Can you say “no” to being a bridesmaid?

Today we have a great little debate from ‘My Honest Answer‘ who solves your dilemmas daily. Join a group of smart women (and a few men) as they share their life lessons and give good honest advice: minus the sugar-coating, plus a bit of sass. Being a bridesmaid is an important commitment – there’s nothing more disappointing than having a bridesmaid who doesn’t seem interested in your wedding or worse, pulls out. It’s happened  to a lot of Under the Vintage Veil readers – they appoint a bridesmaid only to find that perhaps the friendship wasn’t as strong as they thought it was, that the bridesmaid in question isn’t entirely comfortable with her role. So I am just going to hand over the reins to Hayley who poses a great question. 

Is it OK to say “no” to being a bridesmaid?

Lately, around the wedding blogosphere, I’ve seen people grappling with the question of whether, when someone asks you to be their bridesmaid, it is ever acceptable to decline. Even if you don’t really want to be in someone’s wedding, are you honour-bound to say yes, simply because they were kind enough to ask you?

I can see both sides of this debate: on the one hand, your (presumed) friend is getting married, and they want you to be there with them and for them on their wedding day. It’s a huge life event, and your own worries about taking time off work, or the costs of events, should come second to being there for your friend.

On the other hand… you were asked to be bridesmaid. You weren’t told you were going to be bridesmaid. [If you were told, I have to say, that would elicit and even stronger ‘no’ from me!] And I can’t see the point in ‘asking’ someone something, if you’re not going to give them the opportunity to say no.

Don’t be disappointed on your big day – give people the opportunity to politely decline. Image © 2012

Realistically, no-one else will be as invested in their wedding day as the bride and groom will be. If they are planning a destination event, or even something away from their bridesmaid’s home town(s), there will be travel, and therefore, expense involved. Once you add in dresses, shoes, hair, make-up and hen dos, being a bridesmaid can be a costly exercise, unless the couple have kindly offered to pay for your outfit.

But which side wins out – friendship above all else, or practicality?

I guess my conclusion is that if you are a reasonable bride – not expecting to be the centre of attention at every event from your engagement to your wedding; purchasing the bridesmaid’s dresses or choosing something very cheap; and not having pricey hen activities – then no-one should have any reason to say no to you.

There are, of course, some cases where genuine financial hardship will stop people from doing what they would really like to do. However, I think that in the majority of cases, the reasons people have for saying no (or wanting to) are simple: the bride is too high maintenance.

A high maintenance bride is simply one who has unrealistic expectations. And one of those unrealistic expectations is that everyone will say yes to everything you ask of them (being a bridesmaid included) you simply because you’re a bride.

So that poses a conundrum: unless you’re the kind of person I could say no to, then I don’t want to be your bridesmaid. Talk about Catch-22!

What do you think? Would you ever say no having been asked, or did any of your friends turn you down? Would you be offended if a friend said no, or would you rather they declined early than let you down later? We’d love to hear from you!

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