Wedding Expert Tells Us How To Fire A Bridesmaid Tastefully

If you've ever planned a wedding, you'll probably know the struggle that comes with deciding on bridesmaids. Although picking someone to be part of your wedding party is a great way to show them how much they mean to you, it can also turn into a total nightmare. Whether it's having to calm down clashing personalities, or having to track down people because they keep flaking on the big events, there are certain behaviors that tell us that not everyone is right for the job.

That brings us to the awkward question we know all too many engaged people have faced before: Can you actually fire a bridesmaid? And if so, how on earth do you actually broach the subject? Well, chat exclusively with Meredith Bartel, wedding expert and founder of Plus One Planning, about this most awkward of wedding planning moments. And we've got all the advice you could ever need if you find yourself needing to say goodbye to a bridesmaid.

It is possible to ask a bridesmaid to relinquish their duties

It's important to remember that your wedding is just that: your wedding. Your focus on your big day should really be creating an event that celebrates the love between you and your partner. If somebody is doing something to jeopardize that, you have every right to ask them to relinquish their bridesmaid duties. "If a troublesome bridesmaid is continuously crossing your personal boundaries or falling short of your communicated expectations, they may no longer have what it takes to stand by your side," Meredith Bartel exclusively tells 

Bartel shares there are a few signs that may suggest it's time to reconsier whether this person should be in your wedding. This includes not offering you the emotional support you need, failing to do their tasks you ask them to take care of, showing a general lack of interest in your big day, or not showing up to multiple pre-wedding events. "Bridesmaids are meant to make this journey more fun, more enjoyable, and more stress-free," she says. "When your bridesmaids wind up causing you stress and strain, instead of relieving it, it can be time to reevaluate."

But first consider if it's worth the hassle

Of course, we all want our wedding day to be exactly how we pictured it, but before you fire a bridesmaid, ask yourself if the drama is actually worth it. In some cases, it may be less stressful to let your bridesmaid keep their role only so your friendship and/or family dynamics stay in check for the big day. This can especially be the case if the bridesmaid isn't necessarily argumentative or boundary-crossing, but simply someone who you are no longer close to, like an old friend who you told eons ago you would include in your wedding party.

"If the relationship has simply grown apart ... I'd ask myself if letting them go is worth the turmoil it might shake up," Meredith Bartel exclusively tells Women. "You can evolve as a person, but still honor the past relationships that helped get you to this point." Bartel highlights that dramatically stripping away someone's title may actually cause a lot of pain, which isn't something you or your (ex-)bridesmaid want to carry around during what should be one of the happiest times of your life.

"[Ask yourself] might it be better to naturally let things fade, and end your wedding on a civil, neutral note, instead of abruptly ending the relationship in a way that was harsher than necessary?" she says. "Consider the friendship on an individual level, and all the other factors of your wedding planning when deciding if this is a battle you are willing to take on." Bartel clarifies that of course, you should never feel pressured to have someone in your wedding party you don't truly want there, nor should you tiptoe around someone out of fear. But keep in mind that you are under no obligation to keep someone in your wedding party, regardless of how you may have felt about them years ago.

Take the time to do some self-reflection before cutting someone out of your wedding

Before making the potentially dramatic move of firing a bridesmaid, it's worth doing a little self-reflection first. While your wedding day may be the biggest thing on your mind every single day, it's important to remember that other people have their own important things going on in their lives that may take up a lot of their time. Be honest with yourself about whether or not you're asking too much of your bridal party, and consider asking for personalized advice from those you trust like your partner or a family member. Think carefully about if the specific reasons you're considering the cut and think about how important those things really are to you. Something as simple as them telling you they don't like their wedding party outfit? Probably not a reason to let them go. Refusing to attend every pre-wedding event? That could be a valid reason.

