Being asked to be the maid of honor at your best friend's wedding may be one of the sweetest moments of your friendship to date. But, you know what? You're not required to accept the role. It may be a tough experience to pass up, but it's a question that you should be able to thoroughly think through before giving a response. Here are a few red flags you should consider before you say, "Yes!" to the extra sparkly dress and all the responsibility that comes along with wearing it.
The financial burden would be too great.
Budget is probably the number one factor to take into consideration when you're deciding if you want to be a member of the bridal party. You need to be sure you can manage the budget that would be appropriate for the caliber of wedding you've been asked to be part of. While some brides will cover a few of the associated costs for the bridal party, it's best to assume you'll carry most of the cost on your own. Remember that your budget will need to include, at the very least, the price of a dress, but could also incldue the cost of a specific pair of shoes, hair and makeup, spa appointments, hotel rooms, travel, bachelorette party expenses, and gifts for the engagement party, bridal shower, and the wedding. Believe it or not, a few extra costs get added to the list if you're the MOH, as taking on the role of coordinator and hostess often comes with a higher price tag.
You're expecting a baby around the time of the wedding.
If you're pregnant, you should get a free pass out of the bridal party with no additional questions asked. If your baby's due date is anywhere near the wedding date, this rule applies more than ever. Most brides take this into consideration before asking a pregnant friend to be maid of honor, but more often than not, the MOH or bridesmaid finds out she's pregnant after she's already agreed to be in the wedding. In this case, we suggest trying to maintain the captain role for planning all the celebrations, and opting for or against the wedding day role depending on your personal comfort and stress levels.
You simply don't have the time.
Everyone has some years that are busier than others. Maybe you've been asked to be in multiple weddings, you're planning on moving to a new home, or you have a job with really crazy hours. Whatever it is that's keeping your schedule packed and your free time minimal, how busy you are could be just as important a consideration as your financial ability to be part of the bridal party. Don't forget that being in a bridal party requires you to take on tons of miscellaneous tasks that consume time and energy, and you can imagine that those tasks are doubled for the MOH. Be honest with yourself and the bride-to-be about how much time you'll be able to devote to the wedding and the various associated events and celebrations.
You're not a great coordinator.
The maid of honor title comes with an extra special list of tasks that range from being the community organizer of showers and parties to spending a lot more one-on-one time with the bride and her family throughout wedding planning. If you know that communicating with a group is tough for you and you hate wrangling people, be honest with the bride and suggest an alternate.
You're planning your own wedding within the same calendar year.
Similar to playing the pregnancy card, if you're getting married in the same year as your best friend, it's totally expected for you to say no to being her maid of honor. There's no reason to add more stress to your already full plate. Not to mention, you probably won't have enough free time to dedicate to your friend who deserves someone who can be totally focused on being by her side throughout the wedding planning and the wedding day.
You feel the relationship is not reciprocal.
It's okay to acknowledge that you're just not that good of friends anymore. You might consider offering to be a bridesmaid rather than the maid of honor, or, you might opt to fully back out of the bridal party depending how strongly you feel about this point. This is a tricky situation and one you should handle very delicately. Rather than being overly candid with the bride about the status of your relationship (at a time when she's already emotional), consider some alternatives. You might be better off citing geographical distance or your own lack of free time. Though it may not be the most genuine route, you're usually going to be better received if you phrase this so that the blame falls on you rather than being a reflection of the state of your friendship.
You have anxiety issues.
Social anxiety is a very valid reason to say no to being in a wedding party. Being a maid of honor requires a lot of social interaction and coordinating with other people. If the thought of that makes you cringe, this probably is not a role that's meant for you. Be candid and clear about this when you let the bride down, as it could be easy for her to breeze past this if she doesn't truly understand your struggle and your point of view.
If you just don't want to.
Maybe you're sick of being a bridesmaid or maybe you're going through a litany of life changes right now and celebrating a marriage isn't high on your priority list. That's okay. Find a way to celebrate the bride one-on-one and be sure she knows that you love her and deeply care about your relationship before you say no to being her maid of honor. If she's truly one of your closest friends, she'll understand you've got a lot going on and can't take on a task that'll cause you undue stress and anxiety.