Bachelorette parties are one of the few pre-wedding events that gives the bride an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated with her closest crew. Since inclusion to this party is limited to a select few, including the bridal party and occasionally some additional friends, it can feel harder to turn down this exclusive invite. But, work conflicts, expensive travel costs, or sometimes not just feeling up to a huge party weekend can make some invitees want to turn the invitation down.
While it's not always the most pleasant of RSVPs, you are within your right to say no to a bachelorette party invitation. "The reason why this is a difficult discussion is innately we do not like to let folks down. We really want to be there for them," shares Elaine Swann, founder of The Swann School of Protocol. "It is uncomfortable to have to decline an invitation for something that's so special."
Want to know the best way to approach the tricky conversation? Ahead, we turn to etiquette experts to give us their tips to decline the invitation in a polite and thoughtful way.
Meet the Expert
While it may be a difficult conversation, make sure not to put it off to the last minute. Planning a bachelorette requires understanding exact head counts to budget and plan events so bowing out too late will make the situation worse. "If someone does not want to attend a bachelorette party, the first thing they need to do is let the host know quickly and expeditiously," advises etiquette expert Diane Gottsman. "People tend to put things off when they’re uncomfortable and it makes everything worse."
What to Do If the Party Is Too Pricey
Studies show that the average bachelor and bachelorette party will cost guests $1,500 in 2022. Understandably, those expenses can be too much for some invitees. It's perfectly understandable to say "no" to an RSVP due to the price tag, but make sure to approach it in the right way. "Connect with the bride and whoever is responsible for planning, and let them know that you won't be able to attend. Be honest if at all possible and forthcoming," recommends Swann. "The key is to not place blame when you're sharing. Instead of saying it's too expensive, the best phrase would be 'It's not in my budget' or 'I'm not financially able to do so.' That's different than saying it's too expensive because that feels like we're placing blame."
Gottsman adds, "It’s not necessary for them to divulge the reason if it’s going to embarrass them, or if they’re uncomfortable. But, they can certainly say, 'It sounds like fun, but a little steep for my budget right now.' People definitely do understand. Especially friends and family who want the best for you and don’t want you to struggle."
If you are unable to afford the bachelorette, Swann recommends finding a way to make it up to the bride. "See if there's something that you can do together," she offers. "If you are in the same city, offer to do something together that you can afford, whether it's lunch, a coffee date, or getting your nails done or something to that effect. Say, 'Let's take a raincheck together and celebrate privately.' If you're not local and live far away, then offer to contribute in a way that's affordable to you. Maybe you can say, ‘Listen, I'm not going to be able to attend, but I at least want to make sure that I send some money along to buy your first round of drinks or contribute to your meal.'"
What to Do If You Have a Schedule Conflict
If you have work or another conflict with the bachelorette party dates, it's completely allowed to honor those commitments. "If it's the truth and you have a schedule conflict, tell the truth," advises Swann. "My recommendation is to embrace that awkward moment. Let that individual know that you have a conflict, that you won't be able to attend, and still allow your presence to be felt by some sort of contribution and doing your part financially."
Gottsman advises that you don't have to overshare in your response. She says, "It’s not necessary to give any personal reasons why you cannot join the party. Just say something simple like, 'Unfortunately, I have a conflict on that night but I know it will be lots of fun.'"
What to Do If You Just Don't Want to Go
In some cases, a bachelorette party might not align with your lifestyle. "If it’s just not your thing, you can say to your friend, 'I’m going to contribute, and I’ve got nothing against it, but I am going to skip this one,'" recommends Gottsman. "If there is a religious reason or you are not comfortable with liquor, you can make a valid excuse. You may not completely be comfortable with some of their shenanigans. Just make it a point to stay nonjudgmental and upbeat."
However, Gottsman adds, "If you simply don’t want to go, it’s probably most important to take one for the team and do it. You can opt to leave early rather than skipping it completely."