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How To Back Out Of Being A Bridesmaid [The Recommended Approach]

You no longer want to be a bridesmaid. The fear and anxiety of telling the bride looms over you. But what to do? Can you even back out having previously accepted? And if so how would you even approach it? Faced with this own dilemma, I decided to spend some time researching the possibilities and seeking out expert advice. I’d like to share a recommended approach to take here today.

So, how do you back out of being a bridesmaid? To back out from being a bridesmaid, you should have an open and honest conversation with the bride; outlining your reasons why you no longer want to take up the honor. Whether it be financial, time constraints or logistics; the bride deserves to know why and at the earliest opportunity so that she can make other arrangements accordingly. Its also advised that you offer to support and help the bride in any way that you can.

Irregardless of why you no longer want to be a bridesmaid, it is imperative that you remain honest to yourself and respect your own needs. That being said, how you approach it can make all the differences.

Besides, you do not want to lose or risk tarnishing your relationship with your close friend. Worse yet, it could even be a relative.

Let us now take a closer look at the process of backing out; whether it is considered okay to do and some of the recommended ways to talk to the bride about your decision.

We will also be looking at some of the other considerations that you may want to take into account before you go ahead and decline the honor.

So, be sure to keep on reading to the end so that not only can you make a more informed decision on what to do, but you approach it in the right manner if you do ultimately commit.

Can You Back Out Of Being A Bridesmaid?

It is possible to back out of being a bridesmaid, so long as you do so long in advance of any pre-wedding activities and the wedding day itself.

It is not fair, nor advisable, to back out once the planning truly gets underway.

This is especially true if you have already committed to, or attended the bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner etc.

So, the early you can let the bride no you no longer desire to be a bridesmaid, the better for everyone invovled.

Chances are, if you are not to take up the honor, somebody else will.

Time is required to not only enable the bride identify whom that person should be, but to give that person enough time to plan themselves. This includes but is not limited to getting a dress, planning her accommodation etc.

If you are to back out of being a bridesmaid, you will also typically need a fair reason to do so. Otherwise it can come across as rude.

Let us now look at some of the more common reasons where backing out would make sense and would generally be accepted by the bride:

Acceptable Reasons To Back Out Of Being A Bridesmaid

  • Family Emergency – if an immediate relative becomes unwell, or you need to be there for your family, you may need to back out being a bridesmaid. You cannot be in two places at once, and your own family should com first. That being said if you can still make the wedding, you should do your best to attend.
  • Pregnancy – if you accepted the honor before you were, or knew that you were pregnant, it may no longer be feasible for you to be a bridesmaid (or attend the wedding altogether). This is especially true if the wedding involved travel or anything that could put you and your baby at risk.
  • Illness – We all get sick; and sometimes illnesses can be more debilitating. If its a long term illness, or you require medical assistance or you have an appointment that cannot/ or should not be moved; the bride should understand and even support your decision.
  • Financial – You may have accepted the honor before you ran the numbers. Or, you may notice that the wedding is soon getting out of hand from a financial perspective. Perhaps you are saving for a property or your own wedding. Or you may have even recently lost your job. In these instances, it is deemed acceptable to back out. Just be sure to communicate clearly with the bride and let her know your decision is a financial one. Besides, the total cost of being a bridesmaid can easily exceed $1000 so it is a fair reason.
  • Logistical – If you have recently moved, or live a very long way from the bride or wedding venue itself, it may just not be feasible for you to be a bridesmaid. Its not just the wedding to consider but the pre-wedding activities too. If you cannot be in attendance, perhaps even due to the financial constraints of the travel, forgoing the honor may be in the interests of everyone.

Of course, there are always reasons that are outside of our control and that may spring up. In these instances, it may not be something that can be helped and your only option is to back out.

Whether rightly or wrongly, its ultimately about assessing the situation, the context, and what it means to the bride and the rest of the bridal party involved.

Is It OK To Decline Being A Bridesmaid?

From an etiquette perspective, it is considered okay to decline being a bridesmaids to begin with. In fact, this is the best time to say no, if you are not intending to take up the honor.

This way, the bride can proceed with planning with you in the picture, or can ask an alternative in good time.

Although, unless you have a sufficient reason to decline, there is the chance that it can come across as rude. Or, the bride may not be able to make much sense of your decision.

