Of course, it’s an honor to be asked. But accepting a role in a wedding also comes with great responsibility.  And it’s only appropriate wedding etiquette to be upfront with the bride if you have any hesitations about saying “I do” to bridesmaid duties or other jobs. After all, it’s only normal to have reservations: participating in the big event can mean fulfilling equally intense demands. 

“[Being in someone’s wedding] is a lot of responsibility to take on, and it takes a lot of time throughout six or 12 months,” says event and wedding planner Yifat Oren. “In the end, not everyone can take that time and some of these expenses on.”

“Personally, I think it’s okay to decline being a part of someone’s wedding as long as you have a real-life, legitimate excuse,” says Moda Operandi’s communications director Hayley Bloomingdale, who’s been in such delicate situations herself. “If you genuinely can’t make it to the actual nuptials, then obviously, the bride will understand. If you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid because of umpteen bridal showers and bachelorettes and engagement parties and lingerie showers, then speak up, send one really thoughtful gift, and then politely decline attendance to all the other events.”

Still, it’s tough to be in the position of turning down a hopeful bride. And, what if you’re approached to take on a role that falls outside of those typically relegated to friends or family members, such as officiant? Here, wedding experts offer tips on how to say no to a wedding (and still be a good friend).

For Would-Be Bridesmaids

If opening a sparkly “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” card only makes you cringe, don’t ignore that impulse. “These days, depending on who the bride is, the expectations [on bridesmaids] can be really high,” says Oren. “If you look at what some of these brides are doing, they’re going away on very fancy vacations for showers and bachelorette parties. Even if they’re not traveling, the expectations are really high with the very posh showers that are taking place. I think it’s very important to be honest with yourself.”

When it comes to matrimonial commitments, financial transparency is key, says event and wedding planner Brianne Garritano, adding that weddings, and the cost of being a bridesmaid, are more complex nowadays. “It’s usually not just the wedding day,” she explains. “It’s pre- and post-events, and you’re also looking at bachelorette parties, showers, and then the wedding weekend that will likely have a rehearsal, a rehearsal dinner, [and] could be followed by a post-wedding lunch.” 


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