How to Write an Apology Letter for Not Attending an Event (2023)

You promised to attend a friend’s birthday party, your brother’s open house or the neighbor’s baby shower, and then you didn’t go.

Or maybe you’ve received an invitation to an event that you already know you won’t be able to attend–or you don’t want to.

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, keep reading to find out how to navigate this awkward social situation.

What should be included in an apology letter for missing an event?

Of course, the first thing you should put in this kind of letter is an apology.

Next, you should offer an explanation for missing the event.

Depending on your relationship with the person, the nature of the event and the reason you missed it, your approach to this part will vary.

For example, maybe you had a family crisis that you don’t feel comfortable sharing details about.

In that case, you could say something like “A family emergency came up that I had to attend to.”

On the other hand, maybe it was good news, like your sister unexpectedly went into labor and you had to rush her to the hospital and now you are an aunt!

If you have missed an important event through your own carelessness, you should acknowledge the gravity of your error.

If you have or hope to have an ongoing relationship with the person, you should also suggest a remedy for you are taking to prevent this from happening again.

Finally, if it is appropriate, you should sign off with best wishes related to the event that you missed.

Your tone should be contrite.

It should not be overly formal unless you don’t know the person well. For people that you do know well, make an effort to convey warmth and friendship or love.

Examples of apology letters for not attending an event

How you approach this apology letter will vary somewhat based on the situation, so let’s take a look at a few different examples.

Example of an apology letter for missing an event beforehand

For most types of events, you can either simply let the person know ahead of time that you can’t make it or the invitation comes with an RSVP that simply gives you the option to check “yes” or “no.”

However, if the person is a family member or a good friend and the event is one that is important to them, writing a letter explaining your absence would be particularly kind.

Here’s an example. This is a letter that you might send to a good friend who is having a launch for her first book:

Dear Anna,

I’m so sorry I won’t be able to attend your book launch on April 23.

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As you know, I’ll be out of town then on a family vacation. But I know how important this event is to you, and I’ll be thinking of you that evening!

I hope it all goes great, and I know it will be the first of many for you! I can’t wait to attend the next one.


The use of exclamation marks, the good wishes for the future and the signoff all give this note the casual warmth that you would want to convey to someone close to you.

Example of an apology letter for missing an important event

Sometimes, no matter how important an event is, something comes up that makes it impossible for you to fulfill your obligation even if you said that you were going to attend.

If something very serious or even tragic happened, like being hospitalized or a death in the family, it’s okay to mention it, but try to keep the focus on the person you are writing to.

Dear Mark and Holly,

I’m so sorry that I missed your wedding. As you know, my dad died the night before, so I was unable to attend.

I really wanted to see the two of you tie the knot, especially since I introduced you in the first place! I know it was a beautiful ceremony and I loved seeing all the photos online.

I hope we can get together soon. Let me know when you are free.


Notice that in this example, Sarah acknowledges the very sad event that kept her from attending the wedding, but she quickly switched the focus to the couple and her good wishes for them.

Example of an apology letter for missing an important event when you were in the wrong

In the above examples, people missed events for good reason. Unfortunately, sometimes, you just mess up.

Whether you forgot an event or missed it for some other reason, the best approach is usually to just acknowledge that you did something wrong and apologize.

Dear Joel,

I’m so sorry that I missed your play’s opening night. I misplaced the tickets, and by the time I found them, it was too late for me to get there in time.

I realize that this was really careless and inconsiderate of me and that my presence at the event meant a lot to you. I’ll be at the next showing on Friday, but I know it won’t be quite the same. Please let me know how I can make it up to you!

I saw the great review you got in “The Star,” and I know it’s well-deserved. I’m looking forward to the performance on Friday.

All my best,

Notice that in this letter, the writer gives an explanation but acknowledges her thoughtlessness.

Notice too that while she conveys her understanding that this was an important event for Joel and that she shouldn’t have missed it, she strikes the right tone with her apology without going overboard.

If you over-apologize to a person, you leave them in a position where they have to end up saying something like “It’s okay, it wasn’t that bad!”

Instead of going on about what a bad friend you are, think in terms of acknowledging your fault and moving on.

Why even write an apology letter for not attending an event?

Whether you said that you would go to something and didn’t turn up or you simply plan to decline the invitation altogether, you risk insulting the host.

The former is generally worse than the latter although it depends on the formality of the event and the invitation.

Not showing up for drinks with your coworkers after work is not such a big deal, but not going to a wedding is, especially if there was a meal involved that cost the family money.

However, emergencies and errors do happen to the best-intentioned among us, and most people understand this.

While you could and should apologize in person, writing a letter demonstrates that you are truly sorry that you missed or are going to miss the event.

Of course, such a letter should generally only be written for more formal events that come with an invitation.

Writing an apology letter for missing a casual get-together like the aforementioned drinks after work with office mates would be strange!

How to Write an Apology Letter for Not Attending an Event (5)

Marcel Iseli

Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.

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