(ABC News) -- If anyone gets cold feet before a wedding, it’s usually the bride or groom.
But more often today it’s bridesmaids who are second-guessing their commitment to months of exhaustive planning and costly wedding activities before the big day.
If just want to say “no,” here’s how.
“It’s OK -- it’s a big responsibility,” Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute told ABCNews.com. "If you don’t have the time or the finances – and let’s face it, the desire – it’s OK to say no."
But if you’re going to decline a pal or family member’s invitation to be in the wedding party and don’t want to cut ties altogether, it’s important to offer your services in another way.
“Say, 'Is there some other way I can support you on your big day?'" said Post, co-author of the book, "Emily Post Wedding Etiquette." "Support can be anything – managing a guestbook, saying a toast, or just being there. Always stress that your friendship means the world to you.”
Jamie Miles, an editor of the wedding planning site TheKnot.com, suggests guests who decline being part of the wedding party offer up other talents.
"If you sing, offer to sing a song at the after-party or the reception," she said.
Miles said the most important thing to remember when turning down someone’s request to be a bridesmaid is to do it right away.
"Be upfront," she said. "Do it early enough so that it doesn’t cause problems down the line. Keep in mind that it’s better to say no now than to say yes out of obligation and be undependable."
She stressed that the cost –- the most common gripe about being a bridesmaid -- shouldn’t be an excuse.
"I don’t think money is a good enough reason because there are always ways around certain expenses," Miles said.
"Make it an open conversation, so you’re not just rejecting the invitation to the bridal party. Make it about your concerns,” she added, citing pricey bridesmaid dresses and destination bachelorette parties as common grievances for women.
"If this is a great friend or family member, there are always ways around it."
But if you’re still going to say no, don’t do it via email.
"In person or over the phone, because then you can talk it out a bit,” Post said. "Always remember that when you send something in writing that looks positive, it comes across as neutral, and something that looks neutral comes out as negative."
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