Do I Have to Accept My Partner’s Friends?

Because they kind of suck

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

Q: My wonderful fiancé and I are getting married this fall and have begun getting down to the final details. For my fiancé, one of those things is his bachelor party. His best friend is planning a weekend trip to a city about two hours from us.

The other night his best friend called to tell us that a few of their friends are saying they won’t have enough money to attend. The trip is over three months from now so they have time to save and none of them are hurting for money. One is planning his own wedding and bachelor party (to take place before ours), but he recently managed to have the money to fly downstate for our other friend’s (who is also pleading poverty) birthday party weekend. We know these friends well enough to know that they tend to bring up money as an issue only when they don’t want to do something. My fiancé has already agreed to go to this other friend’s bachelor party that will cost nearly as much as my fiancé’s.

I don’t particularly like this friend because he’s a nasty drunk who has already cut my fiancé from his groomsmen selection (he included their other mutual friends). My fiancé has also not included him, but because we’re doing family only. They’ve been friends for about ten years, and during that time they have had periods of not speaking to one another because of this friend’s behavior. I really wish my fiancé would cut this friend out of his life, but that would be awkward considering they have other close mutual friends.

I have asked my fiancé if he would consider doing something smaller, but he’s determined to have the bachelor party he wants and is frustrated that his friends are trying to get out of his once-in-a-lifetime bachelor party when he often shells out money to do things with them.

Is there any way he can tactfully express his disappointment to them or should he accept that they’re “just like that” and let it go?


A: Dear Anonymous,

Sure! He can let them know he’s disappointed. But that’s sort of it, really. He can’t force his friends to prioritize their money differently or care about his party more. It’s also not really an either/or sort of decision. He can tell them he’s disappointed they’re not coming, while also accepting that this might be just how it is with these friends. Knowing that somebody is probably going to do something doesn’t always remove that sting of disappointment. (Sometimes it just adds to it because, “Ugh, I should’ve known.”)

I could write a whole post on complicated friendships and how sometimes, you have to accept people, warts and all (even though those warts are occasionally difficult to ignore). We all have friends who aren’t perfect and have ways that grate at us, are difficult to plan things with, or flake out on important events. More to the point, even our partners have friends with some irritating habits.

Because… it’s your partner’s friends, and your partner’s party, and your partner’s situation. So why are you asking for advice? If he wants to talk to them about it, sure! He should go for it. But that’s up to him, and should be motivated by trying to do what’s best for those relationships. Not motivated by your secret desire to ditch these friends. I get a sneaky, sneaky suspicion that you’re inserting yourself here.

I know that you’re concerned for him, and that’s the only reason why you even care about these dummies and what they’re doing. But, pushing him to dump his friends or tell them off isn’t your call. How would you feel if he was pushing you to stop talking to one of your friends? There are definitely times that require sit-down conversations about cutting toxic friends, but skipping a bachelor party isn’t one of them.

So, yeah, maybe suggest your fiancé mention his disappointment to his friends, but ultimately let him decide if it’s a good idea. He’ll know the relationship dynamic and whether it’s worth bringing up to them.

But, more importantly, get used to this. Things are going to happen to your partner that you won’t be able to fix for him, no matter how much you wish you could. I know that’s frustrating, but fixing all his problems isn’t a part of the marriage job description. You’re there to help and offer advice, yeah. To point out things he might not see, to protect his blind spots, to provide perspective. But the really big, powerful thing about marriage is having someone there to simply sit beside you as you face tough things. You’re not here to fix it all for him. You’re here to help him through it.

If you would like to ask APW a question please don’t be shy! You can email: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off! 

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Alice

    “But fixing all his problems isn’t a part of the marriage job description.” You hit that nail on the head, Liz! This has been something we’ve done a lot of working on, since we both tend to be fixers. And it is hard just to watch and support someone you love dealing with tough stuff, without always trying to be involved.

    • Eh

      I am a fixer, and my husband had tons of issues with his brother (who was supposed to be our best man) leading up to our wedding. Including his brother saying that he was broke and couldn’t afford the bachelor party before he had talked to the other guys involved or made any plans (note: my husband would have been happy with a night involving food and drinks at one of the guys houses – so not very expensive). It took a lot but I tried to stay out of it, while still being supportive.

    • Jules

      That entire last paragraph….Man. I wasn’t expecting such deep life/marriage advice, and then it was like- BAM.

      It’s so tough to feel powerless and to only be able to watch. We’re having some “growing pains” that have to do with DH setting boundaries with his family for the first time. It’s uncomfortable, stressful, and awkward, but the best thing I’ve figured to do so far is to support him and to normalize and validate his emotions.

      I figure this will come around again when I have kids that are dealing with kid problems at school that Mom can’t (and shouldn’t) try to fix.

  • Amy March

    Liz, is there an address to which we can send Muffins of Appreciation? This answer merits a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip.

