The movie "Bridesmaids" hilariously shows viewers the worst of the worst of being part of a bridal party. While the drama and flair of any Hollywood movie exaggerates reality, some scenes show that being a bridesmaid can in fact feel like a part-time job, especially if you weren't expecting to take on the role and aren't prepared. If someone whom you don't consider a close friend or family member asks you to be a bridesmaid, what do you do?
Though you may feel honored, remember that you're being asked to take on a huge commitment. A recent WeddingWire study reports that it costs about $1,200 per wedding to be a bridesmaid, and that can quickly rise to over $1,800. You may really want to save the investment for people with whom you're incredibly close. Unless, of course, the invitation was more of a pleasant surprise. If it feels like an easy yes, then it is! Just keep in mind that while it will be a whirlwind with lots of fun moments, you may feel a little awkward when everyone else is sharing deep, meaningful memories about the bride or coming up with thoughtful gift ideas because they're very close to her and you're, well ... not. Take the opportunity to go out of your comfort zone and get more acquainted.
On the other hand, if you've been asked by a co-worker, a distant cousin or maybe even a friend from elementary school who you haven't spoke to in years and the surprise feels a little more dreadful than exciting, listen to your gut. In a Vogue article online, writer Jenny Berg gets event and wedding planner Yifat Oren's opinion on the matter. "These days, depending on who the bride is, the expectations (on bridesmaids) can be really high," says Oren. "They're going away on very fancy vacations for showers and bachelorette parties. Even if they're not traveling, the expectations are really high with the very posh showers that are taking place. I think it's very important to be honest with yourself." Of course, you can still tell the bride how honored you are and how much you appreciate the invitation. But let her know you may need a few days to think about it and weigh your other commitments. Seeing as she'll be in full-on wedding mode, make sure you don't leave her hanging for more than a day or two. And if it feels like a no, then listen to that. Don't let yourself be driven by guilt, because every bride deserves a group of bridesmaids who are so thrilled to take on this role for her special day.
Aside from your personal relationship, finances could contribute to your desire to decline. You'll most likely have to pay for your dress, gift, travel, the bachelorette party and more. These costs add up quickly, and shelling out a bunch of cash for a bride you're not close with is going to feel like pulling teeth. So, you could tell her that you're currently saving money for something else and you won't be able to factor in being a bridesmaid right now, but that you'd still love to attend her wedding as a guest (if, in fact, you do).
Being in a wedding party requires lots of time. If you've just started a new job or you have a lot of other things going on, being a bridesmaid might be too overwhelming. Simply tell the bride that you won't be able to dedicate what she needs in order to have the best wedding day. Oren says: "Tell the bride you'd be happy to be there to support her (throughout the planning process), and take a supporting role. You just can't take the lead."
Perhaps neither of these reasons feels good enough for you and you want to go with the truth of the matter: You don't feel close enough to her to be a bridesmaid. This is a huge risk if she's someone with whom you desire a continued relationship. But if you do it compassionately and kindly, she may actually be freed up to think about the people in her life who feel the same as she does and ask someone else.
A wedding is meant to be a joyous celebration for all those involved. Being honest and honorable in your response is the way to ensure you and the beautiful bride will get the most out of her special day.