Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How do you say "I don't want to be your bridesmaid" without ruining the friendship?


I don't know the answer to this, you guys.

(I always thought the answer was, "You don't.")

But the question keeps coming up. Anyone have a good story?

Photo by Rasmus Skousen for Cover Magazine via because im addicted via tfs

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My blog looks funny on H's computer. His settings are all different. But I did it! I hopped on and got a post up while he walked away for five minutes. Maybe I can actually live without my laptop until the 23rd....

35 comments:

  1. I think it's pretty easy to just say "I'd love to be a part of the day and am available to help with any planning, but my financial situation is really stressing me out right now and I don't want to add the extra burden of my needs to your day" ... And if you can offer to do something else with the bride, do that. If this is clearly bullshit (like, "I can't afford it! I'm spending too much money traveling and shopping and upgrading apartments this year!") this won't work.. and if you just don't want to do it because you don't want to spend time with the person or they drive you crazy... then you proooobably should be happy to opt out of the friendship as well as the wedding.

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    1. I love that answer, but I don't believe saying no because of money is bullshit- regardless of how you're spending your money.

      Instead of spending on average $1500 for the "honor" of being a bridesmaid to someone I'm not close friends with I'd rather save that money, go on a trip or slightly upgrade my apartment. That's not bullshit - that's living through my mid-twenties in a crap economy and still being able to have some fun.

      I've twice been asked to be a bridesmaid and in the same conversation told the bride's biggest priority was evening out the numbers on her side compared to the groom. I have no problem doing that, chipping in for a (reasonable) bachelorette party and hanging out in a certain color dress as a favor acknowledging that "yes, it's enjoyable to drink wine with you". But I don't think I should be expected to buy a $300 dress, $200 pair of shoes, $100 hair and make-up, bridal shower, destination bachelorette party and everything in-between just because your groom has 4 brothers and you only have 1 best friend and 2 sisters.

      Where it gets tricky is when they ask the question the bride always starts out with "I just want a low key wedding" and the ridiculousness creeps up after you've already accepted.

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    2. Ha! Fair enough. Yes, you have every right to opt out because your financial priorities don't include buying hideous and uncomfortable $200 jeweled sandals for a BEACH ceremony that will immediately be ruined.... I'm just saying if you do say you don't have the money and it's really that you DO have the money but you would rather spend it on other things (and more power to you...) a better opt-out might be just that you have other commitments, etc.. Because I can see that situation causing some strain. Since I'm planning my own wedding right now, I can definitely vouch that at first, everyone wants a "low-key" affair... (I do!) But as planning goes along, what is low-key for the bride can wind costing more for everyone else.

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  2. Complain vocally about how you hate being a bridesmaid before a couple starts asking their friends to be in their wedding party.

    One of our friends did this shortly after we got engaged. I don't know if she did it on purpose because she thought we might ask or not, but we knew not to ask when it was time. We ended up asking her to give a reading and she seemed quite happy with that.

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    1. This doesn't always work. Trust me.

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  3. The one and only time my gut reaction was "I shouldn't be this woman's bridesmaid", I ignored it and guess what? She was a total bitch, I sucked it up, and we are no longer friends. Just say you'd rather be a guest -- it's better for both of you that way, trust me.

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    1. This happened to me, too . . . almost exactly. There's a reason they call it a gut reaction, it takes guts to say what you're really thinking.

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  4. I tried to do this, thinking I had a legitimate out (I will be 37 weeks pregnant at the time of the wedding) but then I ended up feeling horribly guilty and said I'd be happy to do it regardless.

    So unless I go into labor at the wedding, I'm brides-maiding it. To be honest, I was really happy to be in the wedding to begin with, but was a bit unsure how I would feel about all the hoopla that far into my third trimester. I figure if I'm feeling horrible a few weeks beforehand, she'll understand if I need to attend as a guest rather than as part of the ceremony.

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    1. Cancelling a few weeks before is kind of a tough thing for the bride. If you opted out initially she'd be able to a) replace you (not that you are replaceable! but maybe there is someone else she would have asked but didn't, etc...) or b) plan around your absence... Just a thought.

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  5. Being a bridesmaid sucks and sometimes its just not possible because of the time and financial burden. Any bride that's been a bridesmaid knows this. But I think a major reason a bride asks a friend to be a bridesmaid (and a bridesmaid wants to be a bridesmaid!), is to share the important moments where you both relish the fact she's getting married. Ask if you can still come to the bachelorette party, hang out the night before the wedding, and be with her the morning of her wedding while she gets ready. The standing up there in your $200 dress at the alter for 20 minutes is less important than you holding her hands singing "you're getting MARRIED!", listening to her drunkenly gush about her fiance, or being there when she first sees herself in her wedding dress.

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    1. Agree with this 100%, having been a bridesmaid several times and planning myself. A supportive friend during the planning / partying / occasional stress is what's important. If you can do this, but can't afford/don't want to be a bridesmaid I say explain it. Gently. If you're close enough for her to want you to be a bridesmaid you should be close enough to to have this conversation.

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  6. The answer is going to vary based on the reason.

    Don't really like the person that much? Tell her that you are overwhelmed and overscheduled and you're afraid you won't be able to participate without going crazy.

    Financial constraints? Tell her honestly. That way if she really wants you in, she can maybe adjust the financial stuff a bit.

    But seriously? I've only ever said yes. And maybe I've gotten lucky, but it's never been terrible (other than some questionable dress + make up choices).

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  7. Since being a bridesmaid is such a financial responsibility (everything from your shoes to the shower), we recommend really liking the person if you are going to accept the invitation.
    Personally, I admire people who would say, "I would love to be a guest, but I cannot be a bridsmaid'. I prefer honesty over anything else.
    If you go with the financial route, you should be prepared for your bride to offer to help out with the costs. I think this just gets awkward, so stand firm and say that you are honored and you will be there on the big day in every way you can, but you would feel more comfortable being a guest.

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  8. I had two opt out, both supposedly due to financial reasons. One I still talk to because she made it clear she'd love to do it, but literally COULDN'T. The other? Yeah, I just heard from her (by running into her at the bar when she was home over Christmas break) for the first time in two years.

    If you want to maintain the friendship, be sincere. It might hurt her a little, but as long as you actually still be a friend, it'll pass.

    If you just don't give a fuck? Then just don't give a fuck. And wave adieu to the friendship.

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    1. This. I had to opt out of being a maid of 1 wedding b/c I had too much on my plate when I was asked to do it. My friend understood and we're still friends. I didn't lie to her, I told her the truth that I would love to be in her wedding but I wouldn't be able to participate because of the reasons given. I told her things may change, but for the time being they didn't seem like they would (and they didn't).

      I think if the friendship is a true one (lol sorry for the cheese rn) it will last, but if it doesn't b/c one of the parties takes offense then it's probably for the best they both part ways.

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  9. I'd say, if you need to say no, just say it. She's probably your friend, and if you explain why, she'll understand. When I asked friends to be bridesmaids... I ASKED, which is what everyone does, so the answer can be yes or no. If anyone said no, I wouldn't have minded - it would have been sad but certainly not something to lose a friendship over. I was sad about friends who couldn't come to the wedding, but that also didn't mean that we're not friends anymore. I mean... when you ask someone to be a bridesmaid, you're asking for a favor. And if someone turns down that favor, it's cool. Not the end of the world.

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  10. It's probably not recommendable in all situations but getting pregnant I've learned strikes you off of everyone's bridesmaid list. I actually got un-asked for getting pregnant.

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    1. this answer is amazing.

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  11. How about being honest? If there is enough of a perception of closeness for her to ask you to be in their wedding, there should also be some level of understanding. I bowed out of an old friend's wedding - gracelessly, mind you - due to financial concerns AND the fact that I didn't really think we were that close any more. And I told her both of those things. The amazing result? We've made effort to rekindle our friendship and are now closer than the years before she got married. I'm aware that this won't always be the end result, but why are we perpetuating this fake-ass bullshit surrounding weddings?

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  12. I think a lot of it depends on why you decline. If the bride is a good and reasonable person, she'll understand if you've got money issues or are overwhelmed with other obligations. (If she doesn't understand, she's a bitch and you shouldn't bother keeping the friendship anyhow.) But if you're declining because you can't support the marriage or you hate the groom, that might be a friendship-ender.

    And if you're gonna say no, for god's sake, be gracious about it.

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  13. This is not this difficult. Answer, yes or no. Either the person is a friend and understands or they aren't a friend and YOU SHOULD NOT CARE.

    Why is this so much simpler for guys?

    But do what Molly said, "for god's sake be gracious about it."

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  14. The one time this happened for me I told my friend (honestly) that I just could not be the type of bridesmaid she deserved. She totally understood that there was no room in my finances or my schedule for me to do all those bridesmaidy things. I also made it very clear that I loved her and wanted to be there for her as much as was possible. She sweetly allowed me to take on hostess duties at the reception and invited me to hang with her and the maids while they got ready before the ceremony. It worked out beautifully - she got the level of attention she deserved, I still got to contribute, and we are still great friends.

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  15. I definitely think you can say "no"--but say it when the bride FIRST ASKS YOU. I've been in numerous bridal parties where bridesmaids jumped ship about halfway through. I think if you initially say "Yes", commit to that (barring any horrible extraneous circumstances, of course).

