My cousin's wedding is next June. We are not especially close--we see each other on average twice a year and have that number of awkward conversations a year, per the frequency of family reunions. I really don't play any part in her life, but this past June she told me she wanted me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding next year. I was very surprised and taken aback, but as I'd be going to the wedding anyway with the rest of the family, I went ahead with things and a few weeks later bought the BM dress.
Maybe two weeks afterwards I receive notification that I've been accepted to teach English in France for the next year, working for the French government. While I'm ecstatic at this opportunity, the program/work dates stretch to July 3rd. My cousin's wedding is June 17th.
So what do I do? I've thought of trying to leave the program early, but shaving two weeks would be difficult what with convincing supervisors and collecting make-up hours. I also have considered just coming back to the US for that weekend--flying in Thursday and leaving again Monday. But both of these options are extreme, and again--I don't even know her, we don't have any relationship! I would choose the fly-for-the-weekend or put-in-extra-hours courses if this were my sister, best friend, or close cousin. But in this case, I was shocked to be asked--we've spoken maybe three times in the past two years.
I'd like to back out of the wedding party. Please help me in determining how to go about this. Am I supposed to offer the dress up to a potential replacement bridesmaid? Should I wait for the upcoming annual summer extended family reunion so I can tell her face-to-face, or call her ASAP and speak over the phone? I'm very concerned about the repercussions this may have within the family--that my mother may be judged harshly for my backing out, or that irreparable damage will be imposed. Help! How do I do this without inspiring great family drama? Or is that hoping for too much?
You need to let her know as soon as possible. Ideally, you would talk to her face-to-face, in private. That is not possible since you won't see her for another few weeks.
Thus, you will need to do it over the phone.
Your mission is to mitigate, as much as possible, the possible damage. That is, you let her know immediately to maximize time she has to find a replacement. Yes, it would be very good of you to let her have the dress so a replacement can wear it. Is there another cousin in the family who wears the same dress size you do? Refuse any offer for the cost of the dress. You are the one backing out, you are the one who should "pay". Even if the dress cost a bundle, just figure it's way less than a round trip ticket for just a weekend.
We often get messages on this board from brides who have chosen their wedding party a year or two in advance, then have a change of heart. These brides are trying to figure out how to tell their former BFF (who has grown distant) that they need to step down. We usually try to caution newly engaged ladies to NOT lock in a wedding party way in advance. Relationships change, especially in the pressure cooker of wedding planning. Women get pregnant. Typically we suggest that a wedding party be asked about six months in advance.
Your story is another good example of why not to ask a wedding party so early. You were asked, you accepted, then your career situation changed radically. You cannot NOT accept the job just for a wedding. Getting to the wedding, even flying in for the day, then back to France, is difficult, expensive and problematic.
Next question: How to deal with the family drama. My best suggestion: Tell your cousin, then your mother and let the chips fall where they may. You cannot prevent gossip. It's best to just learn to live with it.
You need to tell your cousin as soon as you can. Get her on the phone and offer the dress, at the very least. Apologize profusely, then later get her a really great wedding present from France.
PS: Enjoy France. I've been there a lot and have enjoyed my visits. Don't do anything to jeapordize this opportunity.
If it were a VERY close family member like a brother or sister then I would POSSIBLY suggest coming back a bit early but since you're not very close to your cousin I wouldn't sweat it! Anyone that throws a fit or creates drama over your situation is someone I would consider selfish! Your trip is an amazing experience and enjoy it fully!!!