How to Decline a Wedding Invitation of a Close Friend - 9 Ways to Politely Decline a Wedding Invitation From a Close Friend.
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Weddings are meant to be sacred days that are shared with loved ones where everyone is happy and the sun is shining, there is no starvation and there is world peace. This at least is the ideal scenario.
As we know however, life is the biggest dream basher there is. Not a lot of things go according to plan and weddings are not immune to that. Close friends and even family might have to miss the wedding due to other commitments that life threw at them such that if they decided to miss, they would suffer some consequences.
When this happens it does not mean that they love the guest of honor any less, circumstances simply did not permit them to express the love they have. It is however prudent that this is explained to the couple-to-be so that they understand the situation. It is also important that the situation is explained in such a way that it is understood. This is the purpose of this article, to explain the right way to go about turning down an invitation to a wedding that you cannot attend.
Before we talk about how to reject a wedding invitation, we need to talk about the why. This would enable you to better explain the reason why you cannot not make it for the wedding.
6 Reasons for declining a wedding invitation to a close friend
Table of Contents
1. Logistical challenges
The world is becoming smaller as it gets more connected and so people have been able to move to other areas of the world in order to take advantage of opportunities in other countries, states or towns.
This means that close friends could be in different parts of the world and this presents an issue when weddings come up because travelling is required which on its own can present a host of challenges. Surmounting those challenges might simply not be possible at that time and neither would attending the wedding by extension.
2. Financial challenges
At times we find ourselves down on our luck financially and are forced to prioritise expenses so as to survive. With weddings coming with expenses such as gifts, attire and logistics, they could be considered an indulgence that we simply cannot afford.
These things happen to the best of us and it is not a reason to put yourself down but it is a very good reason not to show up to a wedding. If you decide to attend a wedding knowing very well that you cannot afford it, it could lead to situations that would end in your embarrassment.
3. Scheduling conflicts
The wedding could have just been set on a day when you had other things to do. This is even more likely if the wedding invitation comes late.
You could have a work commitment on that day that you simply can not miss for one reason or the other. You could also have a family commitment that needs your presence on that day such as a family reunion or trip that was planned for ages.
And in an unlikely but very possible scenario, you could have another wedding that you have already agreed to attend. The point is, people have multiple interests and it is totally plausible that they clash on the same day, a day that just happens to be the wedding of a close friend.
4. Emotional reasons
Weddings are a celebration of love which is an emotion. Emotions are therefore bound to be all over the place and maybe you would like to avoid that.
You could have misgivings about your close friend’s partner for instance and feel that going to the wedding might lead to you saying something you shouldn’t, so you would prefer it if you avoided the situation entirely.
You might also have just come out of a relationship or marriage and attending a wedding could stir up some negative feelings.
Emotional wellbeing is important and you have to protect yours. If that means that you have to decline a wedding invitation, so be it.
5. Health reasons
Your physical health is no joke and if you cannot attend a wedding because of it, your soon to be wedded friend should understand this.
There are a number of reasons your health might be at stake if you attend the wedding. You could for instance have a terminal illness that requires that you stay put for the moment or your doctor could have advised you against travelling as they monitor your situation.
You could even have a contagious disease that forces you to limit your contact with people or God forbid, you are scheduled for an operation that you need to survive.
If you cannot attend a wedding because of your health, do not even negotiate it. Do what your doctor says and recover. Your friend will simply have to understand.
6. Political reasons
Sometimes the decision is taken away from your hands completely by the government. Certain measures might have been put in place that prevent the free movement of people which means that you would be unable to attend your close friend’s wedding.
Take for instance the Corona pandemic that swept across the world. Most countries implemented travel restrictions and lockdowns to varying degrees. Your friend might be hosting their wedding in a more restriction-relaxed area whilst you are stuck in a more zealous jurisdiction that refuses to let you travel. This is the main reason air traffic fell so much in 2020 as shown by this graph by the International Energy Agency.
In such a case you have no choice but to stay put and miss the wedding.
9 Ways to politely decline a wedding invitation from a close friend.
1. Think about it
First things first. You need to properly think about this. You need to weigh your relationship with this friend against the reasons that you cannot make it because after all is said and done, missing your close friend’s wedding will definitely have an effect on your relationship with them.
Friendship is all about sacrifice and if you feel like the reason you are missing the wedding is one that you would not accept yourself then maybe you need to realign your priorities. If however, you feel that you have a very reasonable excuse then, it is logical to assume that your friend would feel the same way.
This article is about declining a wedding invitation of a close friend. The key phrase here is “close friend”. With a close friend, you absolutely cannot be vague about your reasons for not being able to make it.