    Also, I think pause a bit. Your fiancé chose not to make these dudes groomsmen, and you’re still irritated that one of them has now decided not to make your fiancé his groomsman? That’s the kind of irritation you feel when anything this guy does annoys you. Your fiancé chose to have family instead of his buddies and to go for what seems to be a pretty involved an expensive bachelor party. His dudes being a little less committed to showing up is a kinda natural consequence of that. Annoying and upsetting? Absolutely. The kind of mistreatment where it’s appropriate to be encouraging him to cut them off or take a stand? Not in my book.

    • Violet

      I’ve found when my partner is struggling with something, he’s struggling for a reason. It’s usually an issue riddled with pros and cons, and no one answer is clearly right (otherwise, it wouldn’t be a struggle). Encouraging him towards one position or another is a strategy almost destined to fail. Even if in this case the fiancé cuts ties with the friend, it’s still going to be hard and painful (even if ultimately it’s the “right” call, which, who can ever know?). LW is setting herself up to be the fall man for fiance’s inevitable pain or discomfort over giving up the friend. That makes it harder for her to then support him while he’s going through it, because he’s likely to, on some level, blame her for the painful position he’s in. It’s just not a good place to be.

      When my partner is struggling with something tough, I’ve learned to be supportive without pushing any particular agenda. That way whichever he chooses, it was of his own deciding (as it should be, considering he’s an adult), and I can focus on being supportive.

      • MDBethann

        I go with the you have options X, Y, or Z approach and help my hubby (or a friend if it’s not the hubby) talk through the options and the pros & cons of each. Heck, even make a list (I do this with my sister a bunch). If they ask what I would do in their position, I *might* tell them (depending on the circumstances), but I then also point out that I’m not the one who has to make the decision and live with it – they are – so THEY need to pick the option that feels best to them.

    • Liz


    • Greta

      “That’s the kind of irritation you feel when anything this guy does annoys you.”

      YES. I dislike my husband’s best friend. Luckily, he lives very far away and is quite flakey so we don’t see him that frequently. But when we do, I go into expecting to be annoyed, and surprise! I am usually annoyed. My husband acknowledges his flakiness, but is able to write it off. I’ve had to acknowledge that things pop out to me more just because it’s him. It was hard when we were planning the wedding because he was a groomsman, but now that we’re married, I just make a conscious effort to never bring him up, and my husband very rarely talks about him. When he does mention something about him, I acknowledge it with a “interesting” or “hmmm” and then change the subject. It’s not perfect, but I’ve realized it really is MY problem, so I do what I need to do to not let him grate on me.

      • kcaudad

        re: my husband’s annoying friends – we have made a habit of hanging out separately with certain groups of friends. I let him have his ‘guys night’ with those annoying dudes, and I get a night alone to do whatever I want! Or, I have my own ‘girls night’! It works out so much better when he can just do his thing with those dudes, and I don’t have to worry about it. It took some growing pains for him to be able to admit that he wanted to do things without me, and it took some time for me to be able to accept that, but it’s really worked out for the best!

    • YUP. Not to mention that in any relationship there is a sort of cost-benefit. It’s really his choice to decide when the cost starts to outweigh the benefit of being friends with his dude. I feel pretty strongly that SO’s really shouldn’t mess with the each other’s people. His friends, his family, his call (with the obvious exception of extreme disrespect towards the other party, where you should be able to say “get that person away from me because they treat me badly”).

  • I personally would caution against the “all or nothing” kind of thinking. Other than strippers and illicit sex (neither of which I hope would happen anyway), I can’t see why your fiance and his friends can’t get together another time. You get one shot at your wedding, there are many more weekends where your fiance and his friends can hang out. There is more than one way to look at this. Life is too short to focus on stuff like this.

  • AR

    This exact thing happened to me. But then I realized (thanks Carolyn Hax!) that each person gets to choose how they spend their money. You are welcome to adjust your relationship or spending based on that, but you can’t do anything about what they decide.

    • CMT

      Yeah, I always bristle at the “well, they’re spending money on X, so obviously they have the money to spend on Y” argument. Unless you’re their personal accountant, you don’t actually know the state of their finances. Yes, it hurts when somebody declines your invitation, but it’s quite possible it really is due to money. You just can’t know for sure.

      • CMT

        But also, if they are using that as an excuse, why not just accept it? Do you really want people at your events who don’t want to be there?

        • Jules

          The very word “excuse” tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Its meaning implies you are doing something wrong or that you have an obligation. “Excuse” is what I think of when my mom had to write to the school to tell them I was sick, not what I want my friends to think when I am unable/willing to participate in something.

          “a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.”

  • Bket

    Death to the “weekend trip” bachelor/bachelorette party already. The expectations for people participating in a wedding have gotten totally out of hand.

    • Lauren from NH

      Yeah this tradition is getting out of hand. Expectations of awesomeness and cost seem to ramp up every single season and since most people haven’t been to all that many bachelor/bachelorette parties, I think a lot of times they get their expectations from TV and movies, which are pretty unrealistic for some people’s finances and friends. Not knocking people who like to party the traditional full throttle way and can afford it, I just don’t think it’s for everyone, but lots of those people don’t know it and thus drama ensues.

