wedding Date?

Whether it’s a wedding or just a party, the hosts should never be upset when someone who has traveled a far distance has to leave early. It’s absolutely proper to allow someone ample time to get home, no matter how much fun the event is. If a host/bride/groom ever says, “If you leave, you are no longer my friend!” then guess what – they’re a crappy friend. When you drive a long way for a wedding, that’s your ticket out and you can cash it in at any time. Tell the bride and groom, “We’re sorry but we’re going to have to skip out now. Got that loooong ride back. But this has been an absolutely amazing party!” They know where you live, and they should understand.

See also: Proper Wedding Attire

However, if you do cash in the long drive excuse, time it right. Don’t leave right after the new couple walk into the room or after the first dance or during the speeches (if there are any). Have respect for the couple and the night they planned. You can be the first to leave, but be sure to at least partake in the evening a little, since you’ve known about its timing and location for several months.  

Tip #3: Stay for the Perks

It’s important to remember that if you want to leave a wedding, you can do so whenever you like (whether they like it or not). You’re not a prisoner. If you are uncomfortable (maybe your ex is making snide comments about you), or you have an emergency (maybe your dress or suit split open in an unflattering place), you can leave whenever you care to. However, proper etiquette dictates that you should wait until everything the happy couple has paid for is brought out before you bail. In other words, they invited you to the party and you accepted to be there. So they paid for your dinner, your dessert, and your reception gift. This means, that unless you have something pressing (like a true emergency), you should only leave after the meal and dessert has been served, even if you don’t eat anything.

See also: How to Handle Special Meal Requests

If you leave before the food is done, you are throwing their money away, which is very rude.  I’m not saying you have to wait for the entire table to finish eating (that’s outside your control) but you should wait for the meals to be served before approaching the couple with your exit strategy. And when you do approach them, be sure to have a good reason. Not just, “Hey, we came, we saw, we danced, we ate…we’re out!”

In every situation, regardless of the reason, if you leave early you should always be sure to thank the hosts. This means the bridal party and the family members footing the bill. This is not optional. If you leave early without saying good-bye, you will not only invite gossip about your reasons for departure (and none of it will be good), but you will also demonstrate that you don’t really care about anyone else at the wedding, which is the height of rudeness.

Do you have a great story about how or why you left a wedding early? Post all the details in the comment section of the Modern Manners Guy web site or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Babysitter and Cake Topper images courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Richie Frieman
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