Wedding Etiquette: How to Say 'No' to Being In The Bridal Party
When it comes to weddings, we tend to glorify things like being asked to be someone's bridesmaid, or groomsman, for that matter. It's almost as if that's the biggest honor you can be bestowed with, and rejecting it would be unthinkable. The result? People spend months, and hundreds of dollars, pretending to enjoy doing things like picking wedding favors or the right shade of roses, when they, in fact, hate it. Sure, being asked to be someone's bridesmaid is a great honor, but the truth is that not everyone wants to do and that's ok.
Everyone has their reasons to reject being part of the bridal party, you just need to find a good way to communicate it without offending the person.
Kristin Joy, founder of Bridentity Crisis, a wedding blog where among other things she tackles how to navigate wedding planning with minimum stress and drama, says it's all about being honest without being hurtful.
"How you say it is almost more important than saying 'no'. Be honest with the person and then go out of your way to prove that their wedding is still important to you," she says.
"I have a friend who was asked to be a bridesmaid in her roommate's wedding, which happened to be in Ireland. She had just started a new job and knew she couldn’t take the time off or afford the trip. So instead of being a bridesmaid, she offered to be on 'Team Bride' by helping with the invitations, place cards, and anything that the bride needed an extra hand with. It ended up bonding them even closer and helped my friend to feel like she was participating in a meaningful way," Joy added.
While financial concerns are usually the main reason for people to consider declining an invitation to be a bridesmaid or a groomsman, it's far from being the only one. Nowadays, marriage just doesn't make sense for some, and for others it could be something even more personal, such as not being fond of the groom, for example. All of these, by the way, are legitimate reasons to say 'no' when asked to be in someone's bridal party, and so are work and family obligations, or the fact that you've previously had 'a thing' with the groom.
In those cases, Joy explains, you should even be more tactful when you deliver the news, especially if it's someone whose friendship you really cherish and want to keep.
"Say something along the lines of, 'I’m so honored that you want me to participate in your big day, but I have to be honest, I wouldn’t feel completely comfortable standing up due to the circumstances," she says.
Fair warning, though: "Be prepared that this will not only hurt the bride’s feelings, but could change your relationship with her moving forward. However, you definitely shouldn’t participate in the wedding if you don’t feel right about it."
And speaking of which, she actually considers this to be a major faux pas—going forward with being someone's bridesmaid while secretly hating every second of it.
"Weddings are such a sacred and stressful time for a couple that the last thing they need is to have someone around who really doesn’t want to be there. If you only say 'yes' to being in the party because you feel obligated, then you’ll end up resenting every wedding related festivity and ultimately, the couple," she explains."
Another big no no? Lying about your reason for declining the role.
"If you tell the bride you can’t be in the wedding party because you have a conflict and then later she finds out it’s because you don’t like her new hubby, that’s going to create a huge and unnecessary problem," says Joy.