How to Politely Decline an Invitation to a Wedding

You got a wedding invitation. Awesome! Oh, it’s from them? Eh. They aren’t gonna make it anyway. While you’re welcome to think this, please do not verbalize it. Weddings are a huge ordeal. From the flowers to the perfect men’s wedding bands to the guest list, it isn’t easy work. Even if you don’t like the people you’re getting the invitation from, you should respect the work required of them.

If this is your first wedding invitation to decline, you might need some help doing so tactfully. We’re here to help you politely decline, though. We’re going to assume you can rudely decline without any help.

Good General Rules

Make Sure You’re Sure

Maybe the invite caught you in a bad mood. Maybe you needed a snack. Maybe you weren’t feeling super social that day you walked to the mailbox. Maybe your engagement ring was too tight (whoops). Whatever it may be, sleep on it. Unless you really hate the person who sent it to you. Why did they even send it to you? Is it your ex trying to show you how good she has it now? In that case, toss that shit in the trash and move on with your life.



Be as Vague as Possible But as Specific as You Need to

Yes, we assume you’re a bit perplexed after that one. Let’s explain. Your best bet is to go light on the details, especially if they’re of a sensitive nature or you aren’t close to the couple. That being said, it’s rude to be vague to your friends. You don’t have to dive into all the intricate details, but just give enough that your friends understand you can’t make it for a genuinely serious reason.

Commit to a Decision

Especially if they’re your friends, the couple who invited you wants you to attend. If you’re going, awesome. Go. If you aren’t going, no worries. Commit to that. If you give some half-hearted “Yeah, I mean I want to…” and they try to convince you to come, it’s only going to be worse. Stand on your own two feet and say that you’re sorry, but you can’t attend. Anywhere in the middle is just going to get messy.



Who Are They to You?

If it’s your sister’s college roommate, there probably aren’t stakes here. On the other hand, if it’s your college roommate, things might get trickier.

If You Aren’t Close

Don’t sweat it. Shoot them a text that just reads “stop” like they’re one of those annoying auto-generated messages. No, please don’t do that. We’re kidding.

Look, it’s pretty straightforward. Check no on that invite, write them a nice little note of well wishes and send it back. Simple as that. Maybe throw in a gift card or something. The point is, be short and sweet and just politely decline. Don’t overthink this one.

Say Something Like This

“Thank you for your kind invitation. Unfortunately, our schedule won’t allow us to attend, but we wish you the best!” Something along those lines is a solid go-to for being to the point without being rude.

Maybe Not Something Like This

“No, Brad and Jessica, we do not want to spend thousands to go to Barbados to celebrate your doomed-ass marriage. Kind regards.”


Source: Lysenkov

If You Are Close

Here’s where things can get a little tricky. But, like when a passenger lands a plane with the control tower’s help, we’re here to talk you through it.

To start, don’t just check the “no” box and send it back. That much should be obvious, but just in case. Giving them a call is a great option. If you aren’t close, you don’t want to give unnecessary information. If you are close, take the time to go into at least some detail. They’ll likely be disappointed you can’t attend, but they’ll probably understand if you’re honest about the circumstances.

RSVP “no” as early as possible to help the couple. You should also send a wedding gift anyway if you’re close. Politeness says you should send a wedding gift even if you aren’t close. In this economy, though? Well, that’s up to your discretion.

If you can, celebrate the couple at some other point. It’s unfortunate that you have to miss the wedding, but doing something special goes a long way to making sure you maintain the friendship. You don’t have to throw them a second wedding — brunch will do just fine. Just find a way to celebrate what they mean to you and you’ll be all good.

Here’s the deal: The era of you dipping on Zoom weddings because you had “WiFi connectivity issues” is over. Honestly, that’s for the best. The downside? You can’t use internet issues to get you out of uncomfortable situations. You could go for the tried and true “lost in the mail” gambit, but we recommend honesty instead.