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How do I remove a bridesmaid from my wedding party?

August 18, 2010


I see this question asked, all the time, all over the internet. And the answers vary wildly, but I need to weigh in. Instead of giving advice about how to do this, or to minimize hurt feelings – I want to talk a little bit about bridesmaids.

The whole tradition of bridesmaids had something to do with having lots of similarly dressed women standing together so that the devil won’t strike down the bride. Or something like that. Of course, it’s evolved a bit since then, but in my opinion – the whole concept can be just as sinister.

The Bridesmaid’s Role

If you go down that route and choose to have bridesmaids, please remember who these women (and sometimes men!) are, or should be. These are the people that got you to the place you are today. They’ve laughed with you over bad dates, and listened to you cry when your heart was broken. They probably remember your first date with your betrothed, and they should be just as happy for you on your wedding day as you are for them. These are your friends. Sometimes they are also your family, but in theory – it’s the people you love, surrounding you as you celebrate love.

Things bridesmaids should not be: Color-coordinated props for pictures, unpaid labor for “DIY” party favors, pincushions for 11 dress fittings or gift-dispensers. Sure, they may do all those things for you, but that’s not their function or goal. That’s not showing them any respect or love. That’s not the way you honor your friendships.

The Implicit Bridesmaid Agreement

When you ask someone to be your bridesmaid, assuming they know anything about you, they probably know what they are getting in for. They know if this is going to be a big affair with designer bridesmaids dresses and destination bachelorette parties, or if this is going to be a small, backyard-style affair. So, in theory – they can just say “no” if they don’t have the time, money or inclination to be in your wedding. Except, how often does it really ever work out like that? The social pressure to say “yes” is just overwhelming. And often, they do want to be there with you, and are honored you asked. And sometimes they have to say yes, to keep family peace. And sometimes people say yes, and have no idea what they are getting into.

Think About Why You Want Them Out

So, for some reason, your bridesmaid isn’t living up to your expectations. They didn’t hold up their end of the agreement. Why? Did you not tell them that you expected four dress fittings, two bridal expos, two nights putting Jordan almonds in tiny bags and some mock-up designs for save the date cards. What about the bridal shower and bachelorette party expenses? And the shoes, hair, makeup and dress they had to purchase.

Let’s say you did tell her all that, and she just … fizzled out. Didn’t show a certain level of enthusiasm, or didn’t show up for the group events. So what? Why are you kicking her out? Didn’t you ask her to stand with you, because she is one of your best friends? Is it really that big of a deal that she didn’t meet your expectations on this? Is there a chance you are treating her like a prop or a tool instead of a cherished best friends? Have you become an insufferable Bridezilla? And what do you expect will happen once she is “out?”

Almost all of the time, kicking out a bridesmaid means the friendship is over. Think about that seriously before you make that decision. Is this something you want to end the friendship over? Because that can be a whole other ballgame.

An exception? Your bridesmaid cannot meet the financial obligations of your wedding, and you are not willing or able to cover her costs. You should be gracious about this. You may be able to do this with some class and dignity for both of you, and remain great friends. Consider another role within your wedding that would make your great friend feel cherished.

In short – there really aren’t too many nice, polite ways to tell someone you no longer consider them special, and don’t want them to have an important role in your wedding. So, think about it carefully, and consider the ramifications. Also consider your role in the relationship. If you think that your situation has extenuating circumstances, or you want more specific help, please email me!

Creative Commons License photo credit: jenny downing

  1. August 18, 2010 12:19 pm

    Excellent post! I have recently been asked to be in a wedding though I doubt I’ll get kicked out since I’m the bride’s sister-in-law and to be kicked out would result in high family drama. The funny thing is that my husband (the groom’s sister) is going to be a groomsman but nobody has formally asked him. His name is just on the wedding website as a groomsman.

    When I got married, I picked people that I would never in a million years have considered kicking out. They were all family anyway and I’m also not inclined to be mean enough to do that anyway.

    • August 18, 2010 2:25 pm

      The thing about family is important. I left it out of this post – but if there is a bride out there considering kicking out a family member… something else is going on. Something not so good.

  2. August 18, 2010 1:24 pm

    This is good advice. When I was a bridesmaid for a friend of mine, I accidentally flipped out on her b/c of her constant demands. She threatened me with removal. Then we both cooled down and realized we were both being stupid. That was four years ago and she’s still one of my best friends. In the grander scheme of things, the details you freak out about before the wedding almost never matter the day of.

    Incidentally, the three times I have been a bridesmaid, I’ve never actually been asked. Each time, it was just assumed I’d be part of the wedding party. They were all people I loved, so it was okay, but weird how none of them actually asked.

    • August 18, 2010 2:24 pm

      I’m so happy you and your friend were able to realize that there was some crazy on both sides, and that you were able to keep a great friendship.That’s really awesome.

  3. August 18, 2010 2:17 pm

    I’m convinced that everyone needs to go back to the days of weddings held in the backyard with a bowl of punch and some sandwiches. Also, can we ban any talk of “my special day”? (Funny how this always refers to the bride and never the groom.)

    • August 18, 2010 2:23 pm

      Ahem. It’s “My Special Day.” The caps are important here.

      NB: My Special Day includes not just the day of the wedding but also the rehearsal dinner, the dress shopping, the dress fitting, the bridal shower, the bachelorette party, the hair and make-up run through and … any other day the bride designates.

    • jmkenrick permalink
      August 24, 2010 4:15 pm

      I completely agree. One of my friend’s sisters is getting married and right now the big drama is that she’s angry at her fiancée because he isn’t trying hard enough to lose weight before the wedding. (Apparently he promised he would go to the gym four times a week and has been missing days.)

      Granted, I don’t know these people very well and so there may be other factors involved, but I just find this so confusing. Presumably she loves this man and wants to spend the rest of her life with him – how much can those extra ten pounds really matter?

      • August 24, 2010 4:18 pm

        That drives me totally nuts. For a lot of brides, it’s all about the pictures. Apparently, what you can show people about your day is more important than the actual people on the day? But, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about bridesmaids and tattoos!

  4. Jennifer permalink
    February 7, 2011 2:39 pm

    This information is really sweet and nice but unfortunately doesn’t help my situation. I was pressured into asking someone that I did not want to ask. As a person I like her and I do want her there but not as a bridesmaid. I like to think that I’m pretty easy going. I have asked my girls opinions on what they would like to wear and worked with them to find a happy medium so that they feel just as beautiful as I do on my day. I want everyone to feel comfortable and have a good time. That being said this girl is a nightmare. She is the rare Bridesmaidzilla. Everything has to be her way. My bachelorette party now has limitations on where we can and can not go. She hates my colors and every dress that is not Divalicious. She wants me to wear something that looks like a plain white sheet, while she wears a Marilyn Monroe like dress with high rhinestone sandals. I don’t know what to do about her and I feel horrible. The last wedding we went to together she started a fight with the girl next to her for no reason. Somebody please help me!

    • February 7, 2011 2:52 pm

      What happened when you spoke to her about her behavior? And what is it you like about her?

      • Jennifer permalink
        February 7, 2011 3:33 pm

        I haven’t spoken to her about it yet. I’m not sure how to approach the subject. She is very confrontational. She has a good heart, she’s just a little selfish. I don’t want to hurt her feelings or get into a huge fight. I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m in the wrong because I don’t want to go with the flow but, at the same time I have to look at the pictures for the rest of my life.

        • February 7, 2011 3:52 pm

          Again, this is the kind of problem that has nothing to do with weddings. This is a matter of you not knowing how to stick up for yourself or approach people when you feel wronged. If you don’t do anything about it, or talk to her – those pictures should remind you of when you felt powerless to tell someone they were upsetting you, not about her bad behavior.

          You approach the subject of her being a jerk the same way you would approach any other friend being a jerk. “Hey, Sally – you may not have realized this, but when you do X, Y or Z, it makes me feel A, B and C. How can we fix this?”


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