      • Amy March

        I think the point about being unrealistic for some groups of friends is so key. It’s just unrealistic for me to think my friends are ever going to surprise me with a weekend of bottle service in Vegas. Even though they can afford it, I know my people and it’s just not them. So it’s really on me to figure out a way to either a) be ridiculously happy with my fabulous friends being themselves, and/or b) figure out a different way to have that Vegas experience if I want it (omg I so don’t though).

        • Lauren from NH

          That’s exactly what I was trying to say, but so much clearer! I think people get so excited about participating in a milestone/tradition, but there isn’t much variation in how these rites of passage are modeled in the media and some times you don’t have a lot of personal experience to go on. You know your people, but is this somehow different? A lot of these traditions are in flux right now and depending on your area, many in our generation are pretty nontraditional people, but still sincerely interested in living meaningfully, I think.

          My shower was this past weekend and my wonderful friends showed up no questions asked. But being one of the first of us to get married, at the beginning everyone was a little awkward wondering, “what are we SUPPOSED to be doing?” It was hosted by my FSIL and I had taken a hands off approach, so we just didn’t know. It lasted for a minute or two and then everyone was just themselves and we muddled through.

        • THIS! Most of my friends are laid back, people have kids etc and the time/money just isn’t there and even if it was, it’s just more to ask of people now than it would be if we were all still in our 20’s. The idea of a Vegas thing is nice, but so is something a but more understated.

      • laurasmash

        I also think that wedding doesn’t have to be the only time you can do an awesome girls weekend. It might actually be the WORST time since everyone has so many other wedding-related time/financial obligations. I was initially a little disappointed that I couldn’t have a bridal shower with my current-city friends because only 2 of them were invited to the wedding due to it being on the other side of the country. I had recently thrown a shower for a friend who was getting married locally and it was the most. fun. ever. But then I realized that wedding is not the only excuse to have an awesome and hilarious girls event and I haven’t actually been robbed of my chance for this, I just get to do it some other time for no reason at all, and I don’t have all the wedding related stress to deal with. Everyone wins!

        • Greta

          yes to this! We started having monthly girls nights (like a book club, but without books, and with lots of wine and cheese) and they have been so wonderful and lovely. We’re now planning a girls weekend because we have so much fun together. No one is getting married, just a fun weekend with friends!

      • Cate

        Nail on the head. A good friend of mine got married last year, and a couple of her now-husband’s friends surprised him with a trip to Las Vegas, because that’s the kind of thing they would do. They didn’t invite all of the groomsmen or his other friends because they didn’t want to put pressure on anyone to spend that kind of money. They also threw a local party for everyone so that no one would feel left out. They could afford to do that and it was their style.

        Meanwhile, I and the rest of the bridesmaids planned a surprise shower for the bride that included serving a 3-course lunch to 40 guests at a nice restaurant. When we started talking about a bachelorette party she said it was unfair that her husband got 2 and she would only get 1, so I gently reminded her that we had already thrown her 1 party and were now talking about the second.

        Ultimately she demanded that we take her to New York and rent a private karaoke room, then go dancing at a club, then go out for late night Korean food, and stay in a 4 star hotel. We could have done all of that in Philadelphia, which is a ~30 minute drive for all of her friends, and the guests who didn’t have extravagant budgets could’ve come for karaoke and dancing and then gone home, instead of having to miss out altogether. When I pointed that out to the bride, she said Philadelphia isn’t as special as Las Vegas, and she didn’t care who else came as long as her bridesmaids took her to NYC.

        So her feelings weren’t hurt if people couldn’t come, but only because for her it wasn’t about spending time with her friends, it was about keeping up with her husband-to-be and wanting it to *look* like her friends cared about her as much as his friends cared about him. Which of course we did (and do), but the guys who took her groom to Las Vegas were all single and a couple of them still live with their parents, despite having great jobs and the means to buy houses of their own, while all of the bridesmaids have families and mortgages or rent, and we had *already* thrown her an expensive surprise party.

        I think she was a victim of unrealistic expectations based on movies and the influence of the WIC (she has never been a reader of APW, but she loves her some “Say Yes to the Dress” and “My Fair Wedding” and “Bridezillas”) and the problem was compounded by the fact that some of her groom’s friends actually decided to reenact The Hangover. The difference between his friends choosing to do that for him because they wanted to versus her friends being compelled to take her to New York because she wanted us to was completely lost on her.

    • Amy March

      I love them! My friends are so spread out that I’m used to traveling to visit them anyway. But I think an absolute must is being completely okay with it if people decline. No guilt, no lingering hurt feelings you try to hide, no viewing them as less committed to your friendship etc.

      • TeaforTwo

        And I think it’s also important not to view it as a wedding party requirement. I’ve heard a few people talking this week about declining being in wedding parties because of the expense…I can’t imagine being a bride or groom who just accepted that answer! I picked my wedding party because they were the people I wanted standing next to me when I got married. If they had to do it wearing clothes they already owned or without throwing me a shower, etc. that wouldn’t change that they were the ones I wanted standing there.

