How to Politely Decline a Wedding Invitation

It's not easy saying "no," but we'll show you how in the least awkward way.

  • Invitations and stationery

When we receive a wedding invitation, most of the time it’s a joy, especially when it’s the wedding of a close friend or relative. It’s a truly special occasion where you can celebrate love, dance all night long and dress up – as well as meet all the people who are important to your friend/relation.


However, there will be cases where you’ll either be unable to attend or simple don’t want to – like, why did your ex-girlfriend from high school decide to invite you to her wedding? Well here, we’ve outlined the best protocol steps to take in order to politely decline a wedding invitation.

saveImage: Por Ti
Image: Por Ti

1. Offer congratulations and thanks

The wedding day is one of the most important days for a couple, so show them that you understand the gravity of the occasion and the honor of the invitation by offering your congratulations and thanking the couple for the invitation. This should be the first thing you mention in your reply.

2. Don’t invent excuses if you have none

What if you only know the bride or groom and aren’t acquainted with their family or groups of friends? If this is a reason why you want to decline the invitation, don’t try to invent a lie. The worst that can happen is you get caught. A perfectly sufficient excuse is: “unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it.”

If you do have an excuse, be simple, brief and credible and leave the exaggerated storytelling for the bar or for when you meet up with the couple at a later date.

Image: Nito via shutterstock

3. Let them know promptly

Be curteous and inform the couple as soon as possible that you can’t attend. They need to start planning expenses and until an invitation is declined, they will be counting on that seat. The more in advance that you can let the couple know, the better.

4. Use the same medium as the invitation

If you received the invitation in the mail, send back an letter. If you received an email invite, write back an email. Of course, if it’s a close friend or relative, you’ll most likely need to call or meet them and let them know personally.

(5. To gift or not?)

If you can’t attend the wedding of a close friends or family, it is best that you at least offer them a gift. You can always arrange to celebrate with the couple at a later date.

If you aren’t close, then you can dispense with any expenditure on the couple’s behalf. A simple and polite note declining their invitation is enough.


So, don’t worry, we researched all the wedding etiquette sites to help you with that potentially awkward response. Remember, it’s completely understandable that not everybody who is invited will be able to make it. So quit, stalling and get that response back!

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