June 10, 2008

*UPDATED* Never a Bridesmaid, Only a Bride

So one of my close college friends is getting married this fall and she asked me to be a bridesmaid. Of course I accepted without hesitation, because she is one of my very good friends and I am so happy to be able to share her special day with her.

Oh, and she doesn't read this blog :)

Here's the thing -- her wedding is going to end up costing her bridesmaids an arm and a leg. A list of our expected costs:

Shower gift
Bachelorette Weekend in Vegas or Puerto Rico (airfare, hotel, food, other expenses)

Travel to the wedding, Hotel, Other expenses
Wedding gift

Maybe the problem is just my own since I will be on unpaid maternity leave in about 3 weeks, but I already forked over $260 for the bridesmaid dress and the prospect of spending close to $2000 when all is said and done is not an option for my household.

What I want to know is: at what point is a bride supposed to be conscious of the cost she is asking her maids to bear? Of course it's her day and no one will say anything to her, but isn't it a bit much to ask your friends to spend so much on your event? I've never been a bridesmaid before, so maybe this is standard operating procedure, but I know when I was planning my wedding, I was very aware that my bridesmaids would have to travel to my wedding and bear those costs, so I made sure to make everything else as affordable as possible. The dresses were $75; the shoes were $40 and I gave them the earrings I wanted them to wear as a gift. They all looked beautiful (if you ask me) and they didn't need to break the bank.

So does anyone have any etiquette advice on this topic? Is the rule that it's "her day" and she should be able to ask her friends to do whatever she wants? Or is there some level of courtesy that should be extended to her friends?

A potentially touchy subject, I know. But I'm curious...

I was just on CNN.com reading the "Most Popular" section and saw this article, talking about this very subject. Seems that according to the bridal coach quoted in the article, the bride has the "responsibility to be compassionate and considerate." Which makes me feel at least like I'm not crazy. But it's still would be hard to say "no." No?


Nerd Girl said...

Thank God my closest friends eloped!

I've been married for 9 years, but I tried to be mindful of costs for my bridesmaids when I planned our wedding. I only had two - my best friend, and his sister. I think their dresses were $75, I asked them to just buy a pair of shoes and have them dyed - I think they both went to Payless. They did have to pay airfare because we were married in California, but we were engaged for 2 years - plenty of time to save the $200 that airfare was "back in the day!"

In this situation, I'd just be honest - tell her that the costs are more than you anticipated, and with the new baby coming, you are very sorry, but you won't be able to participate. OR you could skip the bachelorette weekend since that's where most of the expense seems to be. Let us know how it turns out!

3XMom said...

I have been a bridesmaid 9 times (and a flower girl once). I was lucky that none of my friends went overboard. Destination bachelorette weekend is NUTS!!! That is crazy. I would have to say no to that. If you didn't have to travel to the wedding, maybe..but even then, I think no. But especially if the wedding isn't close, no way on the bachelorette weekend. That sucks. I would totally use the new baby as an excuse to skip it.

Anonymous said...

I am in a wedding too (the day after my birthday) and the bride wanted us to all travel to the essesnce festival for her "girl's weekend" but I just had to say no. She didn't want to pay for anything. For my wedding I traveled (and paid my way) to her for my girls' weekend. She also has requirements of the all the guest to wear white, can you imagine me finding a wear only once white outfits for my kids to wear white?! They won't be coming and she is sad but really. Also my hubby is not the wear all white kind a guy, you met him. So sadly he won't be coming either. This wedding business is getting crazy!

This is your "shorter" mocha friend:) not wanting to sign my name incase there is some crazy way she will find this.

Kimberly said...

Same boat.

Hang in there!

Smiling Mama said...

Oh my goodness, that is outrageous! I'd say you can definitely skip the bachelorette party weekend--maybe just send a little package of items to the hotel like a crown, bride-to-be t-shirt, etc. with a note about how you wish you were there.

Justice Jones said...

I was in this boat last year and there were 10 bridesmaids and me and only two other bridesmaids were annoyed about the expense of it all. Let's just say the wedding was on a tropical island and the hotel was the RITZ CARLTON. NUTS! So I skipped on the bachelorette weekend, didn't do a gift or a bridal shower gift and I stayed only two nights. I also did my own research and found my dress through a different company for about $30 less. I don't know if it's too late for that or not.

My suggestion is that you skip out the extra stuff, try to find a roommate for your room, and book your ticket now. A real friend will understand, baby or no baby. But the baby is a good excuse. I like smiling mama's suggestion. Maybe you can send the package to the MOH.

Advizor said...

I agree with SmilingMama. Tell your friend that you are saving money for the baby and that you'd "love" to go, but just can't. I would bet $1000 that the other bridesmaids all feel the same way, any party that required plane travel is out of the question, it's horrible that she should even ask.

Tell her that you can't go, but as her present, buy her a spa treatment or have some special gift waiting for her at the hotel. She'll know you were thinking about her on her ego-driven holiday.

My GF has turned down 3 bridal party invitations in the last year alone. There's no obligation to ruin your finances over someone else's party.

if the bridesmaids got together early enough, they might be able to convince the bride to be more reasonable and still have a good time.

Justice Ny said...

I feel like I have so much to say about the topic - but bottom line - do what is best for you and your family.

I've been in similar situations in the past and in every situation I ended up not attending the wedding because I simply could not afford it.

I was once asked to be a bridesmaid and the bride to be was very considerate. She was pitching in for the dress and she made it affordable because she knew that finances were tight (I was in my first year of lawschool then). She decided to make it a destination wedding and did not expect all her friends to attend because she was aware of the cost.
Needless to say, I did not go, but I believe that she totally understood and our friendship was not affected.

In other cases, all destination weddings, I was simply invited as a guest and just could not afford to go. The thing is I don't think that any of our mutual friends were in the same position financially so it was not an issue for anyone else but me. I had to make the tough decision to turn down the invitation because even if I tried to stretch my money, it just wasn't go to work out. I often wish that I attended these weddings, but knew in my heart that I could not to it. I believe that my friendships with these ladies were not affected (at least I hope not).

In your case, I suggest that if you afford part of the extravaganza then attend those events, but don't cut off your nose to spoil your face. If you can't afford any of it - then let her know. I am sure she will understand because she is one of your oldest friends.

The fact is, you ladies are in completely different stages in your life and it may not even be on her radar that things are getting expensive. She probably can't fathom what your expenses are and the worse thing that you can do - to yourself, your marriage/family peace, and your friendship - is to participate when you know in your heart that you couldn't afford it. You will have to live with that discussion in your household for a long time AND you may end up resenting her (even in a small way) for the entire experience.

Sit down with hubby and figure out what you can realistically afford (you've probably already done that and 'his' answer is - nothing). If you can afford some of it, then great and if you cannot afford it without sacrificing a lot, then talk to her - she may be updet at first, but I think she will ultimately understand.

Justice Ny said...

Spellcheck - please??!!??!

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Well, the Bachelorette party, that shouldn't be something she has any say in anyway. When I or any of my friends married the bridal party planned a night out...it was cheap and something the girls planned. It was more about being together and not about where or what we did. I paid for the hotel rooms for out of town guests at my wedding. I tried to keep everything else affordable too.

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