It Is Okay to Say "No, Thank You"

You meet your best friend for drinks.  Fifteen minutes into the “girls night out”, she provides you with a beautifully decorated box that has all kinds of goodies.  Included with the goodies is the biggest treat of them all, a set of cookies that spells out, “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” 

Wow, talk about wooing!  Naturally, your first response to such a cute and clever proposal is to say “Yes!!!”  But, take a minute and make sure you are REALLY sure. CNN and Wedding Wire report that the cost of a bridesmaid can be between $1,700-$1,800 per wedding.  I would say that it’s easy to get into even the $2,000 price tag depending on the location of the wedding showers, bachelorette party and wedding.  In some cases, this can be in three different locations.

Here’s the deal, being a bridesmaid is a lot of fun, but it isn’t for the faint-of-heart.  You need to commit to being there for her through the planning process. This may involve late night calls of frustration from her, countless days dress shopping and countless more shopping for shoes.  And this is on top of contributing to a wedding shower, bachelorette party, purchasing shower and wedding gifts and any necessary travel. This is a lot of stuff AND a major commitment.

If you are on the fence, the polite and right thing to do is tell the bride “Thank you for the offer, I need to check my finances and confirm that I can do an amazing job.  Can I get back to you in a couple of days?”  It is far better to say this than to commit and then not follow-thru.

Almost every wedding I have planned, in particular the ones with the larger wedding parties, has had one or two bridesmaids that flake-out.  What does “flaking-out” look like?  Not purchasing your dress on time; arguing about the shoes the bride has chosen; complaining about the seating arrangement at the reception; or not returning the brides calls, texts and/or emails.  For those who have done this….I am so sorry.  I would argue that it would be far better to just be honest and admit you can’t afford the responsibility or are just too busy to be a part of this process.  Please note: This DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE A BAD PERSON. Let me repeat, you are not a bad person.  Life happens. Everyone must and should understand. I would argue that if you are afraid to say “No,” then perhaps she isn’t your best friend.

Every bride deserves to have an awesome experience and a celebration to remember.  It is the time to celebrate our friends and the love they have found.  You don’t have to be in the wedding party to help celebrate and shower her with love.  You can do this in other ways, like just listening and telling her you love her.

For brides, this is a two-way street.  Please realize that you are far better off with your best friend telling you “No” in advance of the process rather than leaving you “at the altar” so to speak.  If she says “No, thank you,” YOU CAN’T get offended.  Take it in stride.  Be thankful for her honesty and move on. And, I mean, truly move on. This can’t come out 12 years later at the birth of her second child.  It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, it means she just can’t commit right now.  Trust me, you are better knowing this now than in the middle of the process.  If she’s not responding in the middle of the game, you will be stressed, irritated and wondering what is going on.  Save yourself the heartache, accept her decline and move on.

As a planner, I have taken the calls from the brides who are frustrated with the lack of response from their maids. Trust me, it isn’t a pretty picture 3 months away from your wedding day.

In addition, if you have a maid that is exhibiting the signs of “flaking-out” try giving them an “out.”  You can ask her if she would rather be a personal attendant. Or, let her know that the wedding party is certainly large enough and if she needed to step down, you’d understand.  You would be surprised how many people will exit when given the gracious way out.    Yet again, far better to offer this out and have her take it then bring down your wedding party and the process.

Bottom line:  Be honest with each other and don’t judge. You are friends, remember all the reasons why you enjoy each other and don’t let a position on a wedding party affect the love you have for each other.

 Photo courtesy of: Michael Rowley

Photo courtesy of: Michael Rowley