Friendships can be tricky at the best of times, but throw in the stress of planning a wedding and they can reach breaking point.
You might have known who you want as your bridesmaids since primary school or picked up new friends along the way that you can’t imagine not by your side on your big day. But – as much as you love someone – friendships can change over time, people don’t step up to their responsibilities or they can purposefully act out.
READ MORE: How to Handle a Bad Bridesmaid
With emotions running high, impulse can tell you to ditch that bridesmaid straight away. But before you make any rash decisions, read on. First, try our ways to de-escalate a bad bridesmaid situation and salvage your friendship but, if worst comes to worst, here’s how best to fire a bridesmaid.
The last thing you want is to look back at your wedding photos and bitterly wish your pal was never in them – or worse, wish that she still was.
Is it OK to Fire a Bridesmaid?
The short answer is yes. It’s your wedding day and for the sake of your mental health and future friendship, sometimes that means your friend can’t be part of your big day.
It’s up to you where you draw the line at what constitutes a bad bridesmaid. However, if she continuously demonstrates some of the below behaviours, it might be worth asking yourself if she’s doing more harm than good during your wedding planning.
- She ruins your enjoyment of the process
- She’s upsetting or fighting with other members of the bridal party
- She shows little to no interest
- She complains about everything
- She doesn’t reply to any forms of communication
- She continually lets you down at the last-minute
- She mocks or dismisses your opinions
- You worry about how she’ll act at the wedding (drinking too much, attention-seeking, being late etc)
- She’s taken control and made the day about her
- She bullied you into giving her the role
- You gave her the role out of obligation
Just because your bridesmaid is acting this way doesn’t mean she deserves to be fired straightaway. There’s plenty of ways you can de-escalate the problems and get her back on the good bridesmaid path.
How to De-Escalate Bridesmaid Problems
1. Let Her Know What You Expect and Manage Your Expectations Too
If it’s her first time being a bridesmaid, she simply might not be aware of what’s expected of her. It’s obvious to you she needs to be at every event and offer to help label envelopes, but until she knows this, she’s in blissful ignorance.
If she should know better, in a kind way, state what’s expected and she might step up to the plate. Remind her how much the wedding means to you and how important it is to you that she’s there. Say the planning is stressful and time-consuming and you’re relying on your bridesmaids a lot, so you wanted to double check she was happy to commit to the time/money/planning involved. Get her perspective on how she sees the situation.
READ MORE: A Guide to Being a Brilliant Bridesmaid
You can always send an email round all your girls with a link to our bridesmaid duties article with a (non-passive-aggressive) note saying you just discovered this and thought it might be helpful.
Remember your bridesmaid has her own life and commitments. If you asked her to be your ‘maid knowing she was about to move house, have a baby or go travelling then you cannot hold it against her if she struggles with time and money commitments. Perhaps you need to scale back what you expect of her and tell her how grateful you are for whatever time she can give you?
2. Talk to Her Face-to-Face
Don’t call her out in front of the other bridesmaids. Instead ask to meet for coffee or lunch and get to the root cause of the problems.
If she genuinely doesn’t have enough time due to a stressful job childcare commitments etc, you need to know this. Likewise if your happiness is making a hard break-up for her even tougher and she’s lashing out. If she hates every dress you suggest, is it because she’s really struggling with body confidence at the moment? Has your new BFF made her feel left out and she’s acting in jealousy? Does she see her overbearing actions as good old-fashioned enthusiasm?
READ MORE: 29 Bridesmaid Gifts for Every Budget
None of these excuse her behaviour, but it gives you a starting point to solve the issue that isn’t firing her. Ultimately, she’s your friend first, bridesmaid second, so be patient and listen.
3. Spend More Time As Friends
It can be easy to let the wedding consume every spare moment and get annoyed at everyone who seems to be throwing a spanner in your plans. Plan a girls night out where mentioning the wedding is banned and remind yourself of all those reasons you love her and why you wanted her as a bridesmaid in the first place. No expectations, no demands: just a good night out chatting like old times.
READ MORE: 25 of the Best Bridesmaid Photo Ideas
If you’re no longer close enough to this woman to contemplate spending an evening one-on-one with her, then she shouldn’t be a bridesmaid in the first place.
4. Get Your Other Bridesmaids Involved
Not to turn on her, of course, but one of the other bridesmaids may be able to have a gentle word. That the day should be about the bride and her happiness will undoubtedly come across better from the maid of honour than the bride laying down the law that it’s all about her. Your other bridesmaids can also help pick up the slack if she genuinely doesn’t have time to plan the hen do.
