Beyond Bravo

You Don't Want To Be a Bridesmaid...Should You Suck It Up?

It'll cost a lot of money and time to keep your friendship with the bride-to-be.

Always a bridesmaid, or maybe never one. 

It’s bridal season, which means The New York Times announcements section will be bulging with pictures of beaming brides and grooms but nary a bridesmaid—and let’s face it they play an important role in the wedding. Who else can calm down a jittery bride or help plans the bachelorette blowout. She’s also often forced to wear a hideous pastel cream puff of an unflattering dress without making a peep and shell out big bucks on it, along with other wedding expenses. 

But some bridesmaids just can’t grin and bear it.

Rachel, 25, an editor in New York, recalls being a bridesmaid for a destination wedding to a tropical island, which meant forking out thousands for the airfare and accommodation. She went with her longtime boyfriend and weirdly enough they were not seated at the same table—even though she was a close friend of the bride. Or so she thought.

“Not because there was a head table with the wedding party,” Rachel explains. “Just because they chose to separate some of their guests while other couples were sat with one another. It made no sense and made for one miserable night surrounded by strangers.”

And it’s not only the bride who can put on diva airs.

Sarah, 27, was heavily pregnant when she was bridesmaid for a close pal. She remembers being screamed at by the bride’s mother and sister for not stalling the bride long enough for them to finish getting ready.

So is it possible to just say no to being a bridesmaid?

Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman thinks so. 

“You just have to tell them!” she advises. “Preface your decline with your appreciation for the gesture, but depending on the circumstances, be as honest as possible without going into too much detail. Especially if the reason is because you simply don’t care for the bride and groom.”

She continued: “There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t say yes to being a bridesmaid when you don’t want to—and one good one for saying yes. If it’s a friendship you don’t want to damage, you will try and accommodate her within reason.”

And to be fair to those blushing brides sometimes it’s the bridesmaids who are are the nightmare waiting down the aisle.

Chan, 28, says her sister’s lifelong best friend refused to be a bridesmaid or even come to the wedding because she balked at the cost of the bridesmaid dress—which was a reasonable $200. To this day they have not spoken. 

So brides be careful who you ask and potential bridesmaids be careful who you say yes to. It can make or break a friendship. 

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