        Girls’ weekends away are great, but they should have nothing to do with honouring your besties at your wedding.

      • Bket

        I agree with this completely. I love traveling and visiting with my friends. I think most people aren’t okay with it, however. Much like the OP.

      • Annie

        Very much agreed. If I can afford to go, I think of it less as a bachelorette weekend than a chance to see friends I love but rarely get to see. And if it doesn’t happen to be in the budget, I’m sad to miss out, but no one’s ever guilted me for it. (Same goes for any life celebration party–weddings, bridal/baby showers/etc.)

      • Nora

        I love them too, and am having one! I’ve made it repeatedly clear to both my bridesmaids and other invited friends that it’s a completely optional, no-hard-feelings kind of thing, and we’re staying at a friend’s parents’ rental property for free and pooling groceries to keep expenses down. With friends spread out all over the place, events like these are the only times we get to see one another and catch up.

        Friends I know who really hate this kind of thing seem to have friends who are always asking them to spend lots of money and do things they’re not into (usually clubbing/bottle service/bar-hopping in Vegas or Miami) which makes me really glad that my friends all prefer to sit and drink wine in a living room somewhere.

    • macrain

      I actually like them too, mostly because as I’ve gotten older there has just generally been less time with my girlfriends than I would like.
      I also don’t think just having one means your expectations are out of whack.

      • MABie

        For many people, there is just no way to avoid out-of-town pre-wedding functions any more. In this day and age, people are scattered everywhere. You don’t live in the same town for your whole life.

        The members of our bridal party, for example, live in Chicago, Little Rock, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Portland, OR. We live in Atlanta. We are having our bachelorette party here, and we are hosting it at our house. Only about half of the people in the bridal party are attending. The ones who don’t feel comfortable spending the money for the plane ticket aren’t coming, and my feelings aren’t hurt AT ALL.

        My best friend has been a bridesmaid in two weddings where the “bachelorette weekend” was a serious undertaking; one was a 3-day trip to Vegas, and one was a several-day trip to Mexico. I do think that is a lot to ask of people, but again, my best friend elected not to attend these functions because she couldn’t afford it, and it didn’t seem like her friends were that upset about it.

        We all get to choose how to spend our own money.

        • Bket

          Absolutely. Two of my bridesmaids came from each end of the country (one in Washington, the other in Connecticut). I live in Louisiana. When they got here for the wedding, because they were coming to the wedding, about 9 of us went to dinner then to a local hangout for drinks. And it was lovely. And I loved to see them. But what happens most often is what the OP is describing – a feeling of frustration that other people are not spending their money to take a second trip to celebrate “your special day”. I think you are probably rare in that your feelings weren’t hurt. And I’m so happy that most of my friends got married almost 10 years ago, when the “weekend” wasn’t a thing.

      • Jules

        This is exactly why I wanted one. And because half of them weren’t in a position to spend much cash, we basically hung out like we normally would. It was great, but I did have to continually readjust my expectation that a bachelorette party means a posh hotel, riding down the Strip, hanging out in a limo, and popping champagne bottles.

    • Jules

      I understand this sentiment; I really do. But I think part of the reason for this is that it often comes off as an obligation, which is the bigger problem.

      However, if you’re my BFF, I’m going to visit you almost every year (or you’ll visit me). If we slap a “bachelorette party” label on it, I’m cool with that, as long as you know I still can’t afford bottle service, a limo, and an entire night in a strip club. If I wouldn’t normally consider taking a trip to Vegas with you, generally I won’t find your wedding as the reason to start though.

      • Sarah E

        Yes, I think a major issue for me on bachelor/ette parties and showers, too, is that somehow these labels mean everybody’s behavior changes. The laid-back friend group gets frenzied over penis things or formal over tea sandwiches and it’s so difficult to enjoy time with everyone with all the trappings in the way.

        Weekends away can be cool if they’re in line with how you normally hang with your friends– whether you’re party people, cabin people, interesting AirBnB location people, whatever. It’s when various friend groups are mixing (almost guaranteed difference in expectation there) and the activities chosen aren’t in line with how you normally interact with each other thay sets up bad times. For me, I would find it really hard to spend quality time with all my far-flung friends even if they WERE in the same place for a whole weekend, if I then mixed in a bunch of other friend groups/cousins/SIL etc. In which case it feels less like getting to see long-distance pals for a fun outing and more like a parade of obligation.

    • Sarah

      Yeah….I love trips but coordination can be a pain especially with limited vacation days, kids/spouses, life, etc.

    • TeaforTwo

      Amen, especially to your last sentence. I was invited to a bachelorette party this spring that I could not believe. It was in town, but it involved a day at the spa, a multi-course meal at a very high-end restaurant, a limo, a club, a sleepover in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton. (IN A CITY WE ALL LIVE IN.)

