One of my dear friends is getting married. Hurrah! She’s getting married in early June in Orlando and is having a pretty large, grand wedding. We met in grad school, and even though I left the school (and the state) we’ve stayed friends from 1200 miles away. She is a lovely person, and in fact, had asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. Due to financial constraints, I told her that I loved her and would be there for her, but that I couldn’t be a bridesmaid. She totally understood (because she is wonderful). I know that she really wants me to be there, but my fiancé and I are having a really hard time rationalizing spending almost $1000 to fly down there, stay in a hotel for two nights, rent a car, and feed ourselves. We’ve looked into taking the train, flying in on the day of (nerve-wracking!), looking at less expensive hotels that are farther away, but no matter what we do, this is going to basically break our budget. We are planning our own wedding (to which this friend and her future-husband are invited), and trying to get on our feet having just moved in together. We even thought about just sending me, but that doesn’t really change a bulk of the expenses, and then I’d be alone and I don’t know anyone else going to the wedding, so I’d rather not do that.
I am absolutely torn up about this because I love her and I know how much she wants me there. I know that if I were in her shoes, and I’m sure that in a few months, I may be, that if someone told me that they couldn’t come to my wedding for financial reasons, I would totally understand, even if I was a little heartbroken. My question is this: how do I tell her this without completely tearing her apart, and how do I let her know how much I love her and support her in this wedding/marriage?
Thanks for your help,
Largely Emotional—Please Offer Opinions and Recommendations
Dear LE POOR,
Gosh can I relate. It’s really hard to have so many loved ones scattered far and wide. I want to go to all the weddings! Unfortunately, taking a tour of the continental US just to sample wedding cakes isn’t financially feasible (at least this is what my husband tells me).
You said you’re in the process of planning your own wedding, so take a breath and think about how silly this situation is. You’re stressing and feeling guilty about being unable to go. She’s probably stressing and feeling guilty about asking you to travel so far. Is that the way weddings are supposed to work? Invitations fraught with guilt and stress on both ends? What a mess.
Being invited to a wedding is sort of similar to hosting a wedding. In both situations, you need to make thoughtful decisions that suit your ideals and budget, without being overly concerned with what people will think as a result. In both situations, you need to let people be grown-ups instead of feeling it’s your responsibility to make everyone happy. You know how your wedding is not an imposition? Well, guess what. Your choice to attend or not attend is not an imposition. An invitation is not an obligation.
I know you really, really want to go, so just to cover your bases, make sure you explore all of your options. Have you looked for someone to stay with while you’re in town, instead of shelling out for a hotel? Have you asked her if there’s anyone else traveling from your area who could give you a ride? Have you tried hitchhiking? (Just kidding, don’t do that. It’s dangerous.)
If it flat out looks like there’s no possible way—call her. Luckily, your friend sounds amazing and understanding, so this conversation shouldn’t be too painful. But, it’s much better to explain the situation in person than to send an email or a “not coming” response card. She’s going to be sad—understandably so. You’re awesome! Of course she wants you there! There’s no way to soften that blow. Facts are facts and money is, well, money. And kind of rare these days. If she’s as understanding as you say (or ever watches the news at all), she’ll realize that this is a matter of unfortunate circumstance, and not one of ill will.
Once you make it clear that you love her but your checking account doesn’t love you, send her a great wedding gift. Even better, write her a little letter including all of your well wishes for their marriage. Hopefully, they’ll be able to come to your wedding, but if finances are unkind to everyone (the monies can be very cruel), plan for a visit later when she isn’t surrounded by guests and you can greedily soak up all her time.
Team Practical, how do you handle disappointing your friends when finances get in the way? What do you to show your love and support for a marriage you can’t attend?
Photo by APW sponsor Moodeous Photography.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com or use the submission form here. If you would prefer not to be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Although, we always love a good sign off like our friend LE POOR, here.