x

Flow through your inbox

Flowrite turns your instructions into ready-to-send emails and messages across your browser.

Refresh if you want to submit another email.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join 80,000+ others

Portrait of a personPortrait of a personPortrait of a personPortrait of a person

Jul 11, 2022

Writing

How to politely decline an invitation

Wondering how to politely decline an invitation? Our how to politely decline an invitation examples and templates will help you learn dozens of polite ways to decline an invitation.

Blog writer

Samuli Pehkonen

Marketing

Blog writer

Blog image

Table of contents

Blog image

Have you ever been invited somewhere and a part of your brain says "I can't go" and a part of it says "you must"?

We hope that the invite is not this serious...

Sometimes you get invited to an event that you know you will not be able to attend, but you don't want to jeopardize your relationship with the host by declining their invite. Thus you might be wondering how to decline an invitation politely.

The first thing to understand is that you should not feel bad about declining invites to events you do not want to attend or that clash with another engagement you have. Whatever the case, you can employ tactful communication when declining the invite, which would improve how the host receives your message.

Obviously, your tone and approach would depend on what kind of relationship you have with said host, i.e., the way you would decline a close friend's invite may be different from how you would decline an invite from a person you have a more formal relationship with.

In this guide we show you how to politely refuse an invitation and even how to use Flowrite to turn down offers that are too good to be refused:

How to decline an invite politely

1. Reply promptly

The faster you reply, the better. That's because the longer you wait, the higher the risk of your message being poorly received, significantly when you eventually decline the invitation. So, to mitigate the disappointment, you should respond as quickly as possible.

Also, the host may be waiting for your response to finalize their budget, seating arrangement, program, etc., so be considerate and reply as quickly as possible.

2. Thank the host

Thanking the host reassures them that you appreciate their invitation and do not take it for granted. This should rule out the disappointment of you turning down their invitation. When you thank people for things, you invariably say that you appreciate them for the offering.

3. Explain why you will not be attending

If you have an engagement on that day of the event, this would be a reasonable explanation for why you will not be able to honor the invite.

4. Keep it short and to the point

Do not over-explain. If you want to have a broader conversation with the host in your response to the invite, ensure that you have addressed the main issue and given your answer first and foremost before delving into other subjects.

5. Honesty is the best policy

As a rule of thumb, avoid dishonesty in your feedback because being shady creates unnecessary loose ends in your response. If you cannot honor the invite, at least keep the host by being as truthful as possible.

6. Offer to send a representative

In a case where you cannot attend but can find someone to represent you, contact that person and make arrangements with them first before responding to the invite.

If your representative is willing, tell the host that you will not be able to attend in person but can offer them a representative. This is more appropriate in a formal setting.

Say you are the President of a Club; you can then offer to have your Deputy represent you. However, if you are invited to a party or some kind of informal event, your presence may not be substitutable, so you should not offer a representative.

7. Suggest another time when you can attend

In some settings, proposing another time or date may be appropriate. Say, in a situation where it's a one-on-one meeting and would not drastically affect logistics, you can offer other dates when you would be available and then apologize for any inconveniences.

9. Send a card or gift


It is thoughtful to send a gift or/and a card expressing your regret that you would not be attending and wishing the host success with their event.

10. Follow up after the event

Where possible, follow up after the event to ask how it went. This nice gesture will likely impress the host and establish you as a well-wisher. And that further eases the disappointment that comes with the declined invitation.

Polite ways to decline an invitation

Using words and phrases like "I am sorry," "I appreciate," "thank you," "honor," and so on, make your response sound more polite. Consider some examples.

  • Thank you for the invite. I am honored; however, I will not be able to attend because I have another engagement that day.
  • Sorry, I will not be able to attend because I am occupied on that day.
  • I appreciate your invitation, but unfortunately, I have a family meeting that will prevent me from attending.
  • Wow, thank you for inviting me. I would have loved to attend, but I will be out of town. Maybe some other time?
  • I am sorry to disappoint you, but I will be pretty busy that day. Can we reschedule?
  • I wish I could make it, but I am fully booked that day.
  • Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate and will not be able to attend. Do have a wonderful time!
  • I already have another commitment on that day. Can we reschedule? Sorry for any inconvenience.
  • That will not be a good time for me as I have some tasks to complete on that day. Thank you for your consideration.
  • I regret that I cannot honor your invitation as I will be quite busy that day. Hopefully, we can catch up soon.

Nice ways to decline an invitation

There are nice ways to decline an invitation. If you have a nickname for the host, you can use it in your response. That would make your response sound a lot more personal. Even after declining the invitation, try to end your response on a high note or with a forward-looking statement.

