Q: I don't think I can afford to be my friend's bridesmaid, but she'll be so hurt if I say no. What do I do?

A: It's always fine to take a few days to consider being someone's bridesmaid. Let her know that you are honored to be asked, but would like to be sure you can fulfill all the responsibilities. Ask if she has an idea of some of the expenses (dress, travel, hosting duties) and event obligations, as sometimes it's time that is in short supply. If you still feel that it would be outside your budget, talk to her. "Sara, I would love to be your bridesmaid, but I'm afraid its just not possible with my budget right now. I hope you understand." Sara then has two options: She can accept your answer, or she might choose to offer to make up the difference herself. Know in advance whether or not you would be comfortable accepting her help. And while she may choose to offer to help, it's not okay to ask her to pay for it—that's her offer to make. It's also important to be honest with her—if you really do have the money but just dont feel like being her bridesmaid, don't fib about your budget. If she then offered to help, it would cut off your excuse and cause her expenses you really could have afforded. —Anna Post, The Emily Post Institute

See all questions about wedding party etiquette

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