She may have been waiting her whole life for Mr. Right, but you haven't exactly been cooling your heels waiting to help her try on wedding dresses. For some girls, being asked to be the maid of honor is more of a tedious chore than a revered privilege, and many less-than-merry maids have asked if there's any way they can just refuse the position. The answer is yes, but we should caution that you really (really) shouldn't do so unless you have no other choice.
Turning down the position isn't like canceling plans to catch a movie or blowing off lunch with the girls. The maid of honor is the most esteemed, important person in a bride's entourage, and being asked to fill this role is one of the greatest compliments you can get. The bride is not only asking you to play a role in her wedding; she wants you to be her emotional support and the bridesmaids' supervisor. You'll help her find a theme, decide on a cake and select flower arrangements. So, unless you have a darn good reason -- say, you'll be in prison for the foreseeable future -- you shouldn't turn her down.
Still not sure when it is and isn't acceptable to say "I can't" to standing beside her when she says "I do?" We'll break down some of the common excuses women have used to get out of their duties and why they're just not good enough on the next page.