Even so, after you reflect, keep in mind your role in the situation. "Friendships are a two-way street, so don't forget to check in and be a support for your bridesmaids as well," Bartel explains to Women. "If the roles, duties, or expectations of your bridesmaids need to be shifted to best suit their mental load, you may be able to work together to find a happy compromise while maintaining your friendship."

Empathy is key here. People have other responsibilities and missing out on one event may not be the cause for too much concern. Perhaps your bridesmaid recently broke up with her long-term boyfriend, and is now finding it bittersweet to attend wedding dress appointments," Bartel shares. "Instead of holding your friend under fire, perhaps what they are truly in need of is holding them in a big embrace."

Try to fix things before doing anything permanent

"Before you dive off the deep end of cutting off a friend — I'd first make a good faith attempt at repairing the dynamic," Bartel advises. It's important you properly speak to your bridesmaid in order to get to the root of why they've not been there for you in the way you expected. After all, they may well have a valid reason. "Ask them, 'I've noticed you've been a little distant lately. Is everything okay? Is there anything you need help with?'" Bartel suggests. Having this important conversation will give you a better understanding of one another.

During this important chat, both of you need to make your boundaries and expectations very clear. Maybe they have children and can't help you out on school nights, or maybe they just don't have the money to attend everything you have planned. If your bridesmaid is open about the fact they can't give you the time and dedication you need, that will make asking them to leave their role easier. "If after a good heart-to-heart convo and a few repair attempts, it becomes obvious that this friendship is cracking too deep and resolution seems impossible, I'd then move into protecting your own peace — whatever that level of boundary setting looks like for you," Bartel said. You may even find that laying it all out on the table will make their departure more of a mutual decision.

But if you have no other option, relieve them of their duties as soon as possible

If you've determined the best option is to ask your bridesmaid to step down, try to make the decision as early into wedding planning as possible. What you don't want is to have to re-delegate any responsibilities at the last minute, nor do you want weeks or months of a strained relationship with them because they're not pulling their weight. "The deeper into the wedding planning you all get, the more time, money, and obligation that the bridesmaids will accrue," Bartel points out. How soon you can ask will vary depending on every situation, it's definitely better to make decisions like this before you gather your group to buy bridesmaids' dresses and people invest their hard-earned money.

It can actually be much kinder to your bridesmaid (or former bridesmaid) to get the awkwardness out of the way as soon as you realize things really aren't working out. "You can be a kind friend by not dragging them along, or wasting their resources until mere weeks before the big day," Bartel says.  "And, if the relationship does require extended time to come back around to a place of civility, it would be nice if that repair could happen before the wedding day, so they could extend their love and support — whether from near or far."

Just prepare yourself for some potential blow back

When it comes time to say goodbye to your bridesmaid, it's crucial to think about what you're actually going to say. Remember, your bridesmaid a person with feelings, and they likely care a lot about you, even if the role is overwhelming for them. This means when it's time to have the talk, you'll want to be as kind and understanding with your tone as possible. Specificity is key here. You don't need to lecture them, but if you have certain expectations of those in your wedding, let them know using clear examples why you feel they're not supporting you in the way you need.

But know that even if you're kind about it, you should still prepare for a less-than-happy reaction. "You can be as thoughtful and gentle in your approach as possible, but you can never fully prevent someone from feeling hurt, embarrassed, or angry about your decision," Meredith Bartel exclusively told Women. "Mentally prepare yourself for an explosive reaction, respond neutrally, and try not to take it personally. They might be looking for a reaction, and trying to invite you to stoop down onto their level, so try not to give them the satisfaction. It takes a lot of emotional fortitude to be the bigger person."

But stripping someone's bridesmaid title doesn't have to mean the end of a relationship. It's definitely still possible to still be friends with this person and even still have them attend your wedding. "Frame the conversation as that you are prioritizing your friendship first, and putting the wedding second, and that you are willing to give them the time/space that they may need to cool off before the friendship can resume," Bartel suggested. But whatever they decide to do next, you need to respect their decision.