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My best friend is going through with her pandemic wedding. How do I cancel after agreeing to be a bridesmaid?

Summary List PlacementOur best friends are getting married in two weeks. My husband is the best man, and I'm a bridesmaid in the wedding. The couple chose to host an indoor wedding with 40 confirmed guests that will last for about five hours and include the ceremony, cake cutting,...

DIR

Summary List Placement

Our best friends are getting married in two weeks. My husband is the best man, and I’m a bridesmaid in the wedding.

The couple chose to host an indoor wedding with 40 confirmed guests that will last for about five hours and include the ceremony, cake cutting, dancing, and the whole nine yards. Guests are flying in from out of state.

My husband and I both voiced our concerns to the couple about how to keep this wedding safe during the pandemic. After many conversations, we finally convinced them that us wearing masks for the entire wedding was the right move.

Now my husband’s work is telling him he’ll have to take two weeks off after the wedding to keep his office mates safe.

Our hearts are breaking over this, but we feel morally obligated to say we won’t attend the wedding.

How do we tell our best friends?

– St. Louis

Dear St. Louis,

Disappointing friends is difficult, but betraying your own values may feel even worse in the long run.

Though the bride and groom might not understand your choice right away, being honest with them about how you came to your decision and explaining to them that it’s not personal could cushion the blow.

Since it’s a planning-related issue, prepare for your besties to be hurt. They may be upset you are prioritizing work over them. Even if you let them down gently, it’s good to have realistic expectations before entering a potentially heated discussion.

Ideally, you should break the news with enough time for your friends to tell their wedding planner and venue, Landis Bejar, a New York City-based therapist who specializes in counseling brides-to-be, previously told me.

But since you’re two weeks out, that might not be possible. Still, Bejar suggests scheduling a FaceTime date with your friends a few weeks before the wedding, and let them know in advance you want to talk about their upcoming nuptials.

During the call, remind your friends they’re an important part of your life. Then explain your decision to skip the wedding and be honest about how the event’s setup makes you feel from a health perspective.

If being in close quarters with so many people, even with a mask on, makes you feel anxious or scared for your health, say that. If you’re stressed that you could unknowingly carry the coronavirus back home to your elderly parents, tell them.

Your friends may be upset at first, but try to remain as calm as possible and remind them your decision isn’t a reflection of your relationship, but of the serious implications of the pandemic and your husband’s work commitments.

Then, see if you can support your friends from afar. Bejar said you could send them a care package, offer to follow-up with vendors, or simply be available for virtual emotional support.

There’s no way to guarantee a smooth conversation here. All you can do is be honest about your need to prioritize your work and your physical and mental health and hope your friends will understand.

They might not get it right away, but a true friendship will endure.

As Insider’s resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.

Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.

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