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Your first instinct is probably to panic, you are probably annoyed and frustrated. Your mind will most likely go into stress-mode, thinking, “What am I going to do?”, “Who can I ask now?”, “What if I can’t get a replacement?”, “Will it matter if the bridal party is uneven?”
Let’s sort this out.
Amy Nichols, an event planner based in San Francisco, says, “When a trusted friend declines to fulfil her duties as a bridesmaid, it is natural for a bride to be upset.” So don’t feel silly if you’re upset about it. She also says it’s important to keep in mind that, “She might have good reasons, such as a financial burden or a family emergency,” which caused her to make the uncomfortable call. So don’t be quick to judge her decision.
Your bridal party member, whoever that may be, most likely did NOT want to make that phone call. 99% of the time, it’s just an unfortunate turn of events which caused your member to drop out. They probably feel really bad about it and still, really want to be part of it. The key here is, they already may feel awkward and bad about the situation, so don’t make them feel even worse by blaming them for your wedding stresses.
You should ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the easiest solution to your problem: Leaving your bridal party one member short and moving on as-is. Nichols points out, “There’s no rule that your male and female attendants have to be an even number, adding someone at the last minute may make that friend feel like a Plan B, and if you have coordinated bridesmaids dresses, it may be very difficult to get a dress that fits the new ‘maid.” You are allowed to have an uneven bridal party. Don’t stress. Keep in mind that if you have someone in mind for a replacement, they may feel like a second choice. Be careful how you go about asking that someone.
After browsing some forums we found a few answers from people responding to distressed Bride-to-Bes, after finding out one of their bridal party members cannot participate in their wedding.
One person said, “Her absence may be obvious to your guests, so you want to make sure you are prepared to handle questions in a suitable fashion before you are wearing white, trying to celebrate your wedding.”
During your scramble to find a solution, don’t lose sight of your friendship. Another person wrote, “Whether she is dealing with an unexpected illness, the birth of a child, a breakup, a death in the family, whatever, chances are it was a big deal for her to drop out so unexpectedly from participating in your big day, pay some attention to her and provide her with the love and support she needs.”
What if you have another friend who is part of your wedding, but you decide they may be a good fit for your replacement as well?
Let’s say the other friend is responsible for reading the speeches/program.
Someone answered, “I would approach your friend who is doing the reading and explain the situation to her. Let her make the choice on if she wants to be a bridesmaid or not. I think it’s key with how you bring it up to her and how you explain everything. Apologize for waiting so long, and let her know that if she doesn’t want to be a Bridesmaid or Best Man, there will also be no hard feelings. Be prepared for her to say no. She might feel slighted that she wasn’t asked originally.”
Another said, “I think that approaching her in the right way may make her see that you are sort of in a pinch and she’d be happy to do it, but again, just be prepared for her to say no if she feels like she was on the bridesmaid B list.”