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Tactfully Declining an Invitation
Old 07-15-2014, 10:51 AM   #1
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Tactfully Declining an Invitation

I just declined a wedding invitation to the son of a friend. We used to hang out together when he was little and still today from time to time I still hang out with my friend (her son's all grown up and pretty much has his own life now). Also, they live about 1000 miles away which is where the wedding is.

It's his second marriage (I attended his first one). Before sending out the wedding invites, the couple had a pre-invitation post on Facebook (guess that's how things roll today.. ) saying if you want an invitation, fill out this private form.

My main question is, when you decline an invitation, is it customary to say why you are declining, or is just saying you will not attend okay?

How I handled things was first when I heard about the upcoming invitation, I sent out a couple of trial balloon emails to my friend (which were unanswered). Then looking at the situation, it just wasn't practical for me to attend.

So, today, I messaged the son on Facebook, saying that I would not attend, but that I'll do the next best thing which is to wait for when he posted a recap on Facebook. Then (which is true), I said that I enjoy the pictures he posts of him and his bride-to-be as they look like a happy couple. Then I asked if they have a wedding registry to be sure to send me a link.

I got a message back..him thanking me, and then saying "I hope you are doing well."

On one hand feel I what I did was very appropriate and on the other do feel a little guilty for not attending in person.

Your thoughts?
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:01 AM   #2
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I think you handled it very well. There is no reason to feel guilty. When a wedding involves a journey, only the closest friends are expected. The groom's response and inquiry about your well being is courteous and suggests that he is not upset.
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:07 AM   #3
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I think you handled it very well. There is no reason to feel guilty. When a wedding involves a journey, only the closest friends are expected. The groom's response and inquiry about your well being is courteous and suggests that he is not upset.
Thanks for the reassurance. I was afraid of making the trek and it might feel a bit awkward only knowing a few of the folks there, having traveled all the miles.

Yet at the same time, the guilt part is knowing how much someone showing up for a wedding means to the couple (kind of like folks showing up for a funeral).

Yes, I took his response too as courteous.

I'm sure too, the couple also just wants to know who to include or cross off on their list as some folks have a tendency to leave things in the air and not reply until the last minute
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:24 AM   #4
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I think you did fine.
As far as whether an excuse can/should be included when declining: I wouldn't feel obligated to explain, but I don't see any real problem with including an explanation, even if it isn't 100% the absolute truth. No harm done.

Quote:
"Moving parts in contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often, the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as empty, meaningless, or dishonest, and scorn to use them. No matter how pure their motives, they thereby throw sand into the machinery that does not work too well at best."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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Quote:
"Only a scoundrel or a fool tells the bald truth on social occasions."
-- Robert A Heinlein
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Old 07-15-2014, 11:49 AM   #5
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The excuse is an issue for sure. When I was working, I could blame my crazy schedule. As an ER, I can't use that excuse. If there is travel involved (which there usually is for me) could say it's not in the budget. But then, how to explain the expensive trip I just took? I could say I'm just not feeling up to it, but that will make people concerned for my health. Or I suppose I could be honest and say that we have grown apart over the years. Or that I have other priorities.

Recently I visited my home country after a 7 year absence. Relatives were very welcoming but wanted to know why I had waited so long to visit. The trust is that after my parents passed away, I had other priorities and needed a break from very frequent visits (up to 6 times a year). And I reminded them that the plane goes the other way, too.
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:03 PM   #6
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I would think that knowing you are 1000 miles away they didn't really expect you to come unless it worked out for you. They invited you because they wanted you to come, if you could, and didn't want you to feel left out if you did want to come. Other than family and super close friends I wouldn't really expect people to travel that distance, and would be pleasantly surprised if they did. You don't owe them an explanation, and they've got a lot more on their minds than to analyze why you aren't coming. Don't sweat it.
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:08 PM   #7
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In addition to the others remarks I'd also think that perhaps they sent you the invite more to make sure you would not be offended at not getting one.

