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I have read the related questions on "how to politely reject a wedding invitation", but my case is different.

In my Sri Lankan culture/tradition, the invitation is given by personally visiting the cubicle, not by email. In this case, how to politely decline it?

One suggestion I have been given is to give them a card with a note thanking them for the invitation, along with a little gift and an apology stating that I cannot attend due to other commitments.

There are a number of cultural issues that I am trying to avoid in the workplace:

  • Not accepting the invitation means disrespect. It is like saying, "Hey, I don't care what you said" or "I don't have time to care". This may affect promotions and salary increments too.

  • Accepting the invitation and not going to the party, also shows off disrespect to the money and the effort he/she spent for you. This seems rude.

  • Not giving a gift. This does not show any disrespect, but indirectly shows that you are financially weak and not suited to attend parties of their social status.

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    I actually don't know much about the culture to reply answer the your question "does accepting the invitation mean anything?" , seriously that is culture specific question, But wait I'll find the answer somehow and reply. – sandun dhammika May 12 '17 at 5:36
  • I don't think you can really "reject the invitation", you can just say you cannot come. Rejecting the invitation itself is like someone saying "you are allowed to come to my party" and you saying "no I'm not". – Erik May 12 '17 at 7:02
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question seems to be about general behaviour within a specific culture and not about navigating the workplace – HorusKol May 12 '17 at 7:19
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    For those voting off topic, this question is squarely in the wheel house of topics that were intended when this site was originally conceived. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 12 '17 at 14:59
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    @sandundhammika I have created a post on meta requesting to reopen your question, because I think this is a useful question to have here. workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4512/3192 – Masked Man May 25 '17 at 9:42
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From my experience with the Indian culture1, there is no reason to worry about these wedding invitations from colleagues. You just need to handle the social interactions with some finesse, which is not too hard.

I have received over 50 such invitations over the years, and have attended a grand total of ZERO weddings among them. This has had no impact at all on my career or relationships with colleagues.

It is customary to give the invitation cards to every team member, but everyone understands this is done mostly out of courtesy. Unless you have a close friendship with the colleague, he2 does not really expect you to attend. If you do attend, however, you will be welcomed all the same.

If you attend the wedding, you should give a gift. Not doing this brings a bigger social shame than just people thinking you are financially weak. You will be considered a freeloader, who attended only for the free food.

The gift need not be something extravagant but also not too cheap. You should choose something proportional to your rank in the company and/or your social standing (there is usually a strong correlation between the two, but not always).

Now, we come to handling the social aspects in the workplace if you don't want to attend. Don't decline the invitation right after the colleague hands you the invitation card because that is rude. Congratulate him, read the card and have some small talk regarding the wedding. For example, "what does the girl do?", "oh, the wedding is in Colombo. Do you go there by flight or train?", etc.

You can even say that you may not be able to attend the wedding. As long as you can show you are happy for him, you won't hurt his feelings. No matter how much the invitation annoys you, don't say anything rude, and you will be fine.


1 India is culturally very similar to Sri Lanka. The OP also mentioned in the comments that he was ok with referencing Indian culture.

2 In this answer, I assume the colleague is male. This is only for ease of reading, but applies equally to a female colleague too.

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    The final idea is to convince that I'm being so happy about he is getting married right ? That way no professional issues will arise and nothing happens at all. Oky I'm going to do that. – sandun dhammika May 15 '17 at 3:57
  • @sandundhammika Right, that should be good, and you won't face any problems. :) – Masked Man May 15 '17 at 6:38
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    +1. That is the reason why cultural differences are important. If I would have been invited, I would have thought that it must be really important (he marries and he invites me) and I would have felt that I could not decline. – Thorsten S. May 27 '17 at 20:09
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I completely agree with masked man's answer; just a little addition to it:

I guess you're not the only one invited; even if you are, congratulating the person later on with a gift will be a better option I guess. Just congratulate him and explain a little the reason why you couldn't come.

The person won't mind at all and will accept your gift and understand that you're happy for him.

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