How to decline a Hen Party invite

Let’s face it, many of us at some point in our lives have received an invite to a bachelorette party that, for one reason or another, we would rather not attend. Here are my best recommendations for how to deal with the often delicate situation of saying “No”

Be Honest

The truth will set you free

They say honesty is the best policy and I agree… to a point. If you genuinely aren’t able to make it because of prior commitments, then it’s easy to honestly decline.

It can get a little trickier though if your reasons are a bit more personal. It’s worth remembering here that most of your correspondence is with the organiser at this point. So, it might be slightly easier for you to be honest with her. For example, if you can’t afford it, you can say to the bridesmaid

“Listen, it’s been a tough year for me so I’m not going to be able to afford to come, but it sounds amazing and I hope everyone has a great time!”

You aren’t accusing the organizer of overspending and you aren’t making anyone feel guilty.

Or, if you have an issue with one of the other guests, you can still be honest with the bridesmaid (as long as she isn’t a friend or close connection to said guest) in a way that keeps the bride in the middle of the planning.

“As much as I’d like to think we could be civil, I think there’s just a little too much history between X and I, and the last thing I want is for there to be any drama on (the bride)’s special weekend. So, I think it’s best if I give it a miss, but I can’t wait to hear all about it!”

Basically, try your best to be honest as much as you can, but if that’s not really an option…

Have an Excuse

The go-to response for avoiding a difficult conversation. I’m not promoting that you lie through your teeth, but sometimes a little white lie is needed to spare people’s feelings and avoid unnecessary drama.

There are some rules you should think about if you’re going to do this though.

  • Firstly, don’t involve anyone you haven’t informed. The last thing you need is to blame your sister and she bumps into the bride at the mall and accidentally puts you in it.  
  • Make the excuse good and not something you could get out of easily. A dentist appointment doesn’t really work when you have 4 months’ notice.
  • Be careful on social media. If you said you had to go to your cousin’s wedding that weekend, do not post a picture of you on the same day, enjoying the newest episode of Love Island with your slippers on and a glass of Chardonnay.

The best plan is to make alternative arrangements (with a separate group of friends) and say they were booked first. You aren’t lying about being busy, you’re just fudging the invite date a little. It means you don’t have to worry about getting caught out or what you’re doing on social media.  

Plan to see the bride another time

schedule in a coffee date

A great way to soften the blow, especially if you are dealing with the bride directly, is to decline but immediately make plans to see her one on one and celebrate another time.

“I’m so sorry I won’t make it, but I cannot wait to catch up and hear all about it! What are you doing on (specific date)?”

IMPORTANT – if you are close to the bride, then make sure you set this plan in place and don’t leave it as “catch up soon”. That will seem insincere and will leave her feeling like you don’t really care.

Offer to take part in another way

Whether you can’t go or don’t want to go for whatever reason, offering up another way to take part can help you feel more involved and let the bride know that you care. This doesn’t mean you have zoom call for every activity. There are little things you can do to still show you are thinking of her.

Such as:

  • Pay for a drink for the bride or round of drinks
  • Submit a story for “How do you know the bride?” or a picture for “What age was the bride
  • Write in the scrapbook before the weekend (if there is one)
  • Send a box of cupcakes/cookies/another food gift to the venue (check with the organiser about the food situation first)
  • Offer to buy one of the decorations or games

Top Tips

Some global rules apply no matter which of these you decide to go with.

1. Compliment the planner

Unless you have a genuinely good reason to dislike whoever has organized the weekend or their plans, give them their due and recognise their efforts. Planning a bachelorette can be a difficult and overwhelming process. They will (hopefully) be doing their best to keep lots of people happy and juggling a lot of tasks. Ending your decline with “It sounds like it’s going it be amazing” or “You’ve worked so hard, she’s going to love it” is a great way to keep the organizer on side. Trust me, she’s much more likely to accept your reasons (and relay them nicely to the bride) than if you accuse her of making everything too expensive or are generally non – committal and dismissive of what she is trying to do.

2. Be genuinely apologetic

The bride for one reason or another has taken the time to add you to a select list of people she would like to celebrate with. Be respectful of her and her decision by making sure you are sincere and apologetic that you can’t (or won’t) go. Reach out to her on the date of the weekend and wish her well and thank her for thinking of you. If you want to avoid burning bridges, treat it as if it’s something you are genuinely sad to miss (even if you aren’t).

3.  Remember, it’s not about you

This is important. It’s very easy to get defensive and irritable when you disagree with what has been planned or you feel like you are being left out. This happens a lot with budget issues. The organizer will usually try to ask everyone about their budget and put out a rough plan right at the start. If that budget suits most people but it puts you in a position where you can’t go, don’t get angry. It’s the best thing for the bride and if you are really her friend then you will want her to be happy to enjoy a great weekend.

Likewise, if something is planned that you don’t want to do, like rock climbing or pole dancing or a stripper or an obstacle course, you shouldn’t use that as a reason not to go. Keep your friend, the bride, at the forefront of your mind when you are making this decision and you won’t go too far wrong.

Happy Henning!

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