How To Decline Being In Someone’s Wedding Party, According To 9 People Who Have Done It
Being a part of someone's bridal party might seem like the highest honor, or a total nightmare. It really depends on who you ask. But if you are someone who would prefer not to participate in the festivities so up close and personal, that's really OK. While being asked to be involved in the wedding party might seem like an impossible thing to say no to, knowing how to politely decline being in the bridal party might be necessary at some point in life. Especially if the bridal party clothes aren't in your color, amirite?
No, but really. It is OK to say no. And as Jen Doll, the author of Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest told Mental Floss, there have been a wide variety of reasons that people have had a crew behind them on their special day, and it's not just because they want emotional support from pals and loved ones. In ancient Roman weddings, Doll writes, "the matron of honor was a moral role model, known for fidelity and obedience." And in Victorian times, Doll writes, bridesmaids were tasked with making party favors and were also expected to walk down the aisle not with flowers, but with a a mix of garlic, herbs, and grains in order to get rid of evil spirits!
These wedding tasks and festivities might just not be for you, and trust, that's just fine. Below, eight people share how they said "no thanks" to being in the bridal party.
1. Nora, 29
"My sister asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding and I said no as politely as I could. She brought me wedding dress shopping and bridesmaid dress shopping, and I even tried one on, but I realized while I was in the dress that it wasn’t possible for me. I didn't want anything to do with her wedding. I didn’t like her then fiancé, and I still don’t like him. I didn’t know I could say no to my sister, [I felt] very fraught internally, but when I eventually made my choice and told her, no one questioned it."
"I denied the offer of being a bridesmaid in one of my girlfriend's weddings because I felt it was too much for me as a new mom. I had given birth a few months prior by way of c-section and also didn't necessarily feel like myself. I was overwhelmed by the thought of having to travel on two different flights to get to where the wedding was, in addition to a car ride.
While flying with my child makes me much less anxious now, I didn't really know what I was doing back then! I was breastfeeding at the time and had anxiety over doing so in public. I also had a lot of expenses because of the baby, and was stressed about purchasing an expensive plane ticket. While I would have loved to be there for my friend, I made the decision that it probably wasn't the best time for me to commit to being a bridesmaid. While it made me sad to break the news to her, she was completely understanding! I now look back on it and wish I had gone to the wedding, but that might just be because I'm so much more comfortable now as a mom."
3. Donna, 71
"After being a bridesmaid six or seven times, I finally told someone that it was too much for me and I would enjoy the festivities more if I could just be a guest. I probably should have done that more times! The upside of my previous participation was that my younger sister had her choice of prom dresses!"
4. Suz, 28
"I told my friend the truth! I said, I love you and support you, but I just can't hack it financially right now, which was true. She had a lot of requests for the dresses and the 'destination' parties beforehand. I just didn't have the money. She was hurt and annoyed with me at first, but we certainly moved past it."
5. Toni, 34
"To be honest, I told my friend thank you for asking me to participate, but that I was undeserving of the responsibility as someone who wasn't great at throwing parties or planning things at all. In fact, my friends (jokingly) called me 'the fun sponge' in college because I just wasn't up for big gatherings. I just said it was too much pressure, and that the whole thing just made me really nervous."
6. Syd, 33
"I told my friend Ash that I was so excited for her that I couldn't wait to celebrate with her, and that I felt very honored. But I also told her that because I'm a freelancer and work had been slow, that I just couldn't afford to be in the bridal party. I said it was a purely a financial decision and that I would be at the wedding with my dancing shoes on regardless."
7. E.D., 26
"I have no qualms with those who want a traditional wedding and its associated accessories (i.e. bridal shower, bridesmaids, giving away of the bride, etc.), but I do find it problematic if the only reason for their participation is 'because that's what is always done' or 'what is supposed to be done.' In 2015, a friend (who I was living with at the time), asked me to be a bridesmaid. I initially accepted, though with discontent. Some of that was due to my beliefs about weddings, but it was largely due to the disapproval of her chosen partner.
None of us (the other bridesmaids that I was and am still friends with) liked him. We felt that he disrespected her and took away from who she really was — and we missed her. I attended the dress search [...] I submitted my measurements for the [...] dress. But when it arrived, I already made the decision to drop out. There are people who I am sure judge me for dropping out in the midst of it all, but I think it would have been much worse to stand alongside her and be photographed in her wedding pictures..."
8. Dana, 36
"I have a close group of girlfriends from high school who all got married around the same time, but they've known for a long time that I don't want to do that [bridal party] kind of thing. In part because I've known for a long time that I never wanted to get married, and the whole ceremony and all the hype around the concept of marriage is just really annoying to me. I'm not interested in the BS planning and the matching dress and all that. I've always told them I would do the guest book, that would be a good job for me because I'm good at greeting people. At one wedding I was asked to read something, and I did that."
9. Jude, 31
"My friend Lisa told me a long time ago to never feel bad about saying no to weddings or 'wedding duties,' so when I do say no, that's pretty much all I say, and I don't feel guilty. As a single professional woman, she had done it many times and pointed that as queer single people who don’t measure our worth by the hetero-patriarchy’s constraints, we don't need to feel guilty for not wanting to participate in something that has systematically marginalized us for centuries. She told me to just say no, so I do, and I don’t even offer an excuse.
Additionally, I have turned down a few bachelorette parties because I don’t feel comfortable being in such a femme-gendered space as a masculine of center qenderqueer person, even at parties where there were gay guys attending. Frankly I felt misgendered being invited in the first place. I felt much more comfortable at a bachelor party and being a groomsmen."
So, friends, if any of these ring true for you, know that you are not alone. And while it can be awkward to say no, it can simply come down to what you feel comfortable doing.