“So, I’m about to ruin a surprise,” one of my friends told me as she flopped down in the seat across from me in a restaurant booth. My mind often works like a horror movie trailer, and I immediately began to wonder about all of the different, terrible things she could possibly tell me.
“Oh no, what is it?” I asked. “Is everything alright?”
Everything was fine. She explained that she and her fiancé were finalizing gifts for their bridal party.
“We’d love if you and Ty would be a part of our bridal party,” she said. “But we know it’s a big commitment in both time and money. We didn’t want you to feel pressured into it when you received the gift. No hard feelings either way!”
Despite not having been friends with this couple for much time, my husband and I did manage to quickly form a close bond with them. In fact, we consider them our very best “couple friends,” and we often spend at least one night every weekend hanging out together. So we were thrilled to stand up at their wedding.
But there’s no denying that we also really appreciated their consideration in not forcing us into a situation where we felt like we absolutely couldn’t say no.
Why? Well, these friends moved to our location from out-of-state and are planning to have their wedding back in their hometown. This means that my husband and I are the only people in the bridal party from out of town. We are the only ones who will need to pay for travel and hotel accommodations in order to be there for the festivities.
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Add in the cost of the bridesmaid dress and tux rentals, hair appointment, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and wedding gifts. We knew we were looking at a pretty hefty financial commitment.
Studies estimate it costs an average of $1,178 to be a bridesmaid in the Midwest. Then, add the costs for my husband to be a groomsman. Those bachelor parties add up! We aren’t talking about a small chunk of change here.
Of course, we’re more than happy to do it for our friends. But this experience got me thinking: we’re at an undeniably expensive time in our life. Looking at our 2017 calendar, we have a wedding in June, July, August, and in October. Other people’s major life milestones are no longer something that we just get to celebrate. They’re something that we need to budget for.
And we’re not alone. Another CentSai writer shared with me how one of her friends ended up going into serious debt simply because she didn’t have the heart to turn down a friend of hers who had asked her to be a bridesmaid.
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I personally can’t stomach the idea of going into debt for a wedding. A financial hole isn't worth carrying a bouquet. But I do think that these circumstances can cause some real internal conflict for many people.
Do you turn down a close friend in the interest of preserving your financial security?
Or should you be there for her on the biggest day of her life, even if it means flipping your cushions upside-down for spare change?
There’s no black and white answer here. It’s a decision that each guest or bridal party member needs to make for him or herself. However, for anyone who’s in this situation or who will be in the future, I’d offer this sage advice: you can turn down the offer. There’s a reason you’re asked to do this – and not told.
To all the brides and grooms who are stomaching their own hefty costs for their dream weddings, remember this story! Don’t forget to be sensitive and sympathetic to the investments your closest friends are making for your wedding. Yes, they’re happy to share in your special occasion. But happiness comes with a cost, and a pretty large one at that.