Were I the groom I would certainly not be offended if a friend of one of my parents sent regrets for not traveling a thousand miles for my wedding. I'd certainly have more pressing things to think about.
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Tactfully Declining an Invitation
Old 07-15-2014, 05:29 PM   #8
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Tactfully Declining an Invitation

My sister's stepson is getting married in Sept. He's 29 and has completely transitioned his life to another city, far away. He was 13 when my sister married his widowed dad. She tried her best, but there has never been a close relationship. It's just cordial. I've been to many family gatherings and had minimal conversations with him, he does not have a "cousin" relationship with our sons, 27 and 30.

My sister wanted to invite many friends and family to the out of town wedding. The bride and her family wanted to keep the size manageable and my sister and BIL were very disappointed in how few people they could invite. It's not a cost issue, they offered to pay for additional guests and were told, no thank you.

So I told my sister you don't have to invite us, if you are limited in the number of invites, use them for people who are important to the groom. She knows that we are not close with her stepson at all and that we aren't going to come. The bride's family insisted that we get an invitation, for all 4 of us, because that's the appropriate thing to do. We will politely decline, I'll send a card and check for a wedding gift anyways.

If we were close to her stepson, DH and I would consider going. If this was a local wedding, maybe all 4 of us would go. My sister knows that we are careful spenders but if we wanted to go we would spend the money.

Even if we had not been invited, I would have sent a card and check, I'm happy for the couple. I always gave him graduation checks even though he barely spoke to us, he does write a nice thank you note.

This is all so awkward for my sister. In her world, all the friends get on a plane and go to out of town weddings and nobody blinks. She would so like to have it be that way for this wedding, but she couldn't even invite any friends.

Then there's the whole mixed marriage (Jewish/Catholic) issue. BIL's orthodox siblings won't go because mixed marriage is "wrong", the groom's sister is married to a rabbi and they have to get permission to attend.


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Old 07-15-2014, 05:31 PM   #9
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I would think that knowing you are 1000 miles away they didn't really expect you to come unless it worked out for you. They invited you because they wanted you to come, if you could, and didn't want you to feel left out if you did want to come. Other than family and super close friends I wouldn't really expect people to travel that distance, and would be pleasantly surprised if they did. You don't owe them an explanation, and they've got a lot more on their minds than to analyze why you aren't coming. Don't sweat it.

Traveling over 1000 miles to a relative or very good friends that live at the wedding location is one thing. Do you feel the same way about these new "destination" weddings. I kind of feel in those circumstances no one need feel obligated to attend. A little secret is at some of these fancy resorts if you get a wedding package and bring in enough guests, the bride and groom get all their room and food bills comped....that seems tacky all round.
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:16 PM   #10
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For the most part, if we can't get there in 4 hours by car, we don't go. There are exceptions of course but they're rare.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:05 PM   #11
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The invitations I've received only have a reply card asking you to let them know if you are coming or not and how many attending. I've never seen a space for an explanation as to why I couldn't attend. I've never had anyone ask me why I declined. For large events, like a wedding, usually there's a "A" list and "B" list regarding invitations. As soon as a "A" list respondent declines the invitation someone from the "B" list can be invited. I send a gift whether I go or not.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:19 PM   #12
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"I'm sorry, we can't make it." That's all I say. If someone is rude enough to ask why, just repeat yourself. They should catch on pretty quickly that they're committing a faux pas. I think even the etiquette mavens recommend that response, but I'm too lazy to Google it right now.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:48 PM   #13
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You were invited as a courtesy. Don't sweat the decline even one little bit.
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:49 PM   #14
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I think you handled it very well. There is no reason to feel guilty. When a wedding involves a journey, only the closest friends are expected. The groom's response and inquiry about your well being is courteous and suggests that he is not upset.
Well said.
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:39 PM   #15
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+1 to those who said the invite was a courtesy and not an expectation. No big whoop. Don't think an explanation is necessary.
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