5. Let Her Come to Her Own Decision About Her Role
When you’ve exhausted all these options to get you back on track, you’ll both be able to tell if she can feasibly continue in her role.
If she wants to try stepping up to her responsibilities, fantastic! But if she decides she can’t full commit and wants to bow out, mutually agree this is the best outcome.
READ MORE: How to Turn Down Being a Bridesmaid
The truth is she might have been acting out to try and get out the role and not known how to tell you. Say you understand that her life is busy too, but say you’d still like her to come as a guest. You’ll both come out friends.
How to Fire a Bridesmaid
OK, speaking to her hasn’t helped. You’ve given her the benefit of the doubt and she’s messed up again.
She ruined the hen by getting you thrown out the club. She was a no-show at the bridesmaid dress shopping trip. She tried it on with your married brother-in-law at the engagement party. She pestered you until you gave in for a plus-one for her new Tinder date. She told you the wedding dress makes you look fat AND let slip what it looked like to the groom. She’s refusing to wear navy and she’s made it clear she hates every wedding decision you’ve made. It’s not working.
How do you fire her?
1. Prepare for the Worst
Before you start, ask yourself if you are really prepared to lose a friendship over this – and what effect it could have on your larger friendship group. Talk it through with someone who isn’t involved in the situation and if you can’t see any other way of proceeding then ask to meet up. Again, do this face-to-face. Choose a public space where it’s unlikely to turn into a full-blown screaming match and you can both make a quick exit.
READ MORE: Stunning Bridesmaid Hairstyles Your Girls Will Love
2. Be Respectful
Rejection hurts so be gentle and respectful. Even if she wants to start turning it into a slinging match, remain dignified. Once the dust has settled, you don’t want to have said something you can’t take back.
3. Be Clear With Your Reasons
Explain to her that you’ve thought long and hard about this but you feel you need more support than she’s able to give at the moment. Have examples of times you felt let down so she can understand how you came to the decision.
READ MORE: Top 10 Wedding Worries for Brides
Accept your own flaws here if you’ve had bridezilla moments or not taken into account her stressful job or home life.
Here's some examples of what to say:
This has been a really hard decision for me, because you are hugely important to me and I asked you to be my bridesmaid because I wanted you by my side at my wedding. You'll always be important to me but I feel I need a bit more support during this process than you're able to give. [Add examples] I want us both to be able to celebrate at my wedding and that feels easier if you're a guest instead of a bridesmaid.
I know your life is really busy with X at the moment and I fully support that. I think you need to focus on that right now and this isn't the right time for you to be my bridesmaid. I love you and would still love for you to come as a guest instead to my wedding.
I understand if you're upset or angry with my decision; I want you to know I've thought long and hard and it hasn't been easy. I value you as a friend but I think we were both on different pages from the start about what this role would involve. I acknowledge that I didn't make it clear the level of commitment involved and I think you've had other things higher up your priority list these past few months. [Add examples] You mean the world to me, but I think our friendship will suffer if we keep going with different expectations. I would like you to be at my wedding as a guest, rather than a bridesmaid.
4. Let Her Speak
You don’t know why she’s been acting like this so give her a chance to say her piece. She may be angry; she may be grateful the pressure of being a bridesmaid is off her plate; she may just be confused. Don’t make accusations, just listen.
READ MORE: 15 Things You Should Never Say to a Bridesmaid
5. Know What Outcome You Want
Be firm and unwavering in what you want to say and the outcome. Once you’ve tried to fix the issues and it’s not worked, she’s had her second chance. Don’t let her bully you into giving another. It’ll just lead to more disappointment.
6. Offer Another Role
If you’d like her to be part of your big day, suggest an alternative role she could take that involves less commitment. Giving her a reading to do during the ceremony will still make her feel an important part of the day.
READ MORE: 11 Ways to Manage Wedding Planning Stress
7. End on a Positive Note
If it feels appropriate, let her know you’d still like to attend the wedding as a guest. Say you still value her as a friend and would like to see her for a coffee outside of wedding planning.
After firing her, you’ll need to tell all the other bridesmaids. Don’t turn this into a source of gossip; just say it wasn’t working for either of you.
If you're still at the early stages of picking your bridesmaids, read our complete guide to how and who to pick for your bridal squad.