      The bride’s rationale was that it was cheaper than going away for a bachelorette weekend, and we could all afford it. Technically, yes, I have enough money in the bank that I could have done each of those things without going into debt. But that doesn’t mean I want to spend $600+ on a twelve hour party. And as someone who is already married, I need to run that level of spending past my husband with whom I share my finances.

      I will add to that, though, that I went to a bachelorette cottage weekend last summer that was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time: 48 hours with girlfriends and no partners or kids was an unexpectedly huuuuge luxury, and we were all very grateful for the excuse to make those arrangements so we could all be together. I think without something labelled “wedding! one shot at this!” it would have been too hard to get that group together all at the same time.

      I think expectations are the key here. Nothing necessarily wrong with a weekend trip with friends. But something seriously wrong with that being the baseline celebration-for-before-you-get-married. It’s never ever going to be reasonable to EXPECT that people drop that kind of cash on you, or to cast aspersions on their reasons for not wanting/being able to.

      • Bket

        I agree with that completely. But it’s been my experience that most people cannot put on this kind of function without those expectations.

      • Not Sarah

        I don’t like it when people decide what I can and cannot afford. We all have different priorities in life and just because someone can approximate my income doesn’t mean they know what mine are.

      • laurasmash

        “48 hours with girlfriends and no partners or kids was an unexpectedly huuuuge luxury”
        Yessss. I think there is often a difference between what is typically thought of as “luxury” – limos and champagne and fancy hotels- and what is actually a luxury to YOU.

        • Annie

          Yes! And if the party includes several good friends, most of the time I’d rather just have a fun night/weekend with them than do expensive stuff because it’s a bachelorette party. Not everything has to be expensive and over the top to be fun.

    • Kara Davies

      I’ve never been to a weekend trip bachelorette party, ever.

      Dinner, line dancing, and naughty games for my bestie? Check.
      Best friend’s destination wedding where all the bridesmaids stayed in one hotel room the night before the wedding? Check.
      BBQ/luau dinner and funny games for a very young bride friend? Check.
      Assembling the wedding programs, mani-pedis, teriyaki lunch, scoping out the wedding photo locations, fajita dinner and drinks before a rousing round or two of penisary (my MOH’s homemade naughty version of pictionary) for my own bachelorette party/day? Check.

      What more do you need to do?

      • Lauren from NH

        Those all sound pretty awesome to me. Food and drink and friends (actually any two out of three on a average day) and I am a happy camper.

    • elle

      Completely agree! Whenever my partner or I get invited to an out of town bachelor/bachelorette party, we are like “uggggh”. We always feel obligated but never really want to go. These things are SO EXPENSIVE. I live in a great, huge city where there are literally endless options for a great party. I just went on an out of town bachelorette party that I was at for 36 hours and it cost me $800. Do you know what I could have done with $800 in my own city? Also, with limited vacation time and funds, I would much rather spend that time & money on a vacation that I want to take and not that someone else planned for me. I know this sounds super scroogey, and if it was my ride or die BFF, I would be amped to go. But having a large group of friends, I feel like we are both constantly being invited to these things and not wanting to spend the money or the time away from our family never seems to be a good enough reason to the bride or groom, and LW is the perfect example of that.

      I assure you I am much more fun than this rant lets on! ;-P

      • anon

        This makes me feel better. I planned a bachelorette party beach weekend as a MOH. I think in total the girls invited shelled out $200, including lodging, gift for the bride, and drinks for the weekend, and food. I felt a little bad asking everyone to put out that much. But it was a 3 day trip, and time at the beach, and two nights in bars, so all in all it was pretty cheap. Now I know that $800 has happened, I feel not so bad!

    • Vanessa

      Enh, just because it’s not right for you doesn’t mean it needs to go away entirely. It’s up to you to participate or not, and if it’s not optional that says more about your “friends” than it does about the practice of a weekend trip.

      My group of friends regularly vacations together (ie weekend trips to the mountains but also longer international trips) and many of our best friends are spread out over the country. Weekend bach trips work for us because many people have to fly anyway, we put a high priority on travel and we love to spend time together as a group. That’s not true for everyone, and that’s totally ok too.

      That’s what APW is supposed to be about – figuring out what is best FOR YOU instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach.

      • Bket

        I vacation with my friends as well. But I think it’s become an expectation that a wedding has become now a series of out-of-town events, rather than one – a wedding. And if you have good friends that are scattered, but that group isn’t necessarily all friends together, then what happens is folks give up limited vacation time all for separate events related to your wedding. I’m not objecting to the idea that friends travel together, I’m objecting to the idea that the out-of-town bachelorette – which frequently takes place in a place no one lives – has become an expectation for a wedding.

      • tr

        Managing expectations is key! OPTIONAL weekend bach parties are awesome. EXPECTING people to give up their weekend and shell out $600+ is not awesome. Some brides forget that their friends’ time and budgets do not revolve around them.

