How to Tell Your Friend She's Not a Bridesmaid

Learn how to navigate this tough social situation.

Announcing your engagement is supposed to be a happy and exciting time, but unfortunately there are some awkward moments that can occur as well.

Photo: Laurie Bailey Photography

Announcing your engagement is supposed to be a happy and exciting time, but unfortunately there are some awkward moments that can occur as well. Usually the most cringe-worthy exchanges come from strangers or extended family members, but even close friends can put you in an unpleasant situation.

One of the toughest spots to be placed in is when someone makes the incorrect assumption that she will be a part of your bridal party. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and it’s early enough in the process that you may choose to select her as a bridesmaid anyway, even if it’s due to an unfair feeling of obligation. However, more often than not, this situation means you are in the unenviable position of having to disappoint a friend.

We would be remiss to pretend this is in any way an easy task, which is why we have prepared several tips on how to make the damage control go as smoothly as possible. 

- Remember that the one who vocalized her assumption has committed the etiquette faux pas, not you. But if you want to maintain the relationship, you will have to approach this delicately.
- It certainly helps if you're having a smaller bridal party and can get away with saying there were sisters or cousins you felt you had to include, but do not go this route if you are having an above average amount of bridesmaids. Your friend will see right through it and be even more hurt because you lied.
- Depending on whether you live locally or not, take her out to coffee or have a long phone call and gently explain that you’re not able to have her in the bridal party. Be sure to stress that this was a difficult decision for you – even if it wasn’t!
- If there’s an appropriate place and you legitimately would like to involve your friend, offer another spot in the ceremony for her. Perhaps she could pass out programs or be an usher. Having her perform a reading or sing (if she has a nice voice) is a genuine honor that may assuage her bruised ego.
- Invite her – and other friends, so she doesn’t stand out – to the bachelorette party instead of having it just be for the bridesmaids.
- Stay in contact throughout your engagement, but keep wedding talk to a minimum unless she asks.

Learn how to handle being engaged at the same time as a close friend, discover ways to deal with disagreements between bridesmaids, and be sure not to make these mistakes when planning your bachelorette party. And if it's your best friend getting married, check out our guide on how to be the best bridesmaid.