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How Do I Gracefully Excuse Myself from a Friend's Wedding?

by Zora Hughes

Typically, when a good friend is getting married, you are excited to attend the upcoming wedding -- unless there are extenuating circumstances that mean you can't. Perhaps the wedding is set for the one time of year your spouse gets vacation and you were planning to go overseas. Even worse is if your friend asks you to be in her wedding and you can't afford the expenses or simply don't want the hassle. In any case, you can gracefully get out of attending or being in your friend's wedding without losing the friendship.

Decline a Wedding Invitation

Inform your friend that you will not be able to attend his wedding when you receive a "Save the Date" card. Call and explain, letting him know how much you care about him and regret the circumstances. If the wedding is still several months off, your friend might think your plans could change. Tell him you will let him know if they do, but don't get his hopes up by acting like it is a real possibility if you know your plans are set.

Send the response card with the "decline" or "with regrets" box checked. This is official confirmation to your friend that you will not be attending her wedding. If she is a good friend, call again at this time and remind her how sorry you are that you will not be there, but that she'll be in your thoughts on her big day.

Send him a nice wedding present. All invited wedding guests should send the bride and groom gifts, advises Anna Post, Emily Post Institute spokesperson. Because you can't attend the wedding, go out of your way to get one of the nicer gifts on your friend's registry. It is a generous gesture that lets him know you care about him and his special day.

Decline a Wedding Party Invitation

Tell your friend in person if possible. No matter how uncomfortable you feel about it, sending an email or text message to say you won't be in your friend's wedding is cold. If you live far away from your friend, talk to her about it over the phone. Otherwise, tell her in person, where she can see your sincere regret about not being able to do it.

Explain as politely as possible why you are turning down his invitation. Emphasize how much he means to you and how happy you are for him, but that being in the wedding is not an option for you at this time. You could say something like, "I want to support you on your wedding day, but I can't commit to being your groomsman."

Give a brief explanation without going into details, unless you want to. You could simply say, "for financial reasons" or "I won't have the time to commit to the responsibilities."

Offer to help out in other ways. Ask your friend if there is another way you can help with the wedding, such as helping her find a venue or helping out with day-of activities, such as managing the gift table. This way, your friend knows that you want to support her and be there for her.

Warning

  • Avoid giving explanations that give your friend an opportunity to find a solution. Going into detail about not being able to afford a bridesmaid's dress, for example, gives your friend the opportunity to offer to pay for it, when the real issue is that you don't want to be in the wedding.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

  • Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images