Sample Letter:How To Say No To An Invitation

What You Say When You Want To Decline An Invitation Because of a Previous Commitment
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D


Thank you ever so much for your invitation to (describe invitation).

I am grateful that you included me (us) among your guests for this special occasion. If I (we) could make it, I (we) certainly would because it sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately  we have a prior commitment that we must keep.

I’m sure that (describe event) will be memorable, and we are truly sorry to miss it.  Do keep me (us) on your list, because I (we) look forward to seeing you again very soon.

I appreciate your thinking of me (us).

Warmest regards,

Now for a some brief advice about writing a note or letter for this kind of situation.

One. The individual who invited you may be very disappointed, and your decision may wound feelings. Some people have trouble with rejection, and you certainly want to come across as wishing that you could accept.  You probably don’t want him or her to decide never to invite you again. That can happen. So your message must strike just the right note of sincere appreciation and regret.

Two. Don’t explain what your prior commitment is. I know some books recommend this, but disagrees.   The individual who invited you may think his or her invitation was more important than the one you chose. advises you not to invite this kind of calculation: Do not explain. Do not elaborate.

Three. Sign off by sending best wishes, and reiterating how grateful you are.

Letter-writing advice for expressing your regrets.  Keep it brief.  Don’t elaborate. Make it sincere.

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—Gene Griessman is an award-winning professional speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, contact us at 404-435-2225 or Learn more about Gene Griessman at and

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