How to Politely Refuse to Be Someone's Bridesmaid

A few pointers when you need to say "no" – without lying.

How to Politely Refuse to Be Someone's Bridesmaid

Photo: Elisabeth Millay Photography

There are times when being in someone’s wedding isn’t a feasible option for you – whether it’s because your work schedule is flooded, you have too many prior engagements on the horizon, or you simply don’t feel comfortable joining the bridal party. Being a bridesmaid takes a lot of effort. You have to be willing to invest the finances, time, and energy into making your friend’s day into the vision for which she’s striving.

If you have conflicts – or reservations about playing that kind of role – there are ways to refuse cordially. Consider these tips:

-  Speak the truth. Or at least a nicer version of it. If you have two other weddings you’re already involved in and joining this one wouldn’t be feasible, let the bride know. If you have work commitments that might prevent you from attending important bridal appointments – fittings, the bachelorette party, etc. – then tell her. Even if the two of you are close, she likely doesn’t desire a ‘maid that can’t perform to the fullest extent. If, by chance, you don’t particularly like this woman for one reason or another, we recommend letting her know that you don’t feel comfortable being in the bridal party. Honesty, within reason, is the best policy.

-  Be definitive. Don’t beat around the bush or give her a bunch of “maybes.” If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you’ll understand how frustrating – and, in some cases, destructive – a “possibly” bridesmaid can be. It may sound harsher to say “no” right off the bat, but in the long run, it’ll make things much easier on the bride and the rest of the party. She can find another friend right away – or distribute tasks amongst her other ladies.

-  Go face to FaceTime. In today’s “connected” age, we’re getting better and better at planning weddings from a distance; so, there’s a chance your engaged gal pal lives elsewhere and had a plan to make things work. If you’re unable to speak to her in person, try to get her on Skype to explain your reasoning. Avoid a long-winded text message and similar methods of communication: if she honored you with the inquiry, she deserves more than a quick email on your lunch break.

-  Don’t treat it like a scarlet letter. Don’t let this occurrence deter you from your friendship with this bride. You shouldn’t be expected to grovel at her feet because of scheduling conflicts. If your friendship is strong, she will understand that not everyone can accomplish the duties involved. If you’re able – and willing – attend her affair with a positive countenance and a helpful attitude. You can be there for her on the day of the celebration, and we think that’s a lovely way to show your support.

Opening photo by Jason and Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios