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“Would you like to be my bridesmaid?”

With engagement season behind us (most proposals take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day), and the spring wedding season in full swing, many brides-to-be are planning their nuptial ceremonies and and every detail for the big day.

One of the most influential factors of a bride’s experience are her bridesmaids — the women who will offer emotional support, attend every rehearsal and dish out serious cash for their dress, shoes and accessories.

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By definition, that’s a big responsibility. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and if you are dealing with a bridezilla, it can be very stressful. Depending on where you are in your life — in graduate school, unemployed, living out of the state or planning your own wedding — it may be the most logical to decline the invitation.

Now, weddings are a joyous celebration and if the bride is a close family member or friend you should feel honored that she’d like to share her happy occasion with you. However, it is okay to say no. It’s better to decline up front than to drop out last minute.

Here are a few tips to help you decline without feeling guilty.

1. Say your not comfortable with the role of bridesmaid.

It’s important to support your loved ones — even if it means sucking your teeth, wearing an unflattering dress and sacrificing your time. However, if you are not comfortable being a bridesmaid, there’s no golden rule saying you must accept the invitation. Ask for a different, smaller role. There are multiple tasks that a bride may need help with on her wedding day. Opt to handle the guestbook, organize the gift table or cut the cake.

2. Respond how you would want a friend to respond to you.

Be gracious and polite, but the most importantly honest. Be straightforward: “I’m not in a place financially to afford this commitment” or “I may not have the time right now to be the best bridesmaid that I can be.” It’s better to be honest in the beginning than to regret your decision down the line. Plus, the bride should want her wedding party to participate because they genuinely want to; not because they felt obligated or forced.

3. Remember, it’s not about you.

Even though you are declining for your own personal reasons, let the bride know that you still care about her big day. Weddings can be a frustrating ordeal and you’d never want the bride to think that you are jealous or not 100 percent happy for her in any way. Remember that turning down a bridesmaid position doesnt relieve you of your roles as a friend, so continue on with your same friendly pre-wedding duties. Sometimes friendships mean sacrifice.


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