How to Get Out of Being a Bridesmaid

From the hideous dresses to the endless amount of time needed to assist, you have been asked to be a bridesmaid in someone’s wedding and you really don’t want to or cannot perform the duties. Is it in bad taste to decline an invitation to be in someone’s wedding? Maybe, because being asked to be in a friend’s (or family member’s) wedding is considered to be an honor and one you should accept with pride. However if you simply can’t stomach the role or truly don’t think you can make the role work, there are ways to recuse yourself from duties surrounding these nuptials.


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    Explain that you’ve already committed to someone else’s wedding. If you can get out of the duty by telling the bride you’ve already said that you’d stand by another friend, perhaps you can avoid being a bridesmaid.
    • You are deeply involved in another friend’s wedding and may have a conflict in duties. Tell the bride that you’ve been asked to play “maid of honor” at another friends’ wedding, which does not allow you any additional time to devote to her. Explain that if you were to accept the honor of being in her wedding you wouldn’t want to disappoint her with a lackluster performance.
    • The day your friend wants to get married is the same day your other friend is getting hitched. In addition to being asked to be another friend’s wedding, that friend’s wedding is on the same day. This maneuver may be tricky unless it is true. However, if it is wedding season and many of your friends are getting married, this may actually be the case.
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    Tell the bride you don’t have the cash to participate. Cash-strapped times are often the reason why some women can’t join a wedding party. Whether you just started a new job or are unemployed, take into consideration how much money being in a wedding may cost you.
    • You can’t afford to purchase the dress. Bridesmaid’s dresses are not cheap and if the bride has chosen especially high-end couture you may not even be able to afford the fabric.
    • You can’t join in on the bachelorette fun--no dough. Typically the wedding party throws the bachelorette gala. In the past it would be a nice shower or even a rousing evening with the girls. However, many brides today opt for a weekend getaway with friends to an exotic location. This could mean airfare, hotel and more.
    • You can provide emotional (but not financial) support. Explain that you still want to be there for her emotionally and discuss wedding plans, but can’t help with financing part the role of being a bridesmaid. Tell her that you are always available to look at flowers or go cake testing and that she can count on you for an honest opinion. If you use this option, be ready for her to possibly say, “That’s o.k., I’ll pay for you.”
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    Use your family or work as an excuse not to participate. If you’ve recently had a baby or if you work full time, throw the ones you love (or your boss) under the bus.
    • Small children are always a great excuse. Even if your child is no longer an infant, even a “demanding” teenager can take up a lot of time. From endless school and sports schedules for older children to not being able to secure a sitter for younger kids, your time may be at a premium, leaving you little or no additional time to help with the wedding.
    • Your work schedule is too demanding. If you travel extensively for work, or must put in many long hours, being married to your job may make it impossible for you to add the role of bridesmaid to your schedule.
    • Explain that your mom or dad needs your help now that they are aging. As with the demands of children, dealing with parents who have mounting health problems and require your 24/7 assistance can make it difficult for you to think of anything else.
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    Bow out ASAP so don’t leave your friend hanging. The worst thing to do is to “mull over the decision” knowing full well you plan to decline her invitation. Of course you want to make it look like you’ve given her offer plenty of thought so take a day but then call her immediately to let her know you can’t make it work.
    • If possible, tell your friend in person so you can determine how she is really feeling with regard to your news. Chances are this is a very close friend so preserving the friendship should be a priority. If you tell her by email, text or even by phone, you may not be able to see her true reaction. You want to make sure that she understands why you can’t be in her wedding and that the reasons have to do with circumstances beyond your control.
    • Ask if you can assist her in other ways such as calling a vendor or helping to coordinate the cake. If you can at least help with one aspect that may be even more valuable to her.
    • Be sure she knows you are still her close friend and that you can’t wait to attend her wedding. Tell her how thrilled and excited you are that she is getting married and that you are there for her every step of the way.


  • Think of how lucky you are to get an invite, and make sure you can come up with a good reason not to be there.
  • Be sincere with the reason why you can’t be in the wedding. Don’t be crass and tell her the reason is because you don’t like someone in the wedding party (or worse, the groom). Even if that is the true reason, be diplomatic so you don’t end up hurting her feelings.
  • Give the bride a very nice shower and wedding gift to make up for your absence from the bridal party.


  • Backing out from such an honor may negatively impact your friendship, especially if your friend doesn’t really understand why you cannot be in her wedding. Take the consequences into consideration before declining her invite.

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Categories: Weddings