How To Decline A Wedding Invitation Politely

Every now and then you might receive a wedding invitation that you unfortunately have to decline. It happens to the best of us, whether we want to or not. Sometimes it’s a destination wedding we can’t afford, or you’re simply not available that day. It doesn’t make you a bad person—just a regular human being with a life. Whatever the reason, there are a few things to remember when you need to graciously decline a wedding invite:

Call the couple

If you can’t attend the wedding or a pre-wedding event, don’t text or email them. It’s proper etiquette to pick up the phone and personally let them know that you won’t be able to make it. It may be easier on you to shoot a text or send an email in case they have an unpleasant reaction but at the end of the day this isn’t just another party, it’s their wedding day! It’s important that you give the couple the respect they deserve.

Send a gift

Even if you can’t make it to a wedding, it’s proper etiquette to send along a gift, anyway. Scope out their registry to find that perfect somethin’ somethin’ to say congratulations to the happy couple. Remember, you don’t have to purchase a big ticket item to show that you care.

Don’t over-apologize

Once you’ve said you’re sorry for being unable to attend, move on and be done with it. There’s no use in bringing it up every time you see or hear from the couple. The couple has dozens of other things to worry about besides your attendance, so chances are they’ve already moved on to their next task pretty quickly.

Be Brief In Your Explanation

While it’s a nice gesture to offer a reason for your refusal, there’s no need to be super forthcoming and overshare. A simple and succinct response will do, and it’s an especially bad idea to dwell on your rationale if it’s cost-related — it will establish nothing beyond making the couple feel bad.

Keep it Formal

The response card should be written in a formal format, regardless of how close you are to them or not. Always start with a formal introduction, such as, “Dear (name),” followed by your explanation that’s one paragraph, short-and-to-the-point, with no excuses. Then, end it with a sincere enclosure such as, “sincerely,” “best regards,” or “wishing you the best,” (your name).

Make It Up To The Couple

Even though you’ll be absent, it’s still good etiquette to arrange something thoughtful for the soon-to-be newlyweds. If you’re close with the couple, offering to help with the bridal shower or bachelorette party is a nice way show that you still want to be involved in the celebrations. Another surefire way to offer your congratulations? Taking the lovebirds out to a fancy dinner always works. After all, a free meal is one gift that always work in your favor.

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