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    1. Definitely agree with this. If you can't/don't want to be a bridesmaid fine, but don't be a coward about it and bow out after you've already said yes.

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  16. I had the opposite issue. I "fired" two bridesmaids. I didn't make a big drama out of it; I just told them that it seemed like to me that whatever little I required of them to be bridesmaids (buy the (inexpensive) dress and show up in time for the rehearsal dinner), they didn't seem like they had time to do. (I said it nicer.) I told them I still loved them as friends and looked forward to seeing them at the wedding. One took the easy out and said, you're right! I don't have time. Thanks for being so easy about it and the other waffled (which pissed me off--totally unnecessarily stressful for both of us. Just take the out!) but ended up not being a bridesmaid.

    Honestly, and I don't know about other brides, but I think if you're sincere and make up some plausible bullshit (it sucks to be told I just don't like you so I don't want to be your bridesmaid), like I'm just to busy to do being a bridesmaid justice, I'm honored being asked, I hope this won't negatively impacted our friendship, etc., etc. A bride would be stupid to not accept this. Weddings are dramatic as is; only idiots want more drama.

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  17. Yeah, I think the answer is "You don't." This happened with a pair of my friends just recently and, predictably, they are no longer friends.

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  18. Good grief how I wish I had said no!!!!!

    What I really wanted was to bail on the friendship and I was too much of a coward to go through the grief of saying no to an overbearing person who had just become engaged.

    There was an engagement brunch with girls
    An engagement party with the two families
    A bachleorette weekend in Las Vegas
    A bridal shower
    A Rehearsal luncheon
    A day trip to the spa
    and finally a dinner with the girls again the night before the wedding

    Plus the $300 bridemaid dress.....

    I finally began saying no to events as did a few other people. It was all too much. But even now in her everyday there seems to be a party or celebration for everything and I'm saying 'no' to everything now so she gets the message that I'm no longer riding the party train.

    Future brides, please don't do this to people.

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  19. The more comments I read, the more I appreciate the English way of doing this. If the bride is paying for the frock, make-up etc, she's only going to ask someone she actually really likes/values to be a bridesmaid.

    If you're asking someone who is genuinely one of your closest friends, chances are she's less likely to resent spending time helping you plan, or forking out a few hundred pounds on a hen weekend.

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    1. exactly! bridesmaids are doing you a great big favour and that's why in the UK the bride and groom foot the bill for them to be a part of it.

      take note bridezillas - if you were paying, would you rethink some of your demands and choices? I thought so.

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  20. I'm 100% in the "be honest but kind" camp. I had two bridesmaids who, looking back, just didn't want to be bridesmaids. I asked them in a really "Hey, I know you might not be up for being a bridesmaid, but if you're up for it, I'd love you to be one" way, but apparently they found it too hard to say no. Believe me - if you know a girl well enough to want her to be a part of a day like that, you know when her heart's not in it (especially if, as in my case, she's your baby sister...)

    I would much have preferred they'd just said a few months prior to the wedding that they'd prefer not to have any responsibilities, rather than making me feel awkward on the day.

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    1. I don't mean this to be antagonistic, but if you have to preface the question with 'I know you might not be up for being a bridesmaid,' I think you probably already knew they didn't want to be attendants.

      It's not easy to say no! Maybe brides should think twice before they do the asking. I think the problem stems from having 12 or 13 bridesmaids. What's with that?

      I'm having 4 of my girls stand up with me this Summer, which means I can actually afford to cover shoes, bags, bling, and hair. I'm with UK up there--if you're (and I mean this as a general comment) going to ask someone to be a part of your wedding, and you really care about them, you should pay for some of this stuff yourself. Maybe then they wouldn't be resentful and flaky.

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    2. I completely agree with you (and don't see the comment as antagonistic at all) - but as it was my sister, it's also the kind of person who might be completely offended if I didn't ask her - thus I asked but also gave her the ability to bow out gracefully.

      I'm not resentful about it, it's just within the context of this conversation I think it's better to be honest (but gracious) than grit your teeth and bare it, as people can often see through that.

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  21. Having only ever been a groomsman before, I don't really understand what bridesmaids are expected to actually do. My best friend was my maid of honor, and she did a shit-load of stuff (we did a lot of it together, and she loves me, so it was fun) but my other two bridesmaids were my husband's sisters and all they really did was show up to things we invited them to (shower, fittings, stuff like that) and pay for their dress (which, yeah, I guess that sucks, but they were under $100 - forgive me please!)

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  22. When I got engaged one of my best lady friends got really drunk and just begged me not to make her a bridesmaid. She offered to be a guest book attendant, a reader, my day of manager, just anything but a bridesmaid. I didn't think anything of it. We are still friends and she is not my bridesmaid.

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