Anyone who’s been in a wedding party knows that it’s not exactly a cheap job. If you’re part of a bridal party, costs can escalate into the thousands quickly. Typically, the bridal party is responsible for their own attire, any travel to and from the wedding, a wedding gift, and, of course, the bachelorette trip. Bachelorette trips range from reasonable and thrifty to totally extravagant and expensive. If your bridal party is planning the latter, well, sometimes the reality is that you just can’t afford the trip. Don’t feel guilty about saying no. Instead, here’s what to do when you can’t afford the bachelorette party.

Don’t feel bad.

First and foremost, you’re not a bad bridesmaid if you can’t swing the bachelorette trip financially. It can feel like a duty and, that as a member of the wedding party, you should be there no matter what. That is certainly not the case. Joining the bachelorette party isn’t the same as purchasing a bridesmaid dress. It’s a much bigger expense and commitment and it’s totally understandable if you’re unable to make it work. Your finances certainly come first. No one should go into debt for a party.

How To Break The News

After careful consideration, you come to the conclusion that you just can’t afford the trip—now what? Here’s how to break the news to the bride that you can’t make the bachelorette trip.

Talk in person.

Since the bride is probably really looking forward to her bachelorette party, it’s important to have this conversation in person and not over text or email. Ask the bride to grab some coffee or a drink and sit down and let her know what’s up face-to-face. She’ll most likely appreciate that you took the initiative and time to sit her down and tell her in person. Having the conversation in real-time also ensures that there’s no chance for miscommunication (and no talking to other people on the side about the situation).

Whatever you do, don’t procrastinate the conversation. The longer you wait, the worse it’ll be to bail. As soon as you know you can’t make the trip, reach out to the bride to let her know.

Be straightforward.

Don’t beat around the bush when you finally do get the chance to tell the bride—and definitely don’t make any excuses. Don’t blame any other people or instances. Explain your situation and share your reasons—they’re totally legit and the bride will hopefully understand. There’s no reason to lie or take the roundabout way. It will just lead to more confusion down the line.

Also, be sure to explicitly thank the bride for being a part of the wedding party and invited to something as special as her bachelorette party.

Get involved in other ways.

Just because you can’t afford to attend the bachelorette party doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate the bride to be. Consider taking an extra step to let her know you’re still thinking of her.

Send something.

Get the accommodation details from another bridesmaid and send a gift to the celebration. Whether it’s themed care package, a few bottles of wine or champagne, a tray of room service, or even elements of decor, sending a gift gets you there in spirit. The rest of the bridal party will be thrilled and the bride will appreciate the gesture.

Plan a more low-key celebration.

After you talk to the bride about why you can’t attend the bachelorette trip, ask her if it’d be OK for you to plan a smaller something, as well. Here are some ideas:

  • Spa day. Wedding planning is stressful, so what bride would turn away a chance to relax and be pampered? Choose services based on your budget. That might mean manicures and pedicures or it may mean facials and massages.

  • Tickets for an activity. Based on the bride’s interests, organize a day spent doing something she loves. Buy tickets to a baseball game, go ice skating, or take a cooking class. In the midst of her wedding planning, taking a break for a favorite activity could be a nice way for her to decompress.

  • Nice dinner. You can’t go wrong with a girl’s night out. Even dinner and drinks at a nice restaurant won’t cost as much as a bachelorette party.

Offer to help organize.

If you have the bandwidth for it, consider offering to help with another wedding planning task like writing the table place cards or helping assemble centerpieces. You could also attend any boring vendor meetings with the her to make things a bit more fun. Taking on some additional tasks is a kind gesture that she’s sure to remember.

Don’t stress about it.

At the end of the day, don’t spend too much time or energy stressing over how to tell the bride or what to do about not being able to afford the bachelorette trip. As long as you are honest and considerate, the bride should understand. She probably wants the least amount of drama and stress surrounding her bachelorette party anyway.