If you’ve said yes to being a bridesmaid, you’ve taken on a big responsibility. There are times, however, when the role becomes too much and you consider pulling out of being a bridesmaid. This is not a decision to be taken lightly—and it’s usually better to turn down the role in the first place than to quit closer to the wedding. But emergencies do happen, and there is a possibility, however small, that you may have to pull out of being a bridesmaid (or perhaps run the risk of being "fired" by the bride)—but you have to be sure that you have a good (read: true) excuse. And “I hate the dress” isn’t one of them.
Here are six circumstances when pulling out of being a bridesmaid is okay.
You’re pregnant and due super close to the wedding.
Perhaps when you accepted the role of being a bridesmaid starting a family wasn’t on the horizon. But now you’re pregnant (congrats, btw!) and it turns out that your due date is right around the wedding date. If the wedding is near where you live, it may be feasible for you to attend, but if it requires travel, you’ll have to follow your doctor’s orders (which usually means no flying starting at least a month before your due date). The bride will certainly understand if you’re pulling out of being a bridesmaid to protect your health and your baby’s.
The wedding is turning out to be way out of budget.
The average bridesmaid spends $1,200 on a wedding. This includes over $200 on a dress, $125 on a gift, and more—plus you’ll likely have to shell out for the pre-wedding parties, like the shower and bachelorette party. Often times, bridesmaids aren’t aware of these costs when first accepting the role, or their financial circumstances may change due to a job loss, illness, etc.—or the other bridesmaids are spending way more than anticipated (bachelorette party in Paris—what?). If you’re considering pulling out of being a bridesmaid due to financial issues, be upfront with the bride about your concerns—maybe there’s a way to make things work. If that’s not the case, you may feel more comfortable sitting this one out to maintain your financial well-being.
A job crisis or change has thrown your schedule out of whack.
Sometimes, unexpected work issues might put your role as a bridesmaid in question. Maybe you took a new job that requires lots of travel, meaning you would be unavailable for many of the pre-wedding events. Or perhaps your current job just kicked things up a notch, meaning lots of late-nights and weekend work. Whatever the case may be, if you feel you’ll be unable to fulfill your bridesmaid responsibilities due to work commitments, talk to the bride about it. She may not care that you can’t attend the pre-wedding festivities, and just wants you by her side on the big day. Or she may feel that being a bridesmaid isn’t a good idea for you right now. As long as you are open and honest about what your schedule will and won’t allow, you’ll likely be able to come to a conclusion you’re both happy with—whether that means you stay in the bridal party or not.
You have a family emergency.
Caring for an ill family member is extremely stressful, and adding bridesmaid duties to this major responsibility would be too much for most to handle. If a family emergency arises that requires your attention, pulling out of being a bridesmaid is completely reasonable. If circumstances allow you to attend the wedding, you should certainly make an effort to be there—but the bride should be understanding no matter what your role can be.
You have a major conflict on the wedding day.
So you’re in the wedding party of your close friend, and then—bam!—your newly-engaged sister decides to speed up her engagement and get married the exact same weekend. While it’s unlikely, these sorts of conflicts do happen. The main requirement of a bridesmaid is that she actually is able to attend the wedding, so if unforeseen circumstances won’t allow that to happen, you’ll have to unfortunately quit the bridal party. Unless the bride is super-understanding, your conflict will have to be pretty major for this to be considered acceptable (meaning, missing your alma mater’s homecoming likely won’t cut it), so be mindful as conflicts pop up.
The bride is making unreasonable demands.
There are certain requirements that brides can make of their bridesmaids—wearing a certain dress, getting hair and makeup professionally done (if the bride is willing to pay for it), or traveling to a certain destination for the wedding. However, if a bride’s demands become unreasonable or just plain wacky—dye your hair a certain color, lose/gain weight, take a week off from work for an insane bachelorette extravaganza in Bali, you have every right to just say no. To handle this tactfully, you can “I’m really not comfortable with [out-there demand], so I think pulling out of being a bridesmaid is best for both of us.” Your friendship may be strained, but your health and sanity are more important.