If possible, offer your talents in another way that works around the reason you have to say no. For example, if you cannot afford to be a bridesmaid, offer to read at the wedding. If you do not have time for all of the bridesmaid’s duties, offer to help with one event such as a shower or the bachelorette party. However, keep in mind that the bride may not feel comfortable having you involved after you say no, so if you offer, respect her decision if she declines. If she accepts, you must be committed to doing what you have promised.
Saying yes to being a bridesmaid is like a bride saying yes to the dress. You can’t compromise with a half-hearted yes when saying no feels right. Instead, go ahead and say it, it is what is best for both you and the bride!