Swiping Left on the WhatsApp Wedding Invite

What do you do with WhatsApp wedding invites with no follow-up or prior phone call or in-person invite?

Bhavin Jankharia


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It happened again a few days ago. Someone sent an invite on WhatsApp for the wedding reception of their son, with a message, “Please consider this a personal invitation”, as if there were any other kind of invitation. If he hadn’t mentioned this, would it have meant it was impersonal? I swiped left immediately.

Why do you typically attend weddings of the children of the people who are not all that close to you…colleagues, friends, acquaintances and relatives who you are in touch with, but not the ones with whom you share your deepest, intimate secrets? 

One reason could be that you just look for any opportunity to attend any function, to dress up and to see and be seen. In which case, any invite, WhatsApp or otherwise, is an excuse to land up at that function. If so, this piece is not for you.

Another reason is to fulfill social obligations, to maintain those relationships, which even if not close, are worth keeping as part of the extended circle of people you know and would like to keep knowing…attending a function, especially a child’s wedding, is one way of furthering that relationship. But I would argue here that it is equally the responsibility of the person inviting you to be a little less casual about the invite and to take the effort to give you a call to invite you to the wedding.

My reason for attending the wedding of the child of someone who is not particularly close, is to bless the couple and to congratulate the parents. This involves a significant investment on my part…planning for the event, dressing up, traveling to the venue (which in Mumbai can take an hour or two), spending an hour or two in that outdoor or indoor area, and then traveling back home. If my friend, relative, colleague or acquaintance wants me to invest this kind of time and energy to attend their function, they also need to invest a little time and energy to invite me properly. 

A WhatsApp wedding invite without a prior or a follow-up call is just a hollow invite, sent out because it is easy to send jpgs, gifs, PDFs and short videos on WhatsApp with minimal effort to anyone and everyone in the inviter’s contacts list.

In the end, it is about spending my time wisely and well. I have 1600 weeks left till I turn 90 and I find it pointless running around attending wedding receptions of children I don’t even know, when the same time could be spent peacefully at home or with close friends or family, or reading a book, or writing something or working out, or watching a good movie or show on television.

The first simple filter for ignoring a wedding invitation is the impersonal WhatsApp invite unaccompanied by a call. I simply swipe it leftwards to dismiss it and refuse to acknowledge the invite. That pretty much takes care of at least 15-20 invites every year. If the person inviting me does not believe I am worth the effort to make the invitation a little more personal with a phone call, then I see absolutely no reason to attend that function. Even if the person makes the phone call, it is still my decision to attend, which will then depend upon whether I am free, whether the venue is near or far, whether it is a working day or a weekend or whether there is another competing event at the other end of town. But, if there is no phone call, then it is easy…I just don’t bother.

Earlier, I used to acknowledge these WhatsApp invites by saying “Congrats and wish the couple the very best from me”, but I have stopped that as well, because a reply starts a conversation with the implication that I have acknowledged the invite and if I say no without a solid excuse (and without lying), it puts me on the defensive, if the inviter now starts insisting I attend. The invitation has now become personal, but that conversation was initiated by me, not the inviter and doesn’t count as a personal invite.

In the past, people who wanted you to attend weddings would come home or send out invites through friends and family or by post and then call. In the days of only landlines, when half of them wouldn’t work, there would be paper lists where you had to still reach out to everyone who you wanted at your function and if you couldn’t reach them, you had to figure out ways and means of getting through to them somehow, to deliver a personal invitation message. When emails became popular, invites would sometimes be emailed, but were almost always still accompanied by a phone call. WhatsApp has turned around the process…it is so easy to send an invite to someone with minimal effort that people just dish them out like joke forwards, to all and sundry.

If you were having a small, intimate destination wedding or if the wedding was in the Western world, where not more than 50-200 people are invited, this wouldn’t happen. All invitations for such functions would necessarily be personal and would also need an RSVP, so as to manage the headcount.

In India though, where weddings often have more than 1000 invitees, sometimes going up to 10,000, it doesn’t matter if there are a few extra people attending or not attending and the tendency seems to be to just hand out invites on WhatsApp to whoever you know or is in your contacts list, with the assumption that even if a few of them turn up, they can be easily managed or accommodated…in the end, it’s just one additional food plate and the longer the line to wish the couple, the prouder the parents are.

This is just so much bullshit.

If you expect me to spend my time to attend your child’s wedding function, the least I expect is for you to make the effort to pick up the phone and call…and then it is still up to me to decide to attend or not. If all you do is send a WhatsApp invite, then that is my excuse to just swipe left and not even bother to consider to attend.

Am I in a minority here or do you share my viewpoint?

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