Declining an invitation is a delicate process that should done with diplomacy and consideration for the person issuing the invitation. Since this falls under the heading of etiquette, there are rules for rejecting invitations. It's improper not to RSVP when invitations are issued requesting one. If you're unsure and maybe is one of the options, check the box and reply by the requested time in regard to an RSVP.
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For invitations out of town, respond within 10 days of the event. Thank him for the invite, and write that you're unable to attend because of a prior engagement. There is no need to go into detail unless, for instance, the invitation is for an affair at your mother's home. Under those circumstances, you might want to offer a brief explanation.
Respond within 72 hours of the event declining to attend to invitations or events that are held within your own city. It's acceptable to provide an explanation if you choose, but nothing too elaborate or untrue to the person who invited you, since the chances of running into her again is highly likely.
RSVP according to the instructions in the invitation. If the invitation asks that you send your RSVP through the mail, honour the request and send the response through the U.S. mail. If there is no preference stated in the invitation, respond with a letter declining the invite.
When sending the response through an e-mail, enter the name of the event and RSVP in the subject line of e-mail so that it isn't mistaken for spam. In the body of the email, compose your message and include your contact information.
If you're a couple and both parties can't attend, simply say so. Or if only one of you can attend, say something like, "Thank you for your kind invitation. I am able to attend; however, Holly, has a previous engagement and can't make it to the event."
Use the most polite speech to decline and invitation. With a brief apology, state that that you have a prior commitment and are unable to attend. Example: I'm sorry I can't attend your dinner party; I already have plans for that evening.
Always thank the person for her invitation before turning it down. After all, you want another invitation, and you want to invite her your next affair.
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