As your close friend, they have been through a lot with you and you at least owe them a truthful explanation as to why you will not be able to celebrate such a special day with them.
You do not have to over explain as this can complicate things but do be honest with them. Chances are that they would understand the reason perfectly and even offer you support in whatever endeavor it is that is keeping you away from the wedding.
3. RSVP early
Once you are certain that you would be unable to attend the wedding, you need to regretfully decline the wedding invitation or RSVP as soon as possible.
The reason being that weddings are very complicated to plan and so people tend to be meticulous about it.
It is important that you reach out as soon as possible so that the wedding plans are adjusted to accommodate your absence rather than doing it so late that it affects a lot of other things, particularly the seating arrangements.
4. Use your voice
In the case of close friends, it would not be appropriate to decline a wedding invitation via email. You need to use your voice and if possible you need to do it face to face.
If you are in the same area as them or can afford to see them if you aren’t, you should definitely go to them and explain the situation in person. It would be more thoughtful and gives you the opportunity to properly explain yourself.
If you are unable to meet with them then you are in luck because this is the age of technology. There are so many apps that allow you to be able to call them via video or just plain audio. Take advantage of them and explain your reasons for not making it.
5. Send a gift to show your support
Your lack of attendance does not in any way cancel out the need for a gift. Indeed if anything, you are now more obliged to do so.
Sending a gift would remind your close friend that you still support them even if you could not be there and also that you are thinking of them.
So yeah, look through the wedding registry for something that would be useful to them and make them think of you and if there isn’t any or if you are unable to find something to send, check out items to put in a registry and wedding gifts for couples.
6. Help them plan the wedding
Actions speak louder than words and instead of just telling your close friend how bad you feel about missing their wedding, you could show them as well by helping them out.
Weddings are a beautiful thing but bless my heart they are so hard to plan and chances are that your close friend is going through quite a bit of stress.
Lending a helping hand with the planning would surely go a long way to showing that you still support them even though you can’t be there on the day. You could even do something as basic as suggesting a honeymoon destination to them.
If you need help on how to help them in the planning then take a look at how to plan a wedding.
7. Don’t flip flop
As much as it is rude to decline a wedding invitation after accepting it, it is also inappropriate to accept one after declining because as we said before, weddings need to be planned carefully.
Chances are that when you decline the invitation, you are removed from the seating arrangement and other wedding activities. Turning around to accept the invitation especially if you take some time to do so would mess up those plans and depict you as a flip-flop who is heaping unwarranted stress on the couple to be. So, after declining, be firm in your decision not to go.
8. Be there in another way.
You can’t make it in person, we understand that. But there are other ways you can make your presence known during the day.
You could for instance, send a video message that would be played during the wedding reception or you could send some thoughtful words to be read out by the MC to show that you felicitate with the couple.
Also keep in mind that video conferencing apps got us through the Pandemic and so might be able to get you through this as well.
9. Celebrate with the couple on another day
So you’re unable to celebrate with your close friend on that special day, that’s cool, there are other days in a year, about 364 of them. Pick one of those days and take the couple out and spend some time with them.
You can do this before the wedding but that’s not a very popular option because wedding plans might keep the couple quite busy.
Doing it after the wedding is a better option. The couple would be more relaxed at this point and it would also give them the chance to tell you what happened in the wedding.
Granted this won’t be as special as being there on their wedding day but it’s something and this something could go a long way.
For ideas on what to do with the couple check out fun things to do with friends.
Frequently Asked Questions.
1. How do you decline a friend’s wedding invitation?
You have to be honest about your reason for not attending and as much as possible tell them in person what this reason is. You should also tell them as early as possible and remember to send a gift even if you are not going to make it.
2. How do you politely decline an invitation sample?
3. Is it bad to not go to a friend’s wedding?
It isn’t, if you have a good enough reason. We lead different lives and so it is entirely possible that you have a conflicting engagement on the day amongst other reasons. It is however important that you reach out to the friend and explain that you won’t be able to make it and give them an honest reason why as best you can.
4. How do you decline a wedding invitation last minute?
It is important that you reach out to the couple promptly and personally. Apologize to them and give a short but honest reason why you have to decline their invitation.
When it comes to close friends, we should try as much as possible not to miss important days but if it cannot be helped, then it cannot be helped. It is however advisable to ensure that you have a reasonable excuse that even you would accept were you in your friend’s shoes.
And if your friend is not very understanding, bear in mind that they are going through quite a bit of stress at that moment so try to be understanding. Get involved in the wedding and try other methods to show that you are a supportive friend.
If however they continue this attitude after the wedding then you might need to reevaluate certain aspects of your relationship with them.
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