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I've been in situations where my friends are invited to an event and they'll get an invitation electronically, or physically. Sometimes I won't get one even though my friends have gotten one, and I know the host very well.

It seems like I should have an invitation, and there may have been a mistake. However, should I show up at the event, the host may not want me there, and it would ruin the scene.

Obviously, asking the host directly puts them on the spot, and makes them uncomfortable should there be no mistake, and they don't want me there.

Given that I am by myself (I can't have the aid of a friend), how do I ask if I have an invitation or not to an event without putting the host on the spot?

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It's possible it was an oversight, or the invitation was lost. But it's best to at least acknowledge the possibility that you are actually not invited there.

So it looks like there are three possibilities:

  • It was an honest mistake on the part of the person making up the invitations. But most people charged to do this are very careful about it, and the invitation list is usually checked by others as well. But it's possible that someone just fell through the cracks.
  • The invitation was lost in transit. It happens, but it's uncommon.
  • You didn't get the invitation because you were not invited. As saddening as this may be, and as uncommon as it may appear, this too is at least possible (though perhaps improbable).

OK, so if you did not receive an invitation, please do not just show up to the event. Only consider going if you get some form of invitation: in writing by the host (better late than never), an after-the-fact last minute invitation over the phone, or as the partner to someone who was invited.

So how do you gently remind someone that maybe you were not put on the invitation list by accident? This has happened to me on two occasions. Each time I felt somewhat hurt. The first time, many sad thoughts ran through my mind, but I let it go. I gave it thought however. About a year later, it happened again, and I did the following two actions.

  • If it's a celebration (a birthday, graduation, marriage), write a congratulatory note to the happy person. Make no mention of not getting an invitation. Don't ask a question or write anything that would/should get a reply (that could also be construed as putting them on the spot). Aside from the actual congratulatory message, it will serve as a reminder to the person.

Hopefully, it will get them to ask themselves why they are being congratulated when they are coming to the event. It may well lead to a correction. But you should be prepared to accept that it does not change anything.

  • When talking to a mutual friend who is invited, work into the conversation that you will be doing something at the same time as the celebration. It may be difficult, but try not to be obvious about it. The hope is to get a question like "Aren't you going to so-and-so's party?" Then you can say that you did not get an invitation. This should cue your friend to inquire on their own about this situation.

By the way, I suggest being honest in that if you said you plan on doing something, then you actually need to be planning on doing it. That was the case for me. I got a sympathetic look from the friend. That told me all I needed to know. I tried to enjoy my solitary activity.

Best of luck in getting a clarification on whether you should have been invited.

  • @John, could you please elaborate what to answer after the "Aren't you going to so-and-so's party?"-question. In my experience, the reaction "Oh, I didn't now there is a party " only caused akward silence and the mutual friends also avoided asking the host because of possible embaressement. – Iris Jan 7 at 16:03
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    @Iris My recommendation is to be honest, while not saying anything further to put your friend on the spot. You should not lie by saying you didn't know. But you should not feel obligated to comment further and make it an awkward situation. As I said in my answer, simply say you were not invited, and you are planning something (that you can easily change). – John Jan 9 at 5:46
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This advice might not be applicable for big events like weddings or the like (that everyone knows about), but small social gatherings

In my group of friends, we have a Whatsapp chat group. One friend does not use Whatsapp, so I regularly forget to invite him to events like gatherings at a bar or small birthday parties. What helps in this situation is when someone (either him or one of the other friends) reminds me, that he exists. So this is what I would recommend for events you know about, but the host does not necessarily know you know:

Some time in advance, engage in a casual conversation with the host. Talk or write about what's going on in each others life, if you don't see each other so often, or about something you have in common. Then, ask the host what they are up to on the date they throw the party. I.e.:

Hey, what are you doing on the weekend of the 25.? I consider meeting some friends, would you like to join?

Of course it is clear to you that the host will say no. If they simply forgot to invite you, this is a reminder and the ideal moment to invite you. If they did not invite you on purpose, they might say the truth or come up with a lie, but afterwards you know.

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