Can I Get Out Of Being A Maid Of Honor Because I Had A Baby?

Is agreeing to be a MOH an Unbreakable Vow?

Q:Dear APW,

Two years ago my friend got engaged and announced they were planning a destination wedding. At the time she said something like “it’s a Zika country, so pregnant people are gonna have to figure that out.” I said yes to bring her Maid of Honor.

A lot has changed since then. My husband I have both changed jobs, We now have a mortgage, and we have a baby on the way. We started trying for baby earlier than we might have otherwise, so that our child would be born prior to the wedding so that we wouldn’t have to worry about Zika. (Otherwise we would have had to delay our ideal timeline to start trying to conceive by almost a year to accommodate her wedding and the post-travel period while you wait for Zika to leave your body). We are so grateful we conceived. If all goes well, our baby will be just four months old when it’s time to travel to this wedding.

But now I’m realizing the financial difficulties of paying for an expensive trip while on parental leave. (Not to mention the challenges of traveling with a newborn, and the vacation time it will cost my spouse.) There’s also the risk that we will have paid for the non-refundable trip in full only (payment due before my due date) and then if the baby or I experiences a health issue and we can’t attend, with all that money going down the drain, instead of, say, into my child’s education fund.

I feel like she has lost sight of how big of an ask this is and how big a financial burden. She has never once given me an “out” or expressed that she would understand if I can’t make it. I feel immense pressure. She was my Maid of Honor and she was wonderful and supportive. Her parents are paying for most of the wedding, so she’s not feeling the pinch the way we are. I don’t want her to feel that she was there for me at my wedding but I’m not there for her at hers, or that now that I’m pregnant I don’t care about her wedding. If it wasn’t destination there wouldn’t be any issue. (They are not having a reception at home either.)

I don’t want to damage our friendship but I feel hurt that she also can’t see that my circumstances have changed.

—committed under different circumstances

A:Dear committed,

First of all, congratulations to you and your husband on new jobs, a new home, and a baby. That’s all wonderful, and A LOT, and I think you’re understandably letting all that change get in your head.

You spend quite a bit of time explaining how you planned your pregnancy around her wedding, and I want to stress that you never need to do this. It is always okay to get pregnant when it happens and if you miss the wedding, you miss it.

That said, I am a bit confused that having planned this pregnancy so you could make it work, you’re now using the baby as the reason it’s impossible. You’re “now” realizing the difficulty of paying for an expensive trip whilst not working? Vacation time is somehow more of a problem than before? Here is the thing: you don’t need excuses. If you genuinely cannot afford to attend this wedding, that’s it! You tell her, and then you don’t go, because you can’t. But I’m not really convinced that is the case.

Travel with a four month old can be a real challenge, and I’m certainly not going to suggest that you need to consider leaving baby behind. But this isn’t necessarily an insurmountable issue. People travel with babies all the time. I’m 99% sure there’s a blogger who has gone to your destination with wee ones, and I bet if you do some Googling you can make a plan. And, again, if you can’t? If this a 12 hour flight to Buenos Aires and then a 4 hour bus trip somewhere? Then you can’t go. Just tell her.

As for the whole deposit thing, this is what trip insurance is for. This is not the real issue. You could have gotten hit by a bus and lost the whole deposit without a baby. Anyone who is putting down a big sum of money for, say, a week at an all-inclusive should be getting insurance routinely. Sounds like the costs of this wedding haven’t changed, you just no longer want to pay them. Which, look, is a decision you can make, but yes, 100% she will feel like she was there for you and you weren’t there for her, because that is true.

You need to work on owning your choices here. Your friend shouldn’t be giving you an out, because, frankly there’s no polite way to tell your pregnant maid of honor who has never raised this issue with you that “Hey, don’t feel like you have to come to my wedding.” If you can’t go to this wedding because of your finances or your baby, I totally get it! Two years is a long time, lives changes, and an agreement to be a maid of honor isn’t the Unbreakable Vow. But don’t blame her for a plan that she’s been upfront about from day one.

—Amy March


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