What to Do If a Bridesmaid Drops Out of Your Wedding

Steps to take when a friend no longer wants to stand beside you at the ceremony.

What to Do If a Bridesmaid Drops Out of Your Wedding

Relationship Advice
Photo: Rene Zadori Photography

A troubling trend in the world of weddings is the flaking out of the bridal party. While more brides choose to “propose” to their prospective bridesmaids, many of these women are returning the favor by accepting, only later to say they can no longer perform their bridesmaid duties. Sometimes it’s due to a true emergency, or even because of an extreme bridezilla where most people would agree the lapsed bridesmaid is justified in standing up for herself. But there are also times where a bridesmaid's reasoning seems less than valid to the bride.

pretty bridesmaids carrying flowers by eddie zaratsian lifestyle and design
Photo by Rene Zadori Photography; Floral Design by Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle and Design

No matter the motive, it almost always leads to hurt feelings and oftentimes, tension after the wedding. We’ve laid out several situations why a bridesmaid might drop out, paired with tips on how you should handle the situation, below.

If she backs out with more than six months to go before the wedding:
As long as you haven’t bought your dresses and you haven’t posted about your bridesmaid selections on social media, you can ask someone else to take the spot.

If she quits at the last minute, a few months before the wedding: 
Unfortunately this is past the point where you can or should replace her. Luckily, uneven bridal parties are much more common nowadays, so it won’t be that big of a deal.

If she drops out due to finances:
Consider helping with some of the costs associated with being a bridesmaid, particularly the dress and travel expenses.

If she says she’s too busy:
Make it clear that your bridesmaids are not required to do anything outside the wedding weekend. Sure, it’s nice if your pals can help stuff envelopes and plan bridal showers, but as long as everyone can stand with you on your big day, that’s all that matters, right?

If she can’t attend the wedding due to an understandable schedule conflict:
Even if you’ve been friends since kindergarten, sometimes there really are situations that have to take precedent over your wedding day, including, but not limited to, her due date being that week, a family member getting married the same day, or even a work trip she can’t get out of. In this situation, be kind and understanding. Be sure to include her in pre-wedding events, such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party. She probably hates that she can’t be part of your big day.

If she backed out because of a fight you two had:
First, look back over your interactions from her perspective. Were you asking too much? Expecting her to help plan the wedding and pay for an expensive bachelorette party? It might be you who needs to apologize, and make it clear that the only thing she needs to do at your nuptials is stand beside you. If that's not the case; however, and she's just not being a good friend to you, then you might have to cut your losses and stop pursuing this friendship after the wedding.

For more advice, learn how to handle disagreements between your bridesmaids and find out if it's ever acceptable for you to drop a bridesmaid.

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