How to Respond to A Declined Invitation in 2023

Events happen every day and we try to share that special moment with people we love and hold dear. When they, however, are unable to grace the occasion, we feel at a loss for words on how to respond to the unexpected turndown.

As it is rude to just ignore, you can start with something simple like thanking them for their response. If they are people you are close to or who are really needed at the event you are hosting, you can ask for a reason.

Some guests would want to know why they are not present, especially if they are a person of influence and were highly expected. If your relationship allows you can also tell them how you feel. Now, let’s dive properly into the article.

Thank Them For Their Response

The first and safest way to reply is by thanking them. This way you acknowledge the reply you have received and know that they will not be gracing your special occasion with their presence.

There are a few ways; You thank them for their reply and let you know in advance. It’s only courteous. Don’t really have to be happy that they are not going to be coming. Here few ways to reply:

  • Thank you for letting me know. You will be missed
  • It’s quite a shame but I am glad you informed me
  • I appreciate the heads-up. Do enjoy your event
  • I understand. I wish you could be there.
  • Your presence will be sorely missed.
  • I appreciate you telling me. We will miss you.
  • Although it is unfortunate, I am grateful that you told me.
  • Thank you for the warning. Enjoy the occasion.
  • I understand. I wish you were present.
  • We shall be really sorry to miss you. At the reception, I’ll make sure to have a drink for you.
  • Although I truly wanted you to be there, I understand that life happens. I’ll keep you in my thoughts
  • Quite sad. Have fun at your event.
  • What a turn of events, I say. Then I’ll see you later.
  • It’s really too bad. We will have to enjoy our ceremonies then.
  • What an unexpected turn of events! Maybe we will see later and have a drink.
  • I really appreciate you reaching out to me.
  • I appreciate you taking the time to inform me beforehand.
  • We’ll be able to attend more parties together, so don’t let it bother you.

If you are given a reason they can’t attend, try to incorporate that in your reply. Leaving it especially if it is something important will be vague, and rude and you would sound like you don’t care about them. For example;

  • I’m sorry about your daughter’s health. I do hope she gets better soon. We will miss your presence.
  • Oh, I can see how you can’t get out of this trip. Do have a safe trip. I will be sure to mention you at the event.
  • It’s sad that you can’t reschedule, as I can’t. We hope you will grace our occasion next time. Success as you embark on your endeavors.
  • The fact that you reached out to me means a lot.
  • Thank you for taking the time to inform me in advance.
  • I totally get that. It’s okay.
  • Well, there will be many more celebrations in the future. We can enjoy them all together.
  • Thank you for keeping in touch. I understand.
  • I’m grateful for your response. We will have many more events in the future.
  • I totally understand. Perhaps I will pay you a visit later. I hope everything works out fine.
  • How dreadful. I was completely unaware. I will put a calla cross later and see how you are doing. Take care.
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Ask For A Reason

You might be advised to leave the matter be as they have declined and they owe no reason or their presence bit for those close to you, it is alright.

For example, your best friend, a close colleague, someone with who you are more than friends, and with whom you share a cordial bond. While you are at it, be careful not to sound desperate or needy.

You have to respect their decisions as you are only asking to know how they are faring.

  • I’m sorry to hear you won’t be able to come. Is there any particular reason?
  • Oh, that’s not what I expected. Is anything the matter?
  • I regret learning you won’t be able to attend. Is there a specific cause?
  • Oh, I didn’t anticipate that. Is there something wrong?
  • That’s sad. Is there anything that’s hindering me from coming? I was looking forward to seeing you.
  • What a shame. Do you mind me asking why?
  • It’s sad. Is there anything preventing you from arriving? I had been anticipating seeing you.
  • Why is that? Would you mind if I ask why?
  • That is very disappointing. I had high hopes that you could attend. Would you mind if I ask you why you won’t be there?
  • Is there anything I did that’s keeping you away from the party? You are like a sister to me, I really wanted you to be there.
  • Your being able to attend was something I really wanted. Would it bother you if I asked you why you won’t be there?
  • Have I done something that’s preventing you from coming? I was really hoping that you would be there as you are one of my best pals.

Also, you can go a bit deeper without it seeming like you are probing. A lot goes on in people’s lives every day and no matter how much we love them we can’t always know every single thing at every time.

Maybe they are unable to attend for several sad reasons. For example, if you are inviting someone dealing with the death of a child to a baby shower, they will most likely decline even if they are happy for you. Try to frame your responses like this:

  • Is there anything you would change about the way things are now?
  • Do you have any suggestions for changes to our current arrangement?
  • Is the timing inconvenient for you, or is there something else preventing you from attending?

If it’s on a wedding invitation you can ask:

  • Would you prefer a different seat or would like me to alter the high table arrangements altogether?
  • Would you prefer being a guest if you don’t want to be a VIP or have a seat at the high table?

Let’s use a professional scenario where an invitation for a business partnership is declined. While you might worry that they don’t want to partner with you or don’t see you as up to their standards, they might just have limited resources and staff to handle that project. In that case, you can ask:

  • Will you be able to work with a smaller number of people on this project?
  • Will a sixty to forty percent rate on resources work for your team?

With pointed questions like this, they will be able to tell you the real reasons for declining your invitation.

Accept Their Responses

How to Respond to A Declined Invitation

If you were really looking forward to them coming it will put a damper on your plans, and feelings. The next thing you might want to do after that is lash out at them or say something mean or rude so they can feel your hurt.

The truth is, that’s not the best and it is wrong on so many levels. No matter how hurt you feel, reply with a positive note. Don’t give off a nonchalant vibe. Just positive. Here are some examples:

  • No sweat. Some other time then.
  • I really wanted you to be at the training. Shall I bring some materials over later?
  • The second edition of this talk will be happening in spring. Would you be more interested then?
  • No problem. Then at another time.
  • I was really hoping you would attend the training. Would you want me to bring anything over for you later?
  • Next month there will be another occasion similar to this one. Would you come for that one instead?
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Using replies may be heard because you are still hurting and might still feel like you are rejected but it is better than destroying the relationship you share with whoever declined the invitation with rude words.

With time you can forgive and forget and give them another chance by inviting them again.

  • Since you can’t make it, maybe you and I could do something together later on.
  • Thanks for texting to let me know. When you are in a more comfortable and stable place, perhaps we can work on another project.
  • I will send you the pictures. Maybe you’ll be able to attend next year.
  • We will have video coverage of the whole wedding and a big photo album later. You can check it out later. We’re sorry that you couldn’t come.
  • Perhaps you and I could do something together since you won’t be present for the ceremony next week.
  • Thank you for letting me know. We can always do something different in the future.
  • I can fax you a few documents from the seminar later. You take care now.
  • I understand your plight and I am sorry you can’t come. I will try to see if I can be of help in every way possible
  • When we take our next camping vacation, I’ll be sure to let you know in advance.
  • I am sorry I couldn’t send the invitation earlier. I will endeavor to do so next time. Thanks for your honesty.
  • Since you won’t be at the ceremony next week, perhaps we might do something together.
  • I appreciate you telling me. In the future, we can always make a different choice.
  • I can fax you a few seminar-related documents later. See you soon.
  • I am sorry you can’t make it, but I am aware of your situation. I try to be of aid in any way I can.
  • I’ll make sure to let you know in advance when we go on our next camping trip.
  • I apologize for not sending the invitation sooner. Next time, I’ll make sure to do it. Thank you for being sincere.

By inviting them again, you are letting them know that even if they didn’t honor the invite the first time, you don’t hold it against them and you are still willing to spend time with them.

After all, they might have declined for reasons that don’t involve you. For example, if they are sick, or recovering from an illness, if they had something else scheduled on that day that can’t be postponed or if they don’t have anything appropriate to wear.

Put your legs in their shoes and you will come up with a hundred reasons. Best to forgive and let them know that they are always welcome to any other programs you might have.

Let Them Know How You Feel

How to Respond to A Declined Invitation

If they are very close to you, you can really explain how you feel. Tell them you feel hurt about their absence and hear what they have to say. It’s okay to do this by email, text, or phone call. These replies are really good if they declined without a reason:

  • I would really like to have you there and I feel bad that you won’t be able to attend. Is there anything I can do to get you to attend?
  • I know you as someone who loves parts so I am really shocked that you turned down this one. What’s wrong?
  • Do you have anything else on that day because you are one of my best pals and having you at my wedding will be really big for me?
  • Would really like to share that happy moment with you. Is there anything I can do to get you to be in attendance?
  • You are not one to say no to a party, especially not one I am hosting. Do you need anything that’s stopping you from coming?
  • I regret that you won’t be able to attend since I would really like to have you there. Can I do anything to persuade you to come?
  • I know you love parts, so I’m genuinely surprised that you declined this one. What’s the issue?
  • Do you have any other engagements on that day? Having you at my wedding will mean the world to me because you are one of my closest friends.
  • I’d love to share that joyous moment with you. Can I do anything to persuade you to come?
  • You don’t typically decline invitations to events, especially ones that I am throwing. Is there anything you require that would prevent you from coming?
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In the case that you haven’t spoken in a while, it’s possible you have offended them. You can try these to know the state of things:

  • I was really surprised to see you declined my invitation. Did I do anything wrong?
  • I hope I haven’t done anything to warrant the rejection of my party. I would really appreciate it if you came.
  • I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you won’t be coming. If I have done anything wrong I will call later so we can talk it out.
  • Your turning down my invitation truly surprised me. Has anything gone wrong?
  • I hope I haven’t done anything to deserve my party’s rejection. Your presence is so important to me.
  • The thought that you won’t be attending escapes me. If I’ve messed up in any way, I’ll phone later so we can work things out.

For more formal settings, you can say:

How to Respond to A Declined Invitation

  • We have received your decline of the proposal. We wish to discuss how we can move from here as we want to continue to pray with you.
  • We were disheartened to see you turn down our invitation to the gala in a few weeks. Are there any particular reasons you won’t be able to make it?
  • Your response was far from our expectations as you are one of our closest associates. Do wish you to make your reasons public. We are open to them.
  • We’ve gotten word that you reject the offer. We want to continue praying with you, therefore we want to talk about how we can get from here.
  • We were disappointed to learn that you declined our invitation to the gala in a couple of weeks. Do you have any specific excuses for why you won’t be able to attend?
  • Considering that you are one of our best friends, your response was considerably below what we had anticipated. I do hope you will reveal your justifications. We are available to them.


That concludes our topic on declined invites. Small tip: while you are replying, try not to make anyone feel bad by bringing up other people who will be others, making it seem like they owe you.

Talk things out if you really want them and don’t burn any bridges because they declined one invite. That said, have fun at your event!

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