03/18/2014 06:58 pm ET

How To Tell The Bride You Don't Want To Be Her 'Maid (Without Being A B*tch)

The rules of wedding etiquette are constantly changing, making it difficult for modern brides, grooms and guests to find up-to-date and correct information. That's why we've launched #MannersMondays, a weekly series in which we ask our followers on Twitter and Facebook to submit their most burning etiquette-related questions. Then, with the help of our team of etiquette experts, we get you the right answers to your biggest Big Day dilemmas. Check out this week's question below!

Anna Post -- great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post and author of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette -- is here to help us answer this week's question. Find out what she had to say below:

If you don’t want to be a bridesmaid, let the bride know as soon as possible. Thank her for thinking of you (even if you don’t understand why she did), and then let her know that you would like to decline. How much you say depends on why you are saying "no."

The tricky part, in this case, is that while she thinks you two are close, you don’t see the relationship that way. There is simply no positive way for you to explain that you don’t feel close to her. Instead, say, "Thanks so much for thinking of me. Unfortunately I won’t be able to/It’s not a good time/I think it’s better if I don’t — I hope you understand." If you are planning to attend the wedding, follow up with how excited you are to attend.

In the (hopefully) unlikely event that she presses for why, be prepared to answer. The best option is not to answer the question. A broad "It’s just not going to work" is both true and lacking in specifics that could be hurtful. The alternative is to spell it out for her, but I can’t imagine that leading anywhere good. "Because I really don’t get why you asked," or, "We really aren’t close enough for me to be your bridesmaid," are pretty much impossible to say — especially as it’s clear that she doesn’t see it that way. This is why it’s not a good idea for the bride to start digging for more of an explanation, as she may not like the answer and it will only get awkward for everyone fast.

If your reasons for declining aren’t about your relationship with the bride, but are instead about a busy schedule or your financial situation, the wording above would also work. But if you are comfortable talking about it, this is the time to tell her the real reason why, as it will allay any of the bride's concerns about why you're declining. In the case of financial concerns, opening up to the bride has a possible added benefit: She might be willing to cover your expenses so that you can still be a bridesmaid.

You can submit your wedding etiquette questions via Facebook or tweet them to us @HuffPostWedding with the hashtag #MannersMondays.



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