    • raccooncity

      In the area of the world where my friends mostly live, and thus most of my bachelor(ette) situations take place, the weekend trip usually refers to camping/someone’s family cottage. It’s usually MUCH cheaper than a night out in the city, and you can stay up all night. I fully agree with you on weekend dos that are in Vegas or whatever (although I just say no to anything like that and no one has cared so far), but the weekend trip concept isn’t necessarily bad!

      • MDBethann

        Sounds like what we did for one of my BFFs. Her MOH had a relative with a place at the shore, which we used for free for the weekend, and we spent the evening on the boardwalk with a scavenger hunt & pizza. The groom’s 16 year old sister was in the bridal party, so having the condo was great because we could include her in everything. The beach was only an hour away for most of the bridal party (I was the lone exception but i LOVE the beach so it worked for me!) and is the bride’s favorite place. We brought our own alcohol & made brunch ourselves. Not everyone was friends going into it but we had a great time celebrating the bride and being goofy, which is what she wanted. And none of us broke the bank.

        We had a “pre-wedding party” for our wedding and got group tickets for the picnic pavilion at a minor league ballpark near our families. We looked at it as a chance for everyone to get to know each other. Unfortunately, our out of town friends couldn’t make it and it rained so the game was post-poned, which was disappointing, but it happens. My friends who couldn’t make it threw a lovely tea shower for me which was totally awesome & loads of fun. So we just found different ways to celebrate with everyone. Sometimes it works and sometimes, the logistics are just too difficult for everyone to make it.

    • Weekend trips are fun and awesome, but the obligation aspect makes me uncomfortable. I think these can work as long as it’s pretty clear that attendance is NOT an obligation. My issue is never with the question “hey, would you be up for this?” as long as it’s not a slight on the friendship if my answer is “not really in the budget right now, sorry.”

  • macrain

    “But the really big, powerful thing about marriage is having someone there to simply sit beside you as you face tough things. You’re not here to fix it all for him. You’re here to help him through it.” I really needed to hear this! My husband recently asked for my take on some things related to his career, and I couldn’t untangle myself from the outcome. I thought I had to get him to see why I was right or his career would suffer. It’s hard because I want so much for him and I feel so invested in him following his dreams, and I have sacrificed certain things to help him get there. Maybe career is a bit of a different story since it does impact both of us, but- reading Liz’s words reminded me to take a step back.

    • kcaudad

      Once I have stated my opinion, I have started to end conversations like that with the phrases: “…but, do what you feel is best” or “let me know what you decide” or “I love and support you either way”. It reminds us both that it’s really HIS decision to make.

      • macrain

        Good call, I love that!

  • anon

    Can we carve a little space for the greater question here in the title? Or more aptly, does anyone have advice on how to accept your partner’s friends that you just…really can’t stand, even if they are generally good friends to your partner?

    I try to intellectually accept his one good friend, but he’s consistently obnoxious (to me, from my view, where my partner thinks he’s hilarious) and his recent behavior at our wedding makes my head pound in a dull pain. None of it was anything awful, but he was drinking and smoking up a storm where it wasn’t appropriate, got high at the after party even though we were pretty clear that we’d prefer a 420 free zone with our families around, tried to take over the DJ booth, made a showboating spectacle of himself, and very subtly/manipulatively guilted my husband for not making him the best man all weekend. I was super annoyed (though not enough to ruin my amazing wedding or anything, of course), but my husband thinks all’s well that ends well and that he’s still the funniest, coolest dude who means a lot to him. Fair enough, I guess.

    It’s been a consistent pattern of my being annoyed and my husband finding him awesome, and I know I can never (and would never) ask him to cut him out of his life, especially since they are old friends that predate me by not only 4 years, but an entire life stage (which matters more). They’ve been through a lot together and I do respect that, even if I don’t actually like him all that much. Which happens, right?

    Luckily, we don’t see him often but when he visits, the expectation is that he always stays for us and for 5+ days, and my husband would be the one who would be upset if I tried to say he should stay at a hotel or stay for less time (“You know he can’t afford that and he’s one of my best friends, like family.”) That’s where it really grates on me, especially since he really disrupts my schedule every time he comes (my husband’s too, but I’m not his mother).

    So since he’s going to be a fairly consistent, if annoying, fixture in our life…what IS the best way to accept him and come to peace with his presence, other than Serenity Prayer-ing all over the place whenever he’s around?

    • Amy March

      Can you start with little steps to maybe feel less irritated when he visits? Going to bed at your usual time and asking them to maintain a reasonable volume, asking that your husband handle the feeding/watering/clean linens needs of friend, making plans with your own friends for a night out while he’s there? Not a complete fix but a bit of breathing room might help.

      • Sarah E

        I agree with MABie and Amy March both. . .I think your partner should make some space for you and help provide the outs Amy mentioned. If he knows you don’t like extended time with this friend, he should be able to make your excuses as to why you “have an early day tomorrow” or “can’t get out of your other plans” and take care of his friend’s guest needs around the house.

