Vetoing the Self-Inviter: How to deny a requested invitation

Q: Someone uninvited has requested to attend a party that I am hosting. I was very careful in my choice of guest for this particular party. Can I politely decline the request?

A: Sure. Just say you are sorry, but you are at your guest limit this time and while you are flattered that he/she would like to be there, you just can’t do it. No one should ask for an invitation to a private party, so it is perfectly fine to decline the request.


  1. LM

    My fiancee received an invitation for a birthday party. His name was listed followed by “and guest”. I am infuriated. The fact we are engaged is common knowledge. We have bought a home together. Although I am not yet his wife I feel any invitation extended to one should be extended to the other by name. Am I justified in feeling slighted?

    • Nonnie Mowse

      Hi LM,

      If I might share a thought that ran through my head on this. There may have been no slight intended.

      More info needed. Was the invitation issued by someone your fiancee knows well, or just an acquaintance? In this age of privacy issues, maybe there was some shyness or discomfort about asking for personal information from your fiancee if they didn’t know him well.

      I have a chronic illness, and get frequent brain fog, and something a friend called ‘Forgetti Syndrome’. Maybe there was a situation and the more important thing was to get the invites out, like I remember ‘John Smith is engaged but I can’t recall her name, but I want her to come too’. Though I am pushing 60, and would have tried to put forth the effort to find out your name, not everyone is comfortable with this, or even knows it’s an option.

      Only you know the parties and personalities involved, and could determine if there has been a slight, or if they are just ‘Etiquette Challenged’. I’ve said on other threads here, things like this were part of my English classes in middle school, part of social/letter writing. It’s not taught in schools today. And I have forgotten much of what I learned, because I don’t get to use it.

      I hope it gets sorted out to your relief, and that you both go and have a fun time.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I think you are right to feel slighted. It may be that it wasn’t intentional, but that doesn’t really make it better. Even if they forgot your name, how hard would it have been to check? Unfortunately there’s not much you can do except send in your response with your name written as it should have been on the invitation.

  2. DC

    In early October my husband and I extended an invitation to a family of six to join us and our daughter for Thanksgiving. The response was not exactly clear. We were initially told they may be going out of town to visit family, but would let us know. A couple of weeks later we were told they weren’t going out of town, but that one of the parents of the family may have to work. A couple of weeks ago, in passing, the mother tells me that her husband made plans behind her back to go to his mother’s for Thanksgiving followed by “yeah, we’ll see about that.” She does not get along with her mother-in-law. Since, I haven’t heard another word about it.

    So, my husband and I planned on just having dinner for our family at home.

    Yesterday, however, I receive an email from the mother of the family asking if they can bring anything to Thanksgiving dinner.

    How do I politely tell her that we have made other plans? Would it be rude to do so since I did extend an invitation so long ago?

    • Alicia

      If you are just having dinner for your family at home adding these guests back in that did an unclear rsvp should be easy enough. That said as a hostess before excluding them you should have followed up and confirmed one way or another. Have them over enjoy thanksgiving

    • Jody

      It was rather rude of this other family to keep you on the hook for so long. I would be comfortable telling her something like “oh I’m sorry, since it seemed you had other plans for Thanksgiving we’ve made other plans.” If the mother asks for clarification you can mention the out of town family visits or the person having to work.

      Even if you’re just having dinner for your family, those are plans and you shouldn’t feel obligated to add in last-minute guests.

    • Elizabeth

      The last thing the family told you was that the husband made plans with his family. The wife wasn’t happy with it, but never told you that those plans were broken. As far as I’m concerned, they RSVP’d “no” and are now trying to change it. If you would like to have these people over and it wouldn’t put you out terribly to do so, you can certainly still have them. But there’s nothing rude with saying, “Oh! I’m so sorry – the last thing you told me was that you were going to your in-laws, so we made other plans! Maybe next year?”

  3. Madge

    I agreed to host my dear friend’s 50th birthday party. But, in the midst of planning, his girlfriend got upset about the party not reflecting her, complaining that most of the guests were my friends (also my friend’s friends, just not anyone she wanted to invite to the party). Her upset became so intense that I agreed with our friend to postpone our party to another time for our friend and our mutual friends and she would host her own party with her own friends. Our friend was relieved, expressed gratitude and his girlfriend was appeased. ———- It was difficult for us to postpone our party just one week prior, after all the effort and expense we had gone through, but our friend was relieved to find a way to appease his girlfriend. He was aware my/our friends would be told the party was postponed and I requested that he and his girlfriend be careful with the new invitations, so my guests didn’t accidentally get one and learn that there had been any difficulties. He assured me he would be mindful.
    Today, I learned that his girlfriend contacted my friends, personally via individual emails, and invited them to her party.

    I am quite upset about this and am not sure my friend realizes his girlfriend not only went against our agreement, but also did something I thought was an etiquette taboo. Given these people weren’t on her guest list and are good friends of mine, it seems rude she would make the contact.

    Am I reading this wrong or over-reacting?
    All of this transpired less than one week before the party and I am sitting here with decorations and party items feeling bulldozed.

    • Elizabeth

      It seems as though a person can really only have one 50th birthday party. You were going to throw it, but then girlfriend had a tantrum and now she’s throwing it. If you can’t return them, you might ask her whether she wants the decorations you already purchased. I would definitely not be throwing a party for someone who let their partner trample over what was going to be a nice gift.

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