  • Pal, I'll have to decline. You know I'd have loved to attend if I didn't have another commitment. Anyway, I hope to catch up with you soon.
  • My dear, I'd have been happy to attend, but unfortunately, I have an engagement that day. Let me know how it goes!
  • Brother, I wish I could attend, but I will be occupied that day. I'm wishing you the best!
  • Sir, it would have been an honor to be your guest. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the event that day, but I trust it will be successful.
  • I'd be quite busy that day, so I can't attend, but I would love to see you and spend some time with you soon. Can we hang out later?

Funny ways to decline an invitation

At times a more light-hearted touch might be in order. Humour can be a great tool to lighten the mood when turning down someone you are close with. However, you should remember that sarcasm doesn't translate well in writing, so proceed with care when you are not 100% sure whether your joke will be a hit or miss. Also, when opting for 
funny ways to decline an invitation, you should never forget to be respectful.

  • Maybe in another life, but in this one, my boss would chop off my head for missing work that day.
  • Unfortunately, I cannot attend due to a medical appointment, but I'll be there in spirit. I hope ghosts are allowed?
  • That sounds like a lot of fun, but I can't attend because I am pretty busy. I unwittingly signed away my rights to have fun when I took this new job.  
  • Sorry, I have another event I am to attend. I wish I could be in two places at the same time, but my self-duplication device is under maintenance.
  • Please do not be angry that I am declining your invitation, but I'm already engaged and do not want to cheat on them.

Sample emails of how to decline an invitation politely

Now let's go over some samples to give you an idea of how to decline an invitation in the most polite way possible in different situations.

1. How to politely decline a business invitation

You may be invited to a business function or meeting but are not opportune to attend. Besides, you may have other priorities. This is normal. However, being polite in your response is essential as that would endear you to the host, which bodes well for your relationship with their business. People tend to recommend polite people more than those who aren't sensitive to the importance of tact.

Dear (Recipient's name),

Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your business function. I appreciate your offer. However, I am unable to attend because I will be out of town during that period. Perhaps we can get together again when I'm in town, and you can brief me on how it went.

I hope the business is moving well! I look forward to sharing ideas with you. Thank you again for your time and consideration. I wish you all the best!

Sincerely,

(Your name)

2. Declining a job interview invitation

Sometimes you apply for a job, but by the time you receive a response from them, you have already accepted a position elsewhere, and now the former company is offering you an interview. If you are sure you are satisfied with the current position, there is no need to waste your time attending the interview. It could also be that the job isn't a priority anymore and you have another engagement that you prioritize above the interview, or you are not interested in that job anymore. Either way, it is important to communicate that you will not attend in a polite manner. You may or may not be interested in working for that company in the future, but it makes sense to respond to them and inform them politely.

Dear (Recipient's name),

Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to an interview for the TV anchor job. I appreciate your offer. However, I have already accepted a position at another studio, so I will have to decline the interview.

I appreciate your consideration and hope you find the perfect candidate for the position soon.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

3. How to politely decline an invitation without giving a reason

Sometimes, you may have no good reason for declining an invite. However, it is still your right of choice to attend or not. You are not under obligation to supply a reason. It is possible to get your point across politely, even without supplying a reason.

Dear (Recipient's name),

Congratulations once again on your graduation! Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your graduation party. I appreciate your offer. However, I will not be able to attend at this time.

I trust you will do big things, and I look forward to attending your next celebration.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

4. How to politely decline an invitation to an event

If you are invited to an event that you cannot or do not want to attend, respond politely, which will impress the host. Here's an example of turning down an invite to a birthday party.

Dear (Recipient's name),

I hope this meets you well. Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your baby shower. I appreciate your invitation. However, I'll be quite busy that day as I am the Best Man at my friend's wedding this weekend. Anyway, I'll be sure to send a gift for (name of the person).Thanks for your understanding.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

5. How to politely decline a dinner invitation

Sometimes you have to decline a dinner invitation. The tone of your response would depend on the kind of relationship you have with the host. If you share an informal relationship with the host, say, the host is your sister inviting you to dinner, it may be a good idea to apply some humor and add more personal details. If the relationship is more formal, do not go into too much personal detail, but be sure to convey your point politely.

Hi (Recipient's name),

I hope this meets you well. Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to dinner. I appreciate your offer, but I have another engagement at that time. Additionally, I am on a strict diet and exercise regime, which is too bad because I look forward to your dinners.

Best regards,

(Your name)
Hi (Recipient's name),

I hope this email meets you well. Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to dinner. I appreciate your offer, but I have another engagement at that time. Additionally, I am on a strict diet and exercise regime, which is too bad because I look forward to your dinners.

