It's okay to let her down easy.

Origin of Bridesmaids
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After the groom's proposal, there's another big question that still remains to be popped—a bride's proposal to her bridesmaids. One of the most important parts of a bride's big day is the group of women standing beside her as she says, "I do." Southern bridesmaids understand the importance of their role throughout a bride's engagement and until the final send-off at her reception, and they always know how to keep the bride calm throughout the wedding day.

Though being a bridesmaid can be a wonderful experience for a friendship, there are situations when it's okay to turn down the offer. You might not be in a secure place financially to foot an expensive bridesmaid's bill. The cost of being a bridesmaid can quickly add up: wedding presents, bachelorette weekends, hosting showers or engagement parties, and (of course) buying the dress. Perhaps you have a calendar conflict and have already committed to attending another wedding for a family member or friend. Or, you may have other personal reasons as to why you feel you should not be a part of the bridal party. All are legitimate reasons to turn down her request, and in these cases, it's okay to tell the bride no.

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Turning down a bridesmaid's invite can be a sticky situation. Wedding planning is usually a stressful time for a bride, so keep this in mind when turning her down. Thank her for the offer, politely deny her request, and apologize for why you can't be a part of her bridal party. It's important to break the news early so the bride has ample time to regroup and ask someone else. Though you are rejecting the invite, you can still preserve your friendship with the bride. Tell her how much your friendship means to her, and offer to participate in the wedding in other ways. Volunteer to host a shower or engagement party, read at the ceremony, or pass out programs.