How to Turn Down a Wedding Invitation the Right Way

How to Turn Down a Wedding Invitation the Right Way

When you’ve been invited to a wedding and you can’t make it for whatever reason, how do you turn down the invitation without appearing rude?

Whether you can’t make it due to work commitments, lack of money, or because you just don’t want to go, you have to decline your invitation. Here is how you can navigate this drama-prone situation:

Just Make the Call

Since you’re trying to avoid conflict, you’ll be tempted to send an email or text message instead of calling. This is the wrong way to go about it, especially if your close friends with the couple. The couple took the time to dedicate a spot for you on their big day, the least you can do is give them a call to let them know that you can’t make it.

Impersonal methods of communication, such as emails or text messages will only make you sound cold. With a call, you can use your tone of voice to communicate regret and to show that you genuinely wanted to be there but the circumstances would not allow it.

If you are not very close to the person who invited you, responding to the RSVP request in the standard way may be sufficient enough. RSVP invitations are usually sent three months before the wedding, so you have a decent amount of time to decide if you can go or not.

Notify Them As Soon As Possible

The sooner you can notify the couple that you won’t make it to their wedding, the better. This gives them ample time to make plans without you in mind and also invite a replacement if that’s an option.

People tend to delay doing unpleasant tasks as much as possible. Don’t fall into this trap and push your RSVP to the last possible moment. You will only make it worse for the wedding couple.

Don’t Over-Explain Yourself

You don’t have to give an explanation why you won’t make it. While it would be courteous of you to let them know the reason for your not being able to attend, trying to explain yourself will come off as if you are looking for approval.

Only 50 percent of those invited to destination weddings attend, so don’t think you’re the only one. Weddings are big events, but your life is just as important. If you have legitimate problems to deal with in your own life, you don’t need to do any explaining.

Be Honest if Money is the Issue

When you can’t attend because you can’t afford the cost of going to the wedding, just be honest and let the wedding couple know the reason. They’ll understand and appreciate that you let them know.

This can be the case if the wedding you’ve been invited to is a destination wedding. Destination weddings held in all-inclusive resorts can be affordable, but not for everyone. Be mindful that your kids might not be invited to the wedding if it isn’t at a family-friendly resort. This means you will have to arrange for them to be taken care of while you’re away, along with your flight, and your gift for the bride and groom.

The Decision is Final

After you’ve communicated that you won’t be attending the wedding, it would be inappropriate to later make an assumption that your invitation still stands.

Wedding planning is a complicated affair and you don’t want to complicate matters for the wedding couple because you couldn’t manage your own schedule.

You Can Still Send a Gift

Not being able to attend the wedding does not mean that you can’t send the couple a gift. You can find details of where gifts can be dropped on the wedding website or on the wedding card.


The couple will be very appreciative that you thought to send a gift even though you couldn’t make it to the wedding. Nonetheless, you are not obligated to send a gift.


The couple was basically inviting you to share their big day with them and not to get a gift from you. Feel free to skip the gift giving if you want to, it’s just an option.

Make Cool Plans for the Couple

If you can’t make it to the wedding due to some unavoidable circumstances but you are close friends of the couple, you can make plans after the wedding to share some great moments together.


This is easy to do and can be as simple as inviting them over for dinner at your place or to a nice restaurant. You can also send them a congratulatory note or card before or after the wedding.

Not Going isn’t the Worst Thing

Weddings are celebratory occasions–attending one just because you feel obligated to is not congruent with the meaning of weddings. It is better for the couple and everyone involved that you decline politely and deal with whatever is holding you back from attending.


The groom and the bride will appreciate if you politely turn down the invitation ahead of time instead of ghosting completely on the wedding day. It takes a lot of time and money to plan a wedding and they have to account for every guest invited.


It is in everyone’s interest that you communicate early enough that you won’t be able to make it to the wedding. If you consider the couple to be your friends, you really don’t want to decline the invitation poorly and end up on bad terms.


Sticking to these tips will help you when you are in a situation like this. It’s likely to happen to you at least once, so you should go about it the best way possible.