And how to do it quickly!
Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill

While no one wants to think about it, there's always a possibility that one of your bridesmaids will have to back out of her duties before the big day. The reasons are endless: Perhaps a family emergency popped up, or you two had a scuffle, or a last-minute business trip arises that she just can't miss. Whether you're able to understand her reasoning or not, you're unfortuantely left with a bit of rearranging to do before your big day. Here we share tips on how you can cope if a bridesmaid bails.

First, don't let it ruin your day.

If a bridesmaid decides she can't fulfill the role, the first step is not to panic. "You may be hurt, and rightfully so; however, your big day will be amazing no matter what," says wedding planner Kristin Mullen. And most importantly, forgive your now-former bridesmaid and let it go. "It's probably easier said than done, but it won't help your stress level or change the situation," says wedding planner Tara Lee. "Instead of lamenting over why she won't be there, focus on how to move forward."

Decide whether or not you'll replace her.

This is a situation that you'll want to handle delicately, Lee says. "You may be far enough out from the wedding day that it won't seem like you're asking [someone else] because you need a 'replacement,'" she adds. But, "If you're in more of a last-minute situation, it's probably best to just have one less bridesmaid."

Mullen says that there's no rule that you need the same amount of bridesmaids as groomsmen. "I often see mixed numbers and it works well!" she says. "You don't want a new bridesmaid to feel like a backup plan or second choice." However, if you are going to ask someone new, make sure to consider the timeframe, because she'll need to plan ahead to order the bridesmaid dress and handle any other bridesmaid duties.

Don't sweat the details.

It may be possible that you won't have time to make all adjustments after you receive the news, and that's OK, says Lee. Perhaps the programs are already printed, or hair/makeup appointments are non-refundable. Either way, don't worry about things that can't be changed. "These details, while possibly a monetary loss to you, are not as important as maintaining your sanity and preserving friendships," she says. "Small things-like the printed program-will hardly be noticed by guests. If the question does come up, be gracious and just say she couldn't make it to the wedding, rather than start gossip or drama."

Tell your wedding planner.

It's always a good idea to keep your planner in the loop with any changes or updates, Mullen says. "They will make sure the correct vendors are made aware. Several things will have to be adjusted, such as your bouquet count and ceremony and program layout."

Use your support system;

Don't go it alone-ask your remaining bridesmaids for help! "These women are your bridesmaids for a reason-they love and support you," Lee says. Find some time to get together (perhaps suggest a wine night!) to go over the details and reassign duties if necessary. And while it's OK to delegate, remember to be respectful of what they'll feel comfortable handling.

Keep a positive attitude.

Like any planning mishap, it may seem daunting at the moment, but it's important to trust that everything will work out for the better. "Most importantly, remember the purpose of your wedding day is to marry the love of your life, and as long as he or she is there, that's all you really need to have a perfect day!" Lee says.


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