I was asked to be a bridesmaid in a new friend's wedding. We are not all that close and I was completely taken aback when she asked me to do her this honor. I don't know many of her friends and don't know anyone else in the wedding party. While I am incredibly flattered and truly enjoy my new friendship with this girl, I am not interested in saying yes. Is there a polite way to decline such an offer? --Refraining Reenie
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Dear Refraining Reenie--
This is always a touchy subject and everyone has different views on saying no to being a bridesmaid. Being in someone's wedding is a great honor, but can also feel like quite a chore. Technically, you don't have to say yes, but it is extremely important how you say no. Many people believe that declining such an offer is a sure fire way to end a friendship, but I don't always feel that is the case.
Being in a wedding is definitely expensive, so this could be your easy way out. Let the bride know how much you appreciate the invitation, but that you are unfortunately on too tight of a budget to commit to such a role. Since your desire to say no is no reflection on her marriage or her friendship, reiterate how happy you are for her and how much you appreciate the honor she extended to you.
One thing to remember is the sooner you decline her offer, the better. Dragging out the inevitable will not only make you feel guilty, but it will cut down on the amount of time the bride has to ask someone else. A nice gesture would be to ask if you could still participate on her special day by passing out programs, reciting a poem or offering to help plan her bachelorette party or bridal shower.
Hopefully your friend will understand and will take you up on your offer of participating in her wedding in another capacity. I am sure your emotional support will be greatly appreciated and you can use this time to get to know each other better.