How To Turn Down Being a Maid of Honour, Best Man or Bridesmaid

Being maid of honour, best man or even a bridesmaid is a time-consuming task and isn't right for everyone, but how do you say no?

Turn Down A Maid Of Honour Or Best Man Role

Traditionally the maid of honour and best man roles are meant to be the most coveted in the wedding party and a highlight of your friendship.


But half of UK adults don’t want to be their friend’s maid of honour or best man simply because they don’t want to organise the stag or hen party, according to a survey of Brits.

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The biggest bugbears about taking on the roles were the responsibility of organising the party travel plans, people dropping out last-minute and feeling like a debt-collector when trying to re-coup the cash spent co-ordinating your friend’s final night of freedom.

In fact, 38% of stag and hen do planners will be left £57 out of pocket for their trouble.

It’s no surprise then that almost 1 in 5 people have tried to back out of being maid of honour or best man after accepting the role because of the pressure of planning their friend’s send-off, found a poll by personal fundraising platform

In unsurprising news for anyone who’s tackled the time-consuming task of getting 20 essential strangers together for a week in Ibiza or even a night out in Brighton, a whopping 89 emails or WhatsApp messages will be sent by the stag or hen planner alone and it’ll take 10 solid hours of work for them to pull together the big night out.

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Image: Etsy/Sarah Burns Prints

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Throw in the cost of food, drink, hotels and more, and it’s little wonder a quarter of maids of honour and best men said the role left them stressed, overwhelmed and annoyed.

If you’re filled with worry at the thought of opening a “Will you be my maid of honour/bridesmaid?” card with your best friend watching on excitedly, expectant smile on their face, then you should think hard before you say an automatic yes.

With all the time and financial burdens, it might simply not be the right role for you, and it’s much better to tell the bride and groom straightaway instead of watching your friendship crumble two weeks before the wedding.

Remember, you’re not alone, 19% of us want to turn it down, so don’t feel guilty about making the right decision for you.

How to Say No to Being a Maid of Honour, Best Man or Bridesmaid


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So, is there a way to say no to being maid of honour, bridesmaid or best man without ruining your friendship or being uninvited to the wedding entirely? Yes, but it (almost always) requires complete honesty.

Firstly, there are some very legitimate reasons to say no which shouldn’t offend any bride or groom.

These include planning your own wedding the same year, expecting a baby around the time of the wedding, anxiety issues, not having time due to a job change or house move, and not being able to attend the wedding date.

Then there are other reasons that require you to have a sit-down conversation (or at least over the phone) with the bride or groom to explain your reasoning and this should be done as soon as possible.

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1. You Don’t Have The Money

Budget concerns are probably the number one factor: being part of the bridal party is expensive, even if your bridesmaid dress is paid for. There’s the cost of the hen party, wedding gifts, travel, hotels, plus the financial burden of organising the hen party (you’ll be putting down deposits and need to co-ordinate people paying you back).

Expectations are sky-high these days and you need to think carefully about whether taking on the role will cause you undue stress. Your best bet is a “it’s not you, it’s me” line – say you want to support them but you can’t take the lead.


Image: Ernie Savarese Photography

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2. You Don’t Have The Time

Lack of time is a major consideration, not just if you’ve got a job with ridiculous hours. There’s lots of miscellaneous tasks you need to do as a maid of honour or best man that’ll put a real drain on your spare time, from DIY tasks to contacting vendors to attending the dress or suit fittings.

Be honest with your bride and groom about whether you’ll be able to devote as much time as needed to their wedding. Most people don’t want a stressed-out friend who feels like they’ve only done half the job. This way you can make out that it’s for their benefit too – they deserve the best and you are sorry but you can’t give your 100% right now.

3. You’re a Bad Planner

It’s a planning role so if you’re bad at planning then step aside and let that friend who runs their life on Excel spreadsheets take over. You’d be expected to make group decisions that not everyone will like, be in control of a group chat, organise the hen/stag do and hassle the late-payers for money. If this doesn’t seem like your forte, you’re more than allowed to suggest an alternative person with a better skill set.

Offer to take on a more low-maintenance role for yourself like a reading during the ceremony that shows you want to be part of the day, but can’t be in charge of the pre-wedding plans.


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4. You’ve Drifted Apart

You just aren’t that into the friendship anymore. It happens; people drift; life gets in the way. Would you reciprocate the maid of honour offer? If not, then suggest being a bridesmaid rather than maid of honour or extricate yourself entirely if that feels more appropriate.

This is tricky as you don’t want to reject that person and lose their friendship all together. Using one of the other excuses – time or bad planning skills, for example – will be the kindest option, even if not exactly the truth. The bride is likely to already be emotional so being blunt here is not the right approach. Go gently and you’ll both walk away with a friendship.

5. You Just Don’t Want To

It’s totally legitimate to just not want the maid of honour, best man or bridesmaid role or be into being part of a marriage ceremony.

This isn’t about your friendship so the best approach to this is to celebrate one-on-one with the bride or groom and make sure they know how much you value them and are happy for their marriage. Explain clearly that it’s just not a task you can take on and that someone else might be more suitable for the role.


If you do decide to take on a role, do it right. Here’s how to be a brilliant bridesmaid and how to give a great best man’s speech – from funny introductions to excellent endings.