The maid of honor is typically someone close to the bride, such as a sister or lifelong friend. Being chosen as maid of honor means that your friend thinks highly of you and wants you to be her closest partner throughout her journey to the altar. Saying no can come across as offensive or hurtful, but if you have a legitimate reason and are both honest and compassionate, turning down the offer does not have to wreck your friendship

Maid of Honor Responsibilities

Although modern bridal parties do not always follow the traditional rules, the maid of honor’s responsibilities have changed very little over time. The primary responsibility is to support the bride --giving her a shoulder to cry on when she feels overwhelmed, tactfully letting her know if she becomes too demanding and making sure that all deadlines are met. The maid of honor is also responsible for planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party, helping the bride choose everything from a wedding dress to a photographer, keeping the bride and bridesmaids on track on the day of the wedding and possibly giving a speech at the reception. In addition, the maid of honor is usually responsible for paying for her own dress, hotel room, gifts and other expenses. According to CNN.com, the cost of being a bridesmaid can often run more than $1,000.

Be Direct and Honest

If you want to turn down your friend’s request, show her the respect of being direct and honest. Talk to her in person, away from the excitement of wedding-related activities. Turning her down when you are first asked is best, but it is reasonable to drop out early in the wedding planning process. Try not to leave her in a bad position by withdrawing in the weeks before the wedding, unless you have a bona fide emergency. The Emily Post Institute stresses that financial concerns, health problems and family emergencies are all reasonable reasons to withdraw. Tell your friend exactly why you feel uncomfortable being the maid of honor.

Use Gentleness and Compassion

Wedding planning is stressful for many brides, and your friend might feel unusually sensitive. Soften the blow by carefully choosing your words, stressing how important she is to you and offer to help her new maid of honor choice.

Nurture the Friendship

Make sure your friend understands that turning down the maid of honor invitation is not the same as rejecting her friendship. Participate in the wedding planning activities as much as you can within your personal budget and time constraints. Invite the bride to spend time with you outside of the wedding planning frenzy, and remain open to letting her talk.