Dear Rue: Can I Say No to Being in the Wedding Party?


Shaina has spent years helping friends, family, and coworkers with thorny social issues (graciously and gently, of course). Starting today, she’ll bring Rue’s manners-with-style voice to your etiquette questions.

First, take a deep breath and don’t panic. It’s of course a great honor to be selected for the wedding party. And no one would deny that you care for the bride and groom.

However, none of this means that you automatically have to do it.

Dear Rue: Wedding Party

If you have strong, valid reasons for not accepting – money, work or travel conflicts, family issues, illness, pregnancy – it’s absolutely okay for you to say no. Just make sure to do it appropriately. Here’s how:

Say something right away. 
If you end up not being able to attend events, struggling to pay for outfits, or anxious about spending additional money on tickets to bachelor or bachelorette parties, you need to fess up ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling resentful. Or worse: disrupting, maybe even ruining, an important relationship.

Be honest. 
No “My work just transferred me to Yemen for six months” or “My house was broken into, and then flooded, and then somehow still caught on fire” excuses. That might make for a great TV episode, but in real life? Not so much.

Instead, be frank, be respectful, and be thoughtful:

Wow, thank you so much for inviting me to be a bridesmaid. I’m so touched! It would be an amazing honor to be involved. Unfortunately, since I moved to a new city this month and also started a new job, I just don’t think I currently have the time or resources. I wouldn’t be able to participate in the events before the wedding, and I wouldn’t want to let you down by not being able to go. I’m so sorry to have to do this. Our relationship means so much to me, so if there’s anything else that I can do to help out, please let me know!

By Shaina Malkin, Copyeditor

Have an etiquette emergency? Tweet us your question at @ruelala, and we might cover it in our next Dear Rue column.

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