Why You Don't Have to Reciprocate the Bridesmaid Offer

If you've been a bridesmaid in someone else's wedding, does she have to be one in yours? In our opinion, no.
sophie ross the knot bridal fashion and beauty expert
Sophie Ross
sophie ross the knot bridal fashion and beauty expert
Sophie Ross
Bridal Fashion and Beauty Expert
  • Sophie Ross is a Senior Copywriter at Adore Me.
  • Sophie is an experienced style and beauty writer.
  • Sophie worked as an Associate Editor for The Knot from 2017 to 2019.
Updated Jan 03, 2018

Choosing your bridesmaids may seem like all fun and (bachelorette party) games, but when it comes down to it, hand-picking the friends and family members to include in your wedding party is typically no easy feat.

Especially if you find yourself in this scenario: You've been in a friend's bridal party before (and had a blast celebrating her, for the record) and realize you might not be able to include her in yours. While you might feel terribly guilty about it (that's totally understandable), as far as we're concerned—and hear us out on this one—it's totally okay to not reciprocate the bridesmaid offer. What you must do, however, is treat the situation with care, compassion and sensitivity. Here's how to handle it and come out the other side with your friendship still intact.

Figure out the reason.

Whatever it is, there's a reason you're not planning on reciprocating the offer. Think about the logic behind your decision before talking to her, so she realizes it's not a personal dig.

Have you grown apart since then?

Perhaps her wedding was years ago, and since then, you've lost touch. Under no circumstances are you still required to extend the bridal party offer if your relationship has significantly changed, if that's the case. She might have the same understanding that things have evolved since her nuptials.

Is your wedding party significantly smaller?

There's no "right size" when it comes to bridal parties (you can have 2 or 25 bridesmaids as far as we're concerned). But if you are falling on the smaller side of the spectrum and imagine yourself having an intimate bridal party (maybe one that includes just your sisters or one lifelong best friend, for example), then it's totally normal to let your close friends know you're choosing to keep it close-knit. Odds are, she won't be the only one you'll have to turn down, and if she happened to have a larger bridal party, she should understand that your vision simply happens to be different.

Do you have too many family members you need to include?

For many brides, family members (including sisters, future sisters-in-law and close female cousins) are pretty much mandatory bridal party members. It's possible your friend had none (or simply less) of these shoe-ins, which left tons of open spots for friends. And while you wish you had the luxury of having more wedding party positions at your disposal, you don't, and that's okay.

Realize it's your decision (and don't feel guilty).

We don't mean to state the obvious, but the bottom line is, it's your decision. Your wedding is your vision—nobody else's—and you're not obligated to do anything that doesn't suit you. And while it's always difficult to let someone down (or leave them out of something they might've loved to be a part of), it's the way you handle it that'll make all the difference. Speaking of which…

Talk to her.

If this is someone you've been close enough with to have been included in her bridal party, then this isn't something you can awkwardly sweep under the rug without addressing. Also, it'd be a shame for her to find out the news through the grapevine or social media instead of straight from you. Make sure to talk to her first and foremost, and let her know why you've come to this decision—reinforce the fact that it's nothing personal, and you would've loved to include her under other circumstances. She'll likely be more than happy to attend and be there for you as a guest instead.

Up Next
  • Wedding bartender pouring a champagne tower
    Why Couples Should Offer Non-Alcoholic Wedding Drinks