Declining a Wedding Attendant Invite

Someone just asked you to be in their bridal party, and you just want to say no because of the expense and/or time involved, you feel like you don’t know the asker well enough, or you simply can’t stand the idea of doing it for the 27th time. Regardless of the reason, there is a right way to give your regrets.

Most importantly, you should assume that the bride or groom has taken their attendant selection seriously (even if their reasoning remains a mystery to you), thus they deserve a diplomatic explanation for your denial, says Elise Mac Adam, author of “Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone In Between” (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008). “This doesn’t mean you have to be brutally honest,” she adds. “Just be a little more specific than a simple ‘no.’”

If you don’t provide a reason, imaginations and insecurities can soar, says Sharon Naylor, author of “Bridesmaid on a Budget: How to Be a Brilliant Bridesmaid without Breaking the Bank” (Seal Press, 2010). “They might wonder if there’s a problem in the friendship or if you don’t think their marriage is a good idea.”

Always speak with the asker in person or on the phone (never via email, text or voicemail), says Naylor, and tell them something like: “I’m so incredibly honored that you’re asking me, so it pains me to have to turn down this great honor. I’m just too cash-strapped/time-crunched/stuck traveling all the time for work/busy with the kids to be able to fulfill all the roles of a good bridesmaid. But I’d be so happy to attend your wedding as a very thrilled-for-you guest.” And, adds Mac Adam, it also can help to let your friend know that you will still be very supportive and interested throughout their planning and festivities.

Another smart move? Don’t agree to be someone else’s attendant within the same time-frame.

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