      • tr

        This is pretty much what my fiance and I do. It’s usually my friends coming for visits (I’m bigger on entertaining than he is), but the agreement is that I sort of exile the friend and I to the sun porch as much as possible. That way, the fiance is not kept up until 3 AM listening to drunken inside jokes, and the guest(s) and I get to enjoy a little privacy. Similarly, cleaning and dinner plans are my responsibility. The only disruption for the fiance is that he has to fend for himself a bit more than usual and wear clothes when he gets up in the middle of the night.

    • MABie

      Tolerating weird behavior at your wedding? Ok. Living with him for a week? For me, that would be a huge line in the sand — and it seems like it is for you, too.

      It sounds like your partner is not meeting you halfway on this one. The dude’s obnoxiousness may not be the whole issue here; your husband’s response to your boundaries seems like a part of it. I do not think it is unreasonable for you to set the boundary of him not staying with you for five days, and you should not feel guilty about asking for a compromise.

      I wonder if you’d be able to make peace with his presence more if you felt like your husband heard you about this? He seems to have some sort of a block as far as this guy goes, but that can’t go on forever. You are married now, and you live in the house that this guy is staying in, so I think you have an equal say in what happens. Also, I can’t tell from your post if you have actually had a conversation with your husband about how you feel about the guy, but maybe that would make a difference? You definitely deserve to communicate your feelings and have them heard and respected, even if they make your husband uncomfortable and sad.

      Good luck!

    • Sarah

      This friend sounds like family…and may be around as long….so I’d view him in this manner. I know this is not advice, but may be a helpful way to frame the situation.

      • idkmybffjill

        That was going to be my suggestion. Framing him as annoying family in your mind might make it more tolerable.

    • Heather

      My husband has two friends like this. Fortunately, neither has come to visit. When we lived near one of them, I just opted out of events where I didn’t have buffer friends around (no double dates, but a group BBQ is ok). When he came over to visit, I would just do my own thing. I wasn’t being rude or anything, but it’s not like he’s my friend, he didn’t come over to see me.
      If he were staying at our house, I would seriously think about going to visit family or a friend for the week. Let them have quality dude time and I get to see my own friends! If that’s not an option, I would definitely not disrupt your schedule for him. I think that if you keep your own schedule, and let go of the feeling that you need to hang out with him, that will go a long way towards accepting his presence.

    • Alice

      Urgh, my hubby has a few friends like this, too, and they do the same routine of coming-four at a time- for a few days and staying in the house. He actually had words wih them the last time about some of their behavior, so he gets where I’m coming from, but that just makes me feel like a wet blanket, on top of being quiet and clean and ‘uptight.’ But again, I would never ask him to stop being friends, and they are actually all quite pleasant humans when they aren’t in a pack together. Sometimes there’s just not an awesome solution, and it happens less than once a year, so it’s not a battle I’ve chosen to fight very hard, although it sucks.

      • K.

        OMG YES, to the ‘uptight’ part! I hate that fairly normal things like going to bed at 11 on weeknights (and consequently preferring that the noise level not be too loud after that point) or preferring that my small apartment NOT smell like cigarette smoke (and consequently that my balcony NOT have butts littered all around) makes me feel like that wet blanket with a lot of my husband’s friends.

        I’m not saying don’t stay up all night; go to a bar. I’m not saying don’t smoke; just don’t do it on the balcony attached to my bedroom. But even that is seen as me being “lame” and inconsiderate, and DEFINITELY not the fun-loving, heavy-drinking, ultimately placating partner they would have hoped my husband would have ended up with.

        The worst. It DOES suck.

    • My partner has a friend who I have never gotten along with. Fortunately they live in town so we don’t have to deal with the visiting-part. So far, what’s worked is that he and this friend do their thing without me– that way they can spend time together without driving me nuts.

      I second some other people’s advice that trying to plan some trips for yourself around the time that he visits might be a good strategy. Maybe the weekend he’s there is a great time to visit your parents/siblings/old-friends-you-haven’t-seen-in-a-while. If that’s not an option, I think doing your own thing is the best you can do. The truth is that you don’t have to be friends with your partner’s friends. You can recognize that they are an important part of you partner’s life without feeling warm-and-fuzzies toward them yourself.

      When it comes to visits, it is very reasonable to ask your husband to set some boundaries. More than five days is a LONG house guest visit, no matter who they are. It’s fair to ask if perhaps they can limit visits to less than 5 days, or, if that’s just not in the card, that they both can go off and do something during that time (can they go camping or something for a couple days?). Either way, I wish you all the best in this.

    • Kendra D

      This feels so much like my relationship with one of my husband’s good guy friends. He just rubs me the wrong way on so many levels. My husband does acknowledge that the guy is difficult, obnoxious, etc but he says that’s just how the friend is. This guy predates me in my husband’s life by a matter of months, but they went to military training together. The one thing I will say is that regardless of how long they’ve known each other – your husband married you. If the friend is the type to throw this in your face (my husband’s friend loves to try and win arguments with me by saying that he’s known my husband longer) then it’s okay to say that’s not acceptable. Length of time knowing each other doesn’t mean everything – when my husband and I married we had known each other for less than half the time he had dated his previous girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean she gets a higher spot in his life. Neither does this friend. Or your husband’s friend.

