Hooray! Your dear friend just got engaged! However… now that she’s asked you be a bridesmaid, you’re feeling a little less celebratory. If you’re not entirely sure you’re ready to commit to the bridal party obligations, you can, in fact, politely decline. While it will probably be a bit awkward no matter the situation, here are some guidelines for declining without ruining your friendship forever.
1. You’re worried about the time commitment
Perhaps you have a lot going on right now (like traveling for work or planning your parents’ anniversary party or even being a bridesmaid for someone else). Let your friend know how honored you are to be asked, but that you just don’t think you’d be able to realistically spend the time necessary to be a good bridesmaid. Most importantly, convey that you don’t want your busy life to detract in any way from her special day.
2. You’re strapped for cash
Weddings are not cheap — especially for the bridal party. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell a bride you simply can’t afford to splurge on a dress, bachelorette party and a flight to her destination wedding right now. Just try to avoid any passive aggressive notes that will make her feel worse, “I would be if you didn’t choose a $500 bridesmaid abomination.” Instead, you might have to be a bit more open about your finances than you might want to be. But your openness will help your friend empathize with your situation more.
3. You’re pregnant or trying
The dress alteration alone would be challenging, not to mention standing in front of a crowd for the entire reception with swollen feet and a baby who won’t stop kicking. Um, no, thank you. If you feel comfortable doing so, tell her the truth. If she’s ever experienced someone close to her go through those trying nine months, or if she’s been pregnant herself, she’ll likely understand how overwhelming it can be.
4. You’re in 20 other wedding parties
OK, maybe 20 is a stretch, but if you’ve already committed to bridesmaid duties multiple times this year, her wedding might be impossible to fit in with your already packed calendar. Again, reiterate how honored you are to be asked and offer to participate in some other way, i.e., going with her to look at dresses, DIYing something for the reception or being on hand to help on the day of the wedding.
5. You don’t actually like the bride
It seems harsh, but hear us out. If you don’t enjoy spending time with her on an average, humdrum day, then you definitely won’t like hanging out during her peak emotional state. And she might not like it either — you think you have a great poker face, but your annoyance and discomfort are totally seeping through. Do the bride a favor and let her be surrounded by people who really do want to be there. As for what to tell her, perhaps honesty is not the best policy, in this case. Spare her feelings and use one of the above reasons instead.