Wedding advice: How do I back out of being a bridesmaid?
by Stephanie

bridesmaids etiquette
bridesmaids etiquette

Brumley and Wells

QUESTION: How do I back out of being a bridesmaid? I feel terrible but I didn’t realize it was going to be so time/money intensive.

KAELLA'S ANSWER: Before you approach your friend, the bride, really think about the reasons you want to back out. This isn’t the time to be indecisive. Make sure you are certain you cannot be a bridesmaid. The last thing you want to do is go back and forth with this decision, which will only add unneeded stress on the bride. If you’re certain you cannot fulfill your duties as bridesmaid, I recommend having an honest conversation with the bride.

In this situation, I might go with the “kiss, kick, push” method. Start with the kiss - metaphorically speaking, of course! - by telling her how much her friendship means to you and how happy you are for her. Next, the kick, which is that you need to back out of being a bridesmaid and why. And lastly, a little push, by bringing the conversation back to a positive note with a little nudge towards what’s next.

It might go like this, “I am so happy for you and [fiance]. You are a great couple and your wedding is going to be beautiful. I am honored you asked me to be your bridesmaid. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what a financial and time commitment it would be. I cannot afford to spend that kind of money and don’t have the time to be as involved as I’d like and you deserve. As much as I’d love to be in your wedding party, it isn’t fair to you or the other bridesmaids, as I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my duties - bridesmaid dress, bridal shower, bachelorette party, etc. You know I care so much about our friendship and so look forward to celebrating your marriage with you as a guest at your wedding.”

I’m sure she will be disappointed, but hopefully she will appreciate your honesty. If not right away, give her some time. I’m sure she will come to understand you are trying to look out for her and make sure there is no added pressure on her or the other bridesmaids due to your personal constraints.

ALLISON'S ANSWER: Well, backing out as a bridesmaid is never easy. Believe me, I’ve dealt with this personally when a few friends backed out of a wedding rather last minute. I think the best advice is to get together with the bride and really have a discussion with them about why you are backing out.

The next best piece of advice would be to do it as soon as possible. The more time they have, the better. Try to find solutions or listen when the bride brings up solutions. Hopefully she wants you in her bridal party more than she wants you in a $300 dress. If the bride knows why you feel you can’t be a part of the bridal party, she will likely try to be flexible and together the two of you can figure it out.

Need more wedding advice and etiquette tips? See our previous posts here.

Kaella Wilson is the founder of Kaella Lynn Events, a wedding planning and design boutique based in San Francisco. She believe the difference is in the details. Whether you’re planning a grand event or an intimate celebration, Kaella combines artistic design with meticulous planning and management to produce a memorable event that represents your style.

Allison Silber is the founder of the wedding publication, Engaged & Inspired as well as a wedding planner/designer serving the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves Carmel Valley, drinks too much coffee, and styles everything she can get her hands on!