I thank you once again for thinking of me, and I hope you find someone with a calorie deficit. I'm just kidding, (Recipient's name). No, seriously, I appreciate you! Can we reschedule for another day?

Best,

(Your name)

6. How to politely decline an invitation to a party

You may have been invited to a party you do not feel like attending or cannot attend due to other commitments. It could be an invite by someone you have a formal relationship with or someone with whom you enjoy an informal relationship.

The kind of relationship you have with the host and the type of party it is, formal or informal, will determine how you respond. For an invitation to a casual party by a friend, it is customary to be jovial in your response.

Responding to an invite to an end-of-year party at your workplace, however, should have a more formal tone.

Hi (Recipient's name),

It's great to hear from you. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm so pissed right now that I will miss the party due to another engagement I have on that day. Argh… I was looking forward to chatting and sharing the dance floor with you. No worries, I'll be there in spirit. Have a blast!

Best,

(Your name)
Dear (Recipient's name),

I hope this meets you well. Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your party. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun, and I feel very unlucky to miss out due to another engagement I have on that day. Hopefully I will be more opportune to attend the next edition of the party. Have fun!

Sincerely,

(Your name)

7. How to decline a wedding invitation

Weddings are a cause of celebration, so when declining wedding invites, the tone of your message must be positive and forward-looking.

Even if you cannot attend, it is a good practice to send a wedding gift and card wishing the newlyweds happy matrimony.

Hi (Recipient's name),

Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your wedding. I'm so excited for both of you. Weddings are one of my favorite events to attend, and both of you are two of my favorite people, so I regret that I will be out of town during that period.

I wish you the very best! Please send pictures!

Best,

(Your name)

8. How to politely decline an invitation to hang out

If someone, typically a close friend, asks you to hang out with them, declining their invitation can be a bit awkward. However, there are ways to soften the task. Usually, it is not about what you say but how you say it.

Hi (Recipient's name),

How are you doing? I hope this meets you well. I would've loved to hang out with you, but I'm busy this weekend. Anyway, I'm looking forward to spending time with you soon. Can we reschedule for another time?

Best,

(Your name)

9. How to politely decline an invitation during covid

You may have received an invitation during a period of social distancing. It is important to respond to the invite positively and not suddenly become a health adviser or doomsday prophet. State your reason for not attending and keep it going. You can reference the social distancing measures you are observing since the host should be aware of covid guidelines to be a responsible host.

Dear (Recipient's name),

I hope this meets you well. Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to your potluck. I appreciate your offer, but I'm still observing social distancing rules at this time.

I wish you all the best. Stay safe out there!

Sincerely,

(Your name)

10. How to decline a last-minute invitation

Suppose you receive a last-minute invite and do not have ample time or notice to prepare. In that case, you can respond by politely declining the invitation and informing the host that you would need a more extended notice period for subsequent invites.

Dear (Recipient's name),

Thank you for reaching out and inviting me to the dress rehearsal. I appreciate your invitation. However, this is a bit impromptu for me, so I will have to decline respectfully.

However, I will be happy to attend your subsequent dress rehearsals, provided I'm notified on time so that I can prepare.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Decline invitation email template by Flowrite

Flowrite is an AI writing assistant that turns your instructions into ready-to-send emails and messages. Our Chrome extension covers the email format, capitalization, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

In other words, you can focus on the message, and Flowrite will take care of the delivery. We dare to claim that it's the fastest way to decline an jnvite politely.

Our email template collection features dozens of templates to help you. To grasp how easy and quick it is to decline an invitation with Flowrite, check out the example declining an invite below.

Conclusion

As you have read, there are many ways to decline an invitation politely and soften the disappointment. Regardless of the particular option or combination you go for, however, you should accomplish these three things.

  1. First, let your message that you will not be attending be clear. Whether you choose to do that in a nice or funny way is your choice and probably depends on your relationship with the host.
  2. Second, let your message carry some kind of explanation, if possible, for why you will not be able to attend to help the host understand.
  3. Third, let your message end on a high, forward-looking note, if possible. This improves the tone of your message and further eases the disappointment that could come from the declined invitation.

The next time you need to decline that invitation, simply hop in here and choose one or a combination of the responses that have been shared in this piece, depending on what is best suited to the context of the invitation you would like to respond to.

Better still, why not try Flowrite's email invitation decline template to get it done right, faster, and better. Start exploring Flowrite to enhance your communication flow.

Supercharge your communication with Flowrite

Write emails and messages faster across Google Chrome.

Explore Flowrite

Share this article

Related articles

Cookie emoji

We use cookies to analyze site performance and deliver a better experience for visitors.

Got it!

Faster communication awaits

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.