How to Tell Your Friend She's Not a Bridesmaid—Without Breaking Her Heart

The way your registry should be— easy, fun, and flexible!
Planning your dream wedding is fraught with difficult decisions. You have to find the right venue, the perfect flowers, and your dream dress. However, there’s only one decision that can tear friendships apart at the seams: choosing your bridesmaids. 
When you’ve picked your closest friends or relatives to take on the job, there’s a chance that some people will be disappointed. Telling a close friend that they won’t be a bridesmaid is a hard move, no matter the reason. So, how can you get it right? Let’s take a look at some important tips to soften the blow. 
Note that regardless of their gender, these tips are relevant for any friends you have who may have expected to be a part of your wedding party, whether as bridesmaids, groomsmen, or anything in between. 

Talk to Her Face-to-face

Sending a text or email and even calling are all no-gos. Telling your friend that she’s not a bridesmaid is a tricky social situation, and so you have to do the right thing. Meeting them face-to-face is respectful and shows that you value her as a friend. While a quick “sorry” text may be the easier option for you, it’s likely to result in more hurt feelings for her.
Arrange to meet your friend (or video chat, if you can’t!) at a time that suits you both. While you don’t want this news to be the centerpiece of the friend date, you should share it in person or as close to in-person as you can get. You may want to consider meeting for brunch or having a low-key coffee together. Pick one of your regular haunts as this meet-up shouldn’t be out of the ordinary.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Don't Sugarcoat the News

Before you sit your friend down for “the talk,” you’re going to need to consider how to break the news to her. While your gut instinct may be to talk around the subject and sugar-coat it with pleasantries, that might not work too well. When hearing bad news people prefer the giver to be direct and avoid buffering suggests research from Brigham Young University.
Put simply, that means that you need to get to the point quickly. As you’re planning out what to say, you can edit out all of the extra fluff. Your friend doesn’t need to hear about how sorry you are or how this was a difficult decision for you. Instead, stick to the facts and explain that, while she is important to you, she will not be in your wedding party.

Give a Short Explanation (If You Want)

Over-explaining how you selected your bridesmaids is a mistake. What’s more, you don’t owe your friend a long or detailed reason for your decision. However, if you do choose to delve into why they didn’t make the cut, keep things short and sweet. For example, if you have a small bridal party, you can explain that you only went with a few best friends or family. 
Most of the time, you should be honest when it comes to your explanation. You know the reason that your friend is not a bridesmaid and, as long as it’s not hurtful, you can share it with her. On the other hand, if your reasoning could offend or upset her, you may want to steer clear of it. If you can’t say anything nice, it’s better to say nothing at all.

Hear Out What She Has to Say

Once you’ve delivered the news, allow your friend to take the spotlight. She may not have anything to say on the matter, in which case, you can move swiftly on to lighter topics. That’s the best-case scenario but, unfortunately, not the most likely one. 
Chances are, your friend will want to talk things out. If you are having this chat with her, she is likely a close friend and potentially expected to be a bridesmaid. That means that the news may come as something of a surprise. Give her a beat to take it in. Be calm and open with her. Should she have any questions, you need to be ready to answer them.

Tell Her That You Value Her Friendship

The sad thing about picking bridesmaids is that someone will always feel left out. Choosing people to be in your bridal party can feel like setting out the hierarchy for your social circle. It’s tough. If your friend is upset by the news that she’s not a bridesmaid, the underlying reason is clear: She thinks it means that you don’t value her friendship.
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Right this wrong immediately. When you have told her that she won’t be a bridesmaid, take a moment to talk about how you do value her friendship. Navigating this can be difficult. You might not want to roll straight onto this topic after the news. During the conversation, though, be sure to consistently remind her that she is important to you and that you really do care.

Invite Her to Bridal Events

Don’t want your friend to be left out? Despite the fact that she’s not a bridesmaid, she can still play a major role in the lead-up to your wedding! For example, you might want to invite her to come dress shopping with you, have her at the bachelorette party, or include her in the planning process.
Needless to say, you should only invite her to these events if you actually want her there—nobody likes a pity invite. Give your friend enough credit to know whether your invitation is sincere or otherwise. It’s important that you are honest with yourself and her. Consider the events that you want her to attend and be genuine when you ask her to come along.
All of these little gestures will do a lot to show your friend that she is a part of this milestone in your life with or without the title of bridesmaid.
About the author
Freelance journalist.