Turning down a Bridesmaid Proposal

Turning down a Bridesmaid Proposal – It’s supposed to be the second happiest moment of your life. Your friend, a soon-to-be blushing bride with tears glittering in her eyes, asks in a wavering voice if you would consider walking down the aisle as her attendant. It’s the honor unmarried girls dream of and the status symbol that sets you apart from your unselected peers. It’s the ultimate compliment. So how do you say no?

The truth is, most of the time, you don’t. Brave young ladies with visions of bridesmaid gifts dancing in their heads tend to squelch their misgivings over money, schedules and matching dresses, and accept the bridesmaid draft with the courage and diligence that qualified their candidacy in the first place. But is this necessarily a good thing?

We think not. In fact, we think a lot of the recent incidents of “bridezilla” behavior and “bridesmaid firing” could be reduced if girls simply had the ability to (graciously) refuse this so-called honor.

We know this is socially controversial, but sometimes the bravest thing is to know when to renounce the puffy gown, throw in the bridesmaid gifts, and refuse the dyed- to- match shoes. And you can decline bridesmaid duty and still remain friends with the bride- to- be (seriously). It’s all just a matter of how you say no. Below, Weddingstand presents a guide to doing just that.

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  1. 1) Carpe diem. The number one rule of refusing bridesmaid duty is: don’t procrastinate. The bridal party has to be assembled in a timely fashion, so don’t hold up the operation by being non-forthcoming about your feelings. Remember: once the duties are distributed, the bridesmaid gifts are monogrammed, and the bachelorette weekend is reserved, there’s no going back. If you have any chance of backing out of bridesmaid duty while preserving your friendship, you need to do it quickly. The ideal time would be when she asks, or as closely after as possible.
  2. 2) Be grateful. Even if you are saying no, make sure to express to your friend how grateful you are for the opportunity and how honored you are that she would ask you. Even if the very thought of wearing a bridesmaid dress makes your blood chill, stifle the sneering and say thank you to the girl who wanted to buy you a bridesmaid gift and a put your name in her wedding program. Start the conversation off with that acknowledgement, and then continue on to the next paragraph for what to say afterwards.
  3. 3) Give a short, practical reason why you can’t. Even if your reason for not wanting to participate is a moral one (i.e. You believe big, fancy weddings are gratuitous, you don’t like the groom), this is not the time to get into a loaded discussion. Keep your refusal short, sweet and non-negotiable, i.e. “I am so honored and touched that you would want me in your wedding, but I am out of vacation time and wouldn’t feel right about missing so many of the bridal activities.” By doing this, you subtly communicate that you’d do a crappy job if you did accept and are unworthy of the bridesmaid gift and hot groomsmen escort she had in mind.
  4. 4) Repeat, repeat, repeat. The third paragraph of your rejection speech will most likely consist of repeating what you said in paragraph two over and over. This is because most brides will at least initially try and cajole, wheedle, huff, and pressure you into changing your mind. Rather than enter into an actual discussion on the matter, in which you might get so confused you lose ground and cave, simply keep repeating your pre-prepared speech in a kind, even tone until she loses interest in the argument. When all else fails, remind her it’s one less bridesmaid gift to have to buy.
  5. 5) Suggest a consolation position. Sometimes, the preservation of friendship calls for desperate measures. If, say, you girls have been friends since you were five, or she already had your bridesmaid gift flown in from Europe, a little appeasing may be in order. To set your bride at ease, you could offer to help with one of the traditional bridesmaid tasks, like creating the bouquets or organizing the bachelorette party. Or, you could offer to do something in the ceremony, like read a poem or help seat guests. Offering to do some of the grunt work while forsaking the glory and the bridesmaid gifts will show your friend you do truly love her, and will still be less painful for you than having to actually be an attendant.
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