Despite there being cost, commitment and work involved, being a bridesmaid is considered an honor. The fact that you are being asked should be seen as such. Besides, the bride is ultimately asking for you to be there on her special day and is acknowledging you for what you mean to her.

So, if you are to decline the chance at being a bridesmaid, it is advised to take some time and think about the decision. Take into account what will be involved and what it could mean if you were to say no.

How Do You Tell The Bride You Don’t Want To Be A Bridesmaid?

Telling the bride that you do not want to be a bridesmaid can be nerve-wracking thought – especially so depending on whom the bride is and her personality.

That being said, there are some general principles that you may want to apply to make the process easier and to ensure the conversation goes to plan and ends on good term.

Let us now look at these below.

Consider Your Reasons

First and foremost, it comes strongly recommended that before you do speak with the bride, you stop and think about the reasons why you do not want to be a bridemaid.

Are they fair, legitimate and honest?

If so, and you are sure its not for you, then you need to commit to your decision and not to be persuaded otherwise.

You also owe it to the bride to commit to your decision as indecisiveness will only string her along.

Set Up A Conversation

Once you have made your decision, from there you will need to set up a conversation with the bride.

Face to face is recommended as it is much more personal, even though it might be more difficult.

Setting up a coffee date is a good approach. In a public setting with a social and laid back vibe often does help.

Although, you will want to consider the brides personality, your relationship and how thy may react.

You may need to visit their home, or depending on circumstances, a call may be all that you can do.

Start With The Positives

When it comes to the conversation itself; its best to start the conversation in a positive way.

Begin by celebrating her engagement, how much she means to you and how happy that you are for her.

Explain Your Reasons

After you have done this, you should explain that you are not going to be able to be a bridesmaid, despite your appreciation in being asked.

State your reasons; be honest about what you cannot and explain in a clear and concise way that if circumstances were different, you would willingly be a bridesmaid.

Finish Again With The Positives

Do not leave the conversation on a negative note. So instead, reiterate your happiness for her and offer your support for the pre-wedding or wedding activities in any way you can.

Example Conversation

“I am so excited for you, and couldn’t be more pleased that you have found happiness and someone as special as [….]. You are meant for each other and your wedding day is going to be so special.

While I truly appreciate the honor of being asked, unfortunately I will not be able to accept being your bridesmaid.

Its just not financially viable for me at this time, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to commit to everything that I would need for your special day.

I do not want to put any pressure on you, and even though I am flattered and would love the responsibility, it is not something I can commit to.

I truly care for you, and cannot wait to attend the wedding as a guest to celebrate what a special relationship you have”.

Chances are, while the bride will be disappointed, she should understand.

Other Considerations

Before you do proceed with declining a bridesmaid invitation, or backing out altogether, you may want to consider these final considerations:

What Have You Already Bought?

Depending on when and why, you may have already made some payments or purchased things related to the pre-wedding activities or the wedding day itself.

Perhaps its bachelorette party travel and/or accommodation, or maybe you have already purchased your dress for the special day.

In these scenarios, its always a good idea to check to see if they are refundable in advance. If you cannot get a refund and have already committed, then there may be little benefit to backing out – especially if the reason was a financial one.

Otherwise, you may want to think about other solutions, such as selling your dress to another bridesmaids or your potential replacement, if at all possible.

What It Could Mean For Your Experience Of The Wedding Day

Chances are, you will still be attending the wedding; albeit in a guest capacity.

Declining or backing out will prevent you from having the same experience of the day. For some this is part and parcel of the decision, but for others it can be a hard one to come to terms with.

Will you regret the decision when the day comes around?

Consider that you will feel more distant from the bride as a guest and although you do not have the duties and responsibilities, you will not be included in the celebrations to the same extent.

What It Could Mean For Your Friendship/Relationship

For some brides, they will accept and come to terms with your decision. They will respect you for your honesty and it will not come between you.

For others, it may leave a long lasting impact on your friendship or relationship. The damage could be irreparable despite your best efforts and even with time.

Consider how much the bride means to you.

If you are a relative think of the potential complications it can have for family relations.


It is definitely possible to back out of being a bridesmaids. In fact, in some circumstances it is even advisable for all parties invovled.

That being said, if you do decide that you do not want to be a bridesmaid, you should look to let the bride know at the earliest opportunity. Better yet, and if at all possible, would be to decline the invitation to begin with.

Nevertheless, how you approach this can make or break a relationship and friendship so think carefully about when, how and what it could all mean for you both, if you do decide to it.