The answer to this question is, of course, "Yes." Being a bridesmaid for a friend is an exciting and often emotional experience. Helping her try on wedding dresses, pick out invitations, and celebrate her engagement creates a ton of fun opportunities to bond and become even closer. But while your role is to support the bride as she plans for the big day, certain situations make it completely acceptable to tell the bride "no."
When It's Breaking the Bank
If you've never been a bridesmaid before, you might be in for a bit of a shock when it comes to the total expenses of participating in your friend's big day. The cost of the dress, the gifts, the bridal shower and the bachelorette party, along with travel arrangements to the wedding itself can quickly put a sizable dent in your wallet. If you are in school, in between jobs, or even have multiple destination weddings to attend in one year, the added cost of being a bridesmaid may simply be too much.
Before making any rash decisions, have an open and honest conversation with the bride. Find out what her expectations are regarding the bridesmaid dresses, bachelorette party location, etc. If you cannot afford everything, be upfront about your situation and offer to help find ways to cut costs for the bridal party. Throwing a local bachelorette party, renting the bridesmaid dresses, and doing your own hair and makeup are all great ways to stick to a reasonable budget.
If you and the bride cannot find a way to make it work, then you should tell her that you cannot be a bridesmaid, but would still love to be part of her support system leading up to the wedding. If she is truly a great friend, she will not want you to go into credit card debt on her behalf!
When It's Creating Difficult Scheduling Conflicts
Sometimes it seems as if everyone decides to get married during the same season, all while you are juggling business travel, graduations, family reunions and more. Unless you live under a rock, chances are pretty good that you will have a few obligations interfere with your bridesmaid responsibilities.
It can be tough choosing which events to attend, and it is certainly hard to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Use your best judgment here and carefully consider how you prioritize your commitments. If you need to tell the bride that you have to miss her bridal shower in order to attend your brother's wedding the same weekend, she should understand. But try to let the bride know early on about other commitments you have coming up, so that she can take that into consideration when choosing dates for her pre-wedding events.
When It's Hurting Your Friendship
Sadly, you may find yourself in a Bridezilla situation. Unfortunately some women stop being the friend you know and love the minute they get engaged.
Before you jump to conclusions, or begin gossiping with the other bridesmaids behind her back, give the bride a moment to adjust to the stress of planning a wedding. Keep in mind that she may be overwhelmed by having to organize a large, expensive event, all while trying to please two families. However, if she is belittling you, insulting you, or being completely unreasonable, it may be time to take a step back from the friendship. Speak with the bride privately about your feelings, and be open to apologies and attempts to reconcile. If that does not work, it is best to step down from your bridesmaid position and remove yourself from the situation before it escalates even further.