This article first appeared on Mamamia and has been republished with permission.
The ring is on the finger.
The big splashy proposal has been made.
Look out, there’s another proposal about to happen. And it’s coming your way.
Pass the champagne. You’re going to need it.
Being in some weddings is like setting your wallet on fire.
A recent survey found that just the cost of your time being a bridesmaid is $530. The average maid spends around 43 hours total catering to wedding-related duties – more hours than a typical work week.
By the time you add the dress, hair, makeup, shoes, earrings, hens party, presents, kitchen tea, travel, champagne, a novelty t-shirt and a embossed ‘Bride Tribe’ dressing gown, you’ve clocked up a figure that would make the Barefoot Investor don some running shoes and GTFO of there.
Yes, it’s an honor to be part of the bride-tribe. But for some, it can be an impossible ask.
So whether it’s financial, or emotional, there is a graceful way to say ‘no’.
Get in first.
If there is even a HINT that you might be in the bride-tribe, go for the pre-emptive strike. Take the bride out to lunch, or for a wine, and be straight. Tell her that you’re madly excited for her, wheeee!
But just in case she was thinking about it, and you’re not sure, but JUST IN CASE, you can’t do it.
But you’d still like to contribute to the wedding.
Then, while she’s thinking ‘f*ck f**ck f*ck’, top up her glass and be specific.
Tell her you’d love to contribute in another way. Whether it be doing a reading at the wedding, acting as an usher, dealing with the flowers on the wedding day, or helping her with finding someone to do the cake, make it something that she’ll will need a hand with but that doesn’t commit you to the full wedding party.
Say: “I’m so thrilled for you and I’d love to help you in this way”
Don’t say: “OH GREAT. Why don’t you just bend over and let me swipe my credit card in your butt because you’re robbing me right now.”
If you’re already in the bride tribe and you’ve had a change of heart:
Slightly trickier. In this case, the earlier you can tell her the better. Weddings have a lot of moving parts and changing situations so time is of the essence.
Honesty is the best policy here. Sit her down, or call her, and tell her you are honoured, and you were swept up in wanting to do the best by her, but you’ve realised your financial/work/emotional situation means you won’t be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the role.
Be prepared for her to feel upset. But tell her she deserves the best day, and you hope she can understand.
Say: “I can understand if this makes you upset, I would still love to be a guest on the day, but I can accept your decision if you feel that’s not appropriate”.
Don’t say: “Christ. This wedding is ALL ABOUT YOU SHERYL WHAT ABOUT ME FOR ONCE you slag.”
True story, the gracious bridesmaid decline happened to me once. I was honest. The bride was incredibly understanding. Her family went out of their way to get me there, it was a gorgeous wedding, and we’re still brilliant friends today.
If you can’t afford it, or your heart is not in it, save yourself the financial and emotional pain, and politely decline.
Your friend deserves people who will truly make it the best day, in whatever way they can.
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