If you have been invited to a wedding and you can't or don't want to attend, sometimes declining the wedding invitation is the only option. In some cases it will be easy to explain why you don't want to attend, but in many cases you may not want to.
Regardless of the reason you probably want to politely decline the wedding invitation to keep on good terms with the person.
What is the best way to do this? Here are a few tips:
1. Act Now - Whatever you do, it is important not to delay replying to the invitation. A wedding isn't like a party - the couple have many things to plan and they need to know how many people will be there. So you cannot just ignore it if you don't want to go - at least, not if you want the couple to speak to you again!
2. Declining A Formal Wedding Invitation - If the invitation is formal it will be worded in the third person. E.g. "Mr & Mrs William Brown invite Ms Jennifer Scott to the wedding of their daughter Bridget to Jeffrey Thomas on Saturday, May 20th ..."
This kind of invitation requires a written reply. If there is no reply card or it is blank for your own note, this is a suitable form of words:
"Ms Jennifer Scott regrets that she is unable to accept the kind invitation of Mr & Mrs William Brown for Saturday, May 20th."
If you happen to know the bride or groom well, simply returning the card or sending such formal regrets can seem very cold. In this case you may want to call your friend so that they hear it from you first. Or send the couple an informal note a few days before you mail your formal regrets to the bride's parents.
3. Do You Have A Good Reason? There are two types of reasons for declining wedding invitations: good reasons and bad reasons.
Good reasons are the ones you should tell them about, where you very much want to go to the wedding and you are genuinely upset that you cannot. This would be something like an important previous commitment, for example another wedding or family reunion that you already accepted to go to, an expensive vacation you have already booked, or medical reasons (yours or close family).
All you need to do here is call or write a note explaining why you cannot go, or add a line on the reply card. If the reason is a question of priorities then it is often better not stated. This includes situations where you don't want to spend the money (unless the wedding is a great distance away), you don't want to take the kids out of school, your ex-spouse is going, you don't get along with the bride/groom or their family, you went to 6 weddings this year already and you'd like to do something else with your weekend, you just don't like weddings, etc.
In this case you can simply send a note saying "Thank you for the invitation to your wedding. I'm sorry I cannot be with you on your special day but I hope you have a wonderful day and a very happy life together." If you know the couple well, it is also a nice touch to send a congratulations or best wishes card right before the event. Say again that you are sorry you cannot be there and hope to celebrate with them after the honeymoon. You could send a gift too, but this is a matter of choice.
Whatever your reasons for saying no, remember that in most cases the couple will invite more people than they can accommodate. They are expecting and even hoping that some people will turn them down. So unless you are very close to them there is no need for explanations and certainly no reason to feel guilty about declining a wedding invitation.