How to Say No to Being a Bridesmaid

A lesson in letting her down easy.

Contributing Writer
Photography by: Meredith Jenks

So you were asked to be in a friend's wedding as one of her "girls," and you'd like to turn her down. You have the right to say no, of course, but unless you're already planning to elope with Tom Hardy that weekend, think carefully before deciding. It's very different from turning her down for drinks after work—this is an incredibly special and personal day to the bride, and you don't want to destroy your friendship or hurt her feelings over it. But still, there are certain legit situations where being one of a bride's go-to girls isn't feasible. If you're in one of these predicaments, here's how to let her down easy with only a moderate amount of awkwardness.


Reason you can't be a bridesmaid: You're crazy-busy. 

Maybe you're going to law school or traveling constantly for work. You're so overwhelmed, you barely have time to sleep or clean out Ms. Kitty's litter box. 


What to say: Explain that If you took the job of bridesmaid, you'd want to be available for her—to go dress shopping, get a play-by-play of the latest fight with Mom over place cards, write out invitations, and the other 57 things she needs help with. But you're so time-crunched, you'd constantly be bailing on her and that would make both of you feel awful. So you have to decline.

Reason you can't be a bridesmaid: You frankly don't feel that close to the bride anymore. 

Either you led her on to thinking you still have a true bond or she's delusional about the status of your friendship. 


What to say: Don't act all "Why me?" confused when the bride asks you to be in her party. Clearly she feels a connection that you don't. Keep your conversation focused on your shortcomings. Tell her you've got to decline because you don't feel up to the job; you'd be happier as a guest.

Reason you can't be a bridesmaid: You're already in debt and don't want to dig yourself in any deeper. 


What to say: While being asked to be a bridesmaid is an honor, it's an expensive one at that. There's the dress and shoes, the hair styling and mani-pedi, the shower and wedding gifts, the bachelorette party, and possibly airfare and a hotel room. Be honest about your financial situation without going into detail. Ask for her understanding, and you'll get it (in some cases, eventually).

Reason you can't be a bridesmaid: You'll be nearly nine months pregnant at the time of the wedding.


What to say: Key phrases to throw in—water breaking during the vows, waddling down the aisle, falling asleep in the shrimp cocktail, bump stealing some attention away from the bride. Of course, your burgeoning belly doesn't automatically mean you should decline—plenty of pregnant mamas-to-be have been pregnant bridesmaids without a hitch. You can't drink, but indulging in that second piece of wedding cake? No one will look twice.

About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 


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