At the ripe age of 25, my close friends used to stop inviting me out to dinner just to ask why I was still single and inquire about whether I’d be up for going out on a first date with a friend of a friend of a friend (who I assumed was invisible or an alien). They stopped asking that question because there was a new question in town. One that, I learned, sounded like a Justin Bieber song in my ears the first five times it was asked but then sounded like an Ozzy Osbourne song times six through 13.
Will you be my bridesmaid?
All my friends were getting engaged and I was hardly able to secure a third date on Tinder let alone a job that paid me enough in my bi-weekly paycheck so I could afford to become their Always a Bridesmaid.
After saying yes, yes, yes, over half a dozen times, I decided it was time to start saying no. I understood that being a bridesmaid was a commitment and should only be done for very near and dear friends, ones I wouldn’t resent when I had to spend close to $1,200 on wedding stuff for them, pre-wedding.
Saying no to being a bridesmaid is, honestly, awkward. It’s not something that flows out of anyone’s mouth easily. It’s something that, until it’s done, will give you acid reflux. But it’s necessary to do when you don’t feel as though you can commit to taking on a role that will shake up your own personal world and bank account for six to 12 months.
Wondering how to say no? Here’s a five-pronged game plan.
Rip off the Band-Aid
Breaking the news to the bride will be anything but fun. It will be something you totally dread and wake up in the middle of the night having cold sweats about. That’s why it will probably be something you bury pretty low down on your mental to-do list.
Dragging on the moment when you tell her you want to step down from your bridesmaid role and take on the carefree role of just being a wedding guest will only make her even more upset and have the potential of adding an extra, unneeded layer of damage to your post-wedding friendship. Tell her sooner, rather than later, for better results.
Spit it out
Having to mouth off the words “I don’t want to be your bridesmaid” may get you so nervous that you’ll find yourself rambling for a good 15 minutes and saying things you really don’t want or need to say. Just like pulling off a Band-Aid or breaking things off with a guy you met on Tinder and went on three dates with, do it fast.
Rehearse what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Then stick to your script and try not to over-complicate a conversation that you and the bride will be looking for the nearest exit sign after.
Back it up with a reason
Tell it like it is. This, of course, sounds way easier than it actually is, but honesty is the best policy when declining your bridesmaid duties.
Let the bride have a glimpse of the burden that’s making you say no to being one of her wedding go-to gal pals. If it’s your savings account looking too empty, your work schedule looking too full or even your life just feeling too chaotic to allow you to commit, tell her what’s up.
Come prepared with a plan B
No matter what your reason for saying the big no to being a bridesmaid is, let the bride know other ways you want to stay involved. Tell her she can still call you for unlimited vent sessions (warning: This may stress you out more than just being her bridesmaid would) or offer to help her with DIY crafts for her bridal shower (but only if you know how to use a hot glue gun).
Don’t say I’m sorry
If at all humanly possible, leave the tears and the sorry at home. Try not to make this a dramatic situation that would fit nicely into an episode of the Real Housewives.
Keep the conversation calm, cool and collected. Perhaps have a bottle of rosé nearby or a pizza. Pizza helps everything and everyone feel at ease, even soon to be ex-bridesmaids.