Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bridesmaid's Guide: Just Say No

Unfortunately, this is one of those things in life that is "just not done." If someone asks you to be her bridesmaid, assume she considers you to be one of her closest friends. If you are her sister, remember that the two of you are supposed to be close. Refusing is tantamount to saying, "I don't care to be a member of your intimate circle celebrating the most important day of your life." It's impolite. If you can say these words without concern for the consequent damage, refuse without a second thought. However, if you want to preserve the relationship without offering this level of commitment, read on.

We realize that whether it's due to your fabulous networking or because you've been holding onto the remnants of a friendship you've outgrown, it can happen that a woman has cheerfully put you on her "A" list of friends, whereas if you could just remember her last name, you might find room only on your "C" list. Sigh. The price one pays for possessing charisma. If you can't nobly accept the honor of serving as this well-intentioned bride's attendant because you know you will stumble most ignominiously in fulfilling your duties, it is far more gracious to find a credible excuse right away to avoid the whole affair. Better to risk a "tsk-tsk" now than to provoke a chorus of hisses later.

Perhaps there are extenuating circumstances—a scheduling conflict, lack of funds, or a death in the family—that prevent you from serving. A true friend will appreciate your honesty if you say, "I am so honored, but I just can't afford to participate the way I would like to as a bridesmaid. Would you settle for me as a guest?" Or whatever your heartfelt cop-out is. Practice in front of a mirror or with a tape recorder until you look and sound firm and unable to be swayed. Practice, practice, practice.

With apologies to Miss Manners, we offer these irreproachable excuses:
  • "I am scheduled for a Cesarean that day and am expecting twins."
  • "I testified against a Colombian drug cartel and am entering a witness protection program."
  • "I was once engaged to your fiance and he left me when I developed a yeast infection."
  • "That's the week of my honeymoon! I'll be in Rialto."

Do you get the idea? Seize upon a life-and-death scenario, nonrefundable plane tickets, or a critical business trip. Good luck. And watch out for dogs at the border.

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