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The How-To Lounge: Saying No to Her Bridesmaid Request

It's certainly a bit awkward and requires some major tact, but you actually can say no to a friend's request for you to be her bridesmaid. In fact, if you really don't feel like you'll be a positive participant either because of time constraints or personal demands, declining her request might just be the best thing you can do. Though coming right out with "no thanks" may not be the best strategy, there are ways of refusing gracefully. To check out my tips,

  • Don't leave the bride hanging. If you're not going to do it, let her know as soon as possible. If you put it off, you'll just feel unnecessarily guilty, and not allotting her enough time to find a replacement could lead to a bigger headache then just being direct.
  • Regardless of what some bridezillas might say, financial concern is a legitimate reason for turning down the bridesmaid request. Making your friend's wedding a special day is incredibly important but not at the expense of your own livelihood. Let her know that, budgetwise, you just don't have the room for this kind of expenditure.
  • The same rule applies if you're overwhelmingly busy. Sometimes there are just not enough days in the month, and overbooking yourself will only lead to disaster.
  • A great way to smooth over your refusal is by offering to take a different role in the wedding. You can offer to be in charge of the guestbook or manage her thank you notes for the bridal shower and bachelorette party.
  • Above all else, be as respectful as possible. Go out of your way to acknowledge the importance of her day and your desire to be a part of it.

In most cases, even if your friend is disappointed, she'll understand. And if she doesn't at first, give her some time. Often the stress of planning a wedding can make emotions run high, so you might find her far more understanding once the vows have been spoken.


Join The Conversation
CaffeePants CaffeePants 9 years
Wow Mrgan, that really stinks that your friend did that. A lot of people get so caught up in "their day" that they don't realize they are acting CRAZY! Sorry to hear it didn't work out, although you're probably better off.
gossipqueen gossipqueen 9 years
I don't think backing down when you KNOW you can't handle it or you feel left out is bitchy at all! I say good for you Mrgan....the position of MOH is a big one and should only be asked to very best friends or family members....people the bride actually WANTS to include in all details...not just to shell money when needed! If somebody didn't want to be in my wedding party I'd rather know and not waste time!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Just tell her the truth. If she doesn't respect you for that than you don't want to be her friend anyway!
Mrgan Mrgan 9 years
i recently backed out as being a maid of honor in a friend's wedding. I should have gone with my gut when asked and said no at that moment.The bridal party consisted of myself and another friend as matron of honor. At the beginning we were told we could wear what we want at the reception and of course that changed as did the whole wedding.I gave a few ideas for bridesmaid dresses and was told that is not what she has in mind and that the dresses were too expensive and cost more than the bride's own dress. The dresses were from J.Crew and between $175 and $195 and totally would be able to wear again. Then the other bridesmaid and bride got together and planned the whole entire bridal shower. I was TOLD how the bridal shower was going to be and expected to open my wallet with a smile on my face. The problem I had with the shower was that it was co-ed and therefore would double the cost of the affair. Like with the dresses I gave numerus sugggestions and ideas for the shower and all were turned down. The final straw was when the bride and other bridesmaid went looking for dresses. I would not have had a problem with that if I did not live nearby or if I was working but I lived 5 minutes from both of them and had off that day. After much thought I realized I could no longer be a part of the bridal aprty. I sent an e-mail explaining my decision to the bride. I would have called however she has had no voice for almost 3 months and I knew I would get too emotional. I received numerous e-mail responses and was called many nasty things also. I do not regret my decision. I never really understood why i was asked to be a part of the day. I felt like I was asked as a "filler' so that there was not just one bridesmaid. I had been working my butt off at work and picking up extra hours just to be able to cover my share of costs. The bride and I had been friends for years but for the last 5 years it had been a very superficial friendship. In fact, the bride had more of a relationship with my mother than me these last few years. I know many of you may think I am a bitch for what I did and that's okay but I am happy with ym decision. And for those of you who are wondering the bride and I are no longer friends.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
I'm honest and straightforward about this. Nowadays, I tell my friends that I've retired from being a bridesmaid (I've been a bridesmaid and maid of honor many, many times). I'm burned-out from it. I'm over it. I hung-up my last bridesmaid dress. :) However, I do have one last performance in me. And I promised it to my sister when she gets married. (She kind of begged me). She will be my swan song. For everybody else, I will remain in retirement.
emalove emalove 9 years
Just be honest and tactful...always the best way to handle a sticky situation like this. And I like your idea of offering to play another role at the wedding. That at least shows that you care about her and DO want to be a part of her big day.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
And similar to ohkate's question- how does a bridesmaid or maid of honor who signed up for a modest wedding gracefully back out now that the wedding has more than quadrupled in size (and been significantly bumped up in formality)and cannot keep up financially with the requests of the bride?
ohkate ohkate 9 years
how does one rescind an invitation to be a bride's maid? let's say the bride originally thought the wedding would be a certain size however when reality struck she found that the wedding would be about half the original size. is it possible to tell a girlfriend she can't be a bride's maid and if so, how is that done?
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