Decline to be a bridesmaid?

cathleen_ni_houlihanMarch 7, 2007

I searched this forum and was surprised to see that this topic hasn't come up yet, except for a recent post in which there were many extenuating circumstances.

I want to know if it's permissible to decline the honor of being a bridesmaid just because I don't want to be one. I really dislike conventional weddings and all their trappings. I've been a bridesmaid before, and I hated having to be photographed in an uflattering dress, hang out with the wedding party of people unknown to me the night before, sit on a dais at the reception...If I have to do it, I will put on my happy face and pretend that I'm loving it. But must I? What's the etiquette?

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There is certainly no rule that you must accept. But that's not the problem, is it -- you aren't really asking if it's "permissible" to say no, are you? You know that. The question is how your friend will feel if you decline, and how you will feel about doing it.

It is an honor to be asked to be an attendant in someone's wedding. It's also sometimes expensive and time-consuming -- but those aren't your objections.

In your case, you don't enjoy it. No one is saying you have to like it. On the other hand, being photographed in an unflattering dress (so what? You won't have to look at the photos -- throw it away if they send you one) and sitting on a dais aren't fun, but they aren't exactly brutal torture, either -- seems like not such a big sacrifice in order to honor a friend. As for hanging out with people you just met, why should you have to? Just hang out with people you do know, not people whose dress happens to match yours.

Consider: why do you assume you won't like the new people? that the dress will be unflattering?

As to the fact that you "really dislike conventional weddings and all their trappings," how do you feel when you are a guest, not an attendant? Besides, maybe this wedding will be different.

Anyway, you certainly don't have to be a bridesmaid if you don't want to do it. But don't tell her that it's because you hate things she may be planning to do, or that you don't like "conventional weddings." Remember, it is an honor to be asked, so treat it as such: an honor that you must, regretfully, decline. Just tell her you would have loved to, but you know from experience that it takes a lot of time, and right now you don't have time to "do it right." If it seems to mean a lot to her, consider just going through it with a smile as you wisely said you would.

I hope you are asking for a way to bow out without hurting your friend's feelings, not for a way to do it that will let you be able to tell yourself that she's not allowed to be hurt.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 8:04PM
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I think the real question is what is your relationship with the bride and how will she be affected by your decision?

If she's a really close life friend, the right thing to do is be in the wedding and grin & bear it. If she's someone to whom you don't feel that close, then I can see bowing out.

A friend of mine whose wedding I was in a long time ago had someone else turn her down to be a bridesmaid. My friend was fine with it. She had asked her because she was in a circle of friends who were all participating in the wedding. But the one who said no just said she wasn't comfortable in the role of bridesmaid and would be happy to do a different job. She ended up doing the duty of handling the guestbook at the reception and everyone was happy. But these two weren't intimate close friends, so there weren't any hurt feelings. If her best friend had declined, it wouldn't have played out the same way.

One other comment. I've been bridesmaid in a few weddings, and I don't think ANYONE in the process of being a bridesmaid is having the time of their life. It's a job, it costs money, and it's a favor to the bride. It's not about you having a great time, it's about helping to make the wedding a wonderful event. That's why I ask, what is your relationship to the bride? Because for good friends, we sacrifice a little and sometimes do things we're not thrilled with. But people do sometimes ask friends with whom they are not that close to be in their wedding, and if that's the case, then it's more acceptable, I think, to decline. If you do, I'd take the example above and offer to do some other duty. Still won't be fun, but at least it shows your interest in helping the bride, without having to deal with the dress, dais, etc.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 11:14AM
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Truthfully, Yes. If you REALLY just don't want to do it, then don't. It will likely cause more problems if you accept under duress and then cannot accept your role in the show, graciously. Unless your "happy face" is Broadway worthy, your true feelings will likely be at least felt by others. BTW, I'm not a fan of the traditional hoopla either.

HOWEVER, if you ARE a close friend of the bride, then you can put aside your uncomfortable-ness about the whole charade for a few months (because it can stretch out, with shopping for dresses, parties, showers, dinners and the actual day) and ENJOY doing this for your friend. Remember, this is about HER not you.

I would NEVER, in my real life, be caught in a dress. But, my friend asked that I be her MOH and I readily accepted the honor because regardless of what clothes were worn, she was in love and happy and wanted ME to stand with her and support her in her journey to declare her love - an honor indeed.
I wore whatever she wanted me to, posed for the pictures, and was as uncomfortable as I could ever imagine for a day, and yet, managed to have fun... she was happy and it showed! That is what matters.

It all comes down to your ability to put your own feelings aside (unless you have true reason not to) to participate in what could be the most memorable day for a dear friend. That is a memory you can either choose to be a part of or not.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:13AM
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