You may want to accept every invitation that comes your way, but that’s simply unrealistic and unattainable. While you may want to attend and honour as many of the invitations you get, there are some cases where you simply can’t accept and would have to decline the invitation by email.
There are chances that this has happened to you more than once, and in a bid to not upset the person, you’ve gone against your desires and honored the invitation. In the long run, this will be detrimental to you.
Do you have issues declining invitations? Do you worry about hurting people’s feelings so you go ahead and accept the invitation even when you don’t want to? We’ve all been down that road before and it’s not healthy to keep that up for long.
The good news is there are ways you can decline an event via email that doesn’t leave you feeling like that. If you do it with honesty, sincerity and respect for the recipient, you can successfully decline an invitation by email without fear of hurting or jeopardizing your relationship with the recipient.
An invitation for a meeting or an event is simply what it is, an invitation. No rule says you have to be there. It’s an invitation and not a court order. Of course, the person inviting you would want you to attend, but it’s ultimately up to you if you’d like to attend or not. If you have other engagements, appointments or you simply don’t want to attend, it’s within your right to simply decline the invitation.
You may think declining an invitation to an event is letting the host down, but that’s usually not the case. If you were an integral part of the planning or you already committed to attending, then declining an invitation by email isn't letting anyone down.
The key to declining an invitation is in doing it well beforehand- as soon as you’re sure you won’t be attending and doing it respectfully. In doing this, the organizer would be grateful for the heads up and would know how to further optimize their plans without you.
How to Decline Invitation by Email
Here are some of the guidelines you need to know when writing to decline an invitation by email.
1. Do not Wait to Reply
Whenever you get an invitation to an event and you’re sure you won’t be attending, it’s best to make sure the recipient knows about this as soon as possible. This is extremely helpful as your lack of response may be considered a “Yes” to the invitation. If you let the organizer know about your decision immediately, it helps them plan better.
So, if you’re going to decline an invitation, the earlier it is done, the better.
2. Thank the Convener
When declining an invitation, it’s important to do it with grace and respect, this means thanking the convener for organizing the meeting or event. Thank them sincerely for thinking highly of you and inviting you to their event.
3. Be Truthful about Your Reasons
When declining an invitation to an event, you must be honest and straightforward about your reasons for declining. You don’t have to go into great detail and explain the nitty-gritty of the reason behind your decision.
Don’t go overboard with explaining why you can’t make it. Doing this just makes you seem guilty as though you’re trying to justify your made-up reasons for declining. Simply saying that you had other engagements already scheduled for that day is enough.
4. Always Try to Reschedule.
If this is an invitation for a one-on-one meeting and not necessarily an event, it’s best to start the process of rescheduling in the same email you used in declining the invitation. This way, the convener knows you’d like to discuss the agenda for the meeting and you’re not just trying to blow them off.
If it’s an event or a get-together with multiple people, this is not an option.
5. Send a Gift if the Event Calls for it
If you’re declining an invitation for an event such as a birthday party or a ceremony, you should send the present you’d send if you were attending. This further translates that you’d like to be there, but for reasons, you couldn’t.
If you’re declining an invitation for a meeting you should ignore this option.
6. Make a Follow-up Call
If you declined an invitation to an event or a party, you should call or send a follow-up email to show your concern even with your absence. In a follow-up call, you express your deep regrets about missing the event and say your congratulations on the occasion.
Email Sample on how to Decline Invitation to an Event
There are different scenarios where you’d need to decline an invitation to an event. Every scenario is unique to each event and individual. But here are some samples on how to decline invitations to events.
Email Sample 1: Decline Invitation to an Event
Dear Jason, How are you? I hope this email finds you well. Thank you so much for inviting me to your birthday party. While I’d love to attend, I regrettably have to decline as I’ll be out of town at a conference that day. I hope you have a wonderful birthday! Always, Jane
Email Sample 2: Decline Invitation to an Event
Dear Isabel, Congratulations on your promotion! I’m so excited to see you advance your career! Thank you for inviting me to your celebration party, but I’m sorry I’m going to have to decline as I’ll be out of town visiting my parents that weekend. I’d like to go take you out to dinner if you’d like some time soon, and you can tell me all about your new role! I wish you success in this new position. Regards, Jacob
Email Sample 3: Decline Invitation to an Event
Dear Simon, I hope this email finds you well. I was excited to learn about the get-together with the guys from college. Unfortunately, I have to decline as I’m going to be out of town that weekend for a work commitment. I was looking forward to seeing the guys! I hope we get the chance to do this again soon. Sincerely, Arthur Blade
Email Sample 4: Decline Invitation to an Event
Dear Jennifer, Thank you for inviting me to your company’s end of year party. I regret to inform you that I’d have to decline as I’m going to be on vacation with my husband that weekend. I’d like to get dink with you sometime soon to catch up. Regards, Jane Doe
Email Sample 5: Decline Invitation to an Event
Dear Bruce, Thank you for thinking about me and inviting me to Daniel’s graduation party. Sadly, I’ll be unable to attend as I’m taking the kids to visit their grandfather. Please send Daniel our congratulations on this wonderful achievement and convey our disappointment in not being able to attend. I’m sure it’s going to be a swell party. Warm Regards, Samuel Jack
When Should You Decline an Invitation to an Event?
The simple answer to this is “Whenever you feel like it”. If you don’t feel like honouring an invitation, you shouldn’t for the sake of pleasing the person inviting you.
There are dangers associated with people-pleasing that are prominent even in the professional sectors. Declining an invitation to an event shouldn’t be something you hold off on for fear of upsetting the other party involved.
Here are More Ways to Decline Invitation to an Event
There are different scenarios where you might need to cancel an invitation to an event. Here are some popular phrases you may employ when writing an email to decline an invitation.
I’m going to have to decline your invitation as I have another engagement scheduled for the same day. Regrettably, I won't be able to make it to dinner this weekend as I have a family event planned. If you'd like, we can do it next weekend. That sounds extremely fun, but I'm going to have to decline as I have something else going on that weekend. Thanks for inviting me to your party! But I'm going to have to decline as I've been advised by my doctor to avoid large gatherings. If you'd like, we can have a quiet dinner at my place or yours. Thank you so much for inviting me to your party! Unfortunately, I'm going to have to decline as I'll be on a family vacation that weekend. Do have a wonderful time.
While you may want to attend every event you’re invited to, you simply can’t honour all of them. You may have other plans for that day, you may have a work event you simply can’t blow off or you may simply be too exhausted to attend. It’s better to completely decline an event instead of attending simply to please the convener.
Also, you may think the best way to decline said invitation would be to leave the request unanswered. This is worse than declining. If you do this to people that invite you to events, you may never get another invite from them. In this article, we list a step by step process to decline an invitation without offending anyone.