      With my husband’s friend, I did put my foot down and while the guy is welcome to come visit, he’s welcome to do so by staying in a hotel. I have to be comfortable in my own house. Originally my husband was not on board with this and I flatly stated that it was non-negotiable.This guy grates my every nerve and I need a place where I can retreat away from him. I need to be able to have him leave to go to his hotel to sleep so I can have some peace and quiet. It wasn’t fun to take such a hard stance, but the reality is that my sanity has to be protected. I have to have a safe place that this guy hasn’t ruined.

      I don’t know if that is an option for you, but I think 5+ days of anyone coming to stay should be veto material for a partner. A weekend/long weekend is one thing, but I think once it crosses seeing someone in your house before your morning cup of coffee for three days running that anyone has the right to say enough. Maybe they can modify the visits to either be shorter or they could go off and do something for a day and night away to give you a break in the middle?

      • Jules

        Ha! Yeah, I don’t even want to share a residence with anyone besides my husband for >3 days.

        I agree that because he’s staying at your house (that you share, right?), you should be able to say, “Sorry, but I live here too, and I’ll meet you in the middle at 3 days/nights. He’s welcome to visit, but he’ll have to stay elsewhere for the other days”. If that means that he gets an Airbnb or shortens his trip, or if that means your DH starts meeting him elsewhere for trips, that’s what it is. Things change.

        Maybe part of the issue with those people who “pre-date” us is that our spouses have to recognize that relationships will change a bit once they marry, and it kinda sounds like anon’s husband is using some former reasoning to stay the path, even though there’s the new consideration of Anon in his life…and in their house.

        Past that, it’s just like having an annoying brother-in-law. You’re stuck with them. You don’t have to like them, but you have to respect that he is a significant part of your partner’s life and your partner needs to respect your needs.

        • Kendra D

          So much this. There is a massive adjustment to relating to people who predate you in a relationship. My husband and I both had to adjust to how we related to our friends as a couple, as individuals, and how we helped them to relate to us both as a couple. But it can be done! And it’s so worth doing.

          Everyone has to learn. As a newlywed, one of my husband’s friends moved to within two hours of us when we all lived on the opposite side of the world from our families. The three of us muddled through learning this together. And, while at first I resented this guy due to mistakes we all made, he’s now one of my favorites and I consider him my friend too. We actually had him officiate our vow renewal once we finally moved back home. But he was willing to learn to be considerate. I was willing to forgive and overlook mishaps. And my husband was willing to learn and set boundaries.

  • MABie

    I’m struggling a little bit with the LW/her fiance’s sense of ownership over how other people spend their money. Just because LW’s fiance agreed to spend money to attend the friend’s bachelor party does not entitle him to demand that the friend attend his. If LW’s fiance is upset because he felt obligated to spend the money to attend the friend’s bachelor party, then he needs to look inward and consider how his own values are lining up with his spending, not blame the friend for his choice. The friend did not charge the fiance’s credit card.

    A major sticking point for me here is that bachelor/bachelorette party weekends can be very expensive — often MUCH more expensive than a birthday party because every second of the weekend is full of activities that cost something. They often require staying in hotels, taking cabs places, etc. I’m uncomfortable with the assumption that this guy DOES have the money for all of that. It isn’t really LW or her fiance’s place to make that call. LW mentioned that the friend in question is also getting married soon, so presumably he is spending at least some money and energy on that.

    Also, if this friend uses money as an excuse to avoid going to things he doesn’t want to go to…well, I guess that just doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world to me. If the value of attending the party doesn’t outweigh the value of the money, then a person will choose not to attend. Which is exactly what LW’s fiance should think about with respect to his own attendance at the friend’s bachelor party.

    • Jules

      Amen to this. It is not tit for tat. Spending $500 on your party does not oblige you to spend $500 on mine. You need to do what you’re comfortable with.

      “this friend uses money as an excuse to avoid going to things he doesn’t want to go to” – For those of us with limited money (um, everyone who’s not yet retired…?), I think this is frankly quite common.

      • Greta

        Yes! I don’t want to spend money on things I don’t want to do. I’m happy to support my friends within reason financially. My friend is having a birthday party at a large camping music festival. Tickets are in the hundreds of dollars, and it will be a whole weekend. Would it be fun? probably, but it’s really not my cup of tea. Could I afford it? Yes, but I’m not rolling in dough, and I would rather not spend hundreds of dollars on a whole weekend that I’m not interested in.

        If it was a birthday party at a restaurant that I didn’t care for, I would totally suck it up and just go. Because it’s one dinner. Spend hundreds of dollars on a weekend that’s not my cup of tea, just to be supportive? Maybe not. That’s a lot of money, and I would have to seriously think about it.

  • Jules

    While easier said than done, my additional advice would be to NOT try to read into people’s decisions about money, inclusion, or attendance. We just can’t know all the details behind why someone didn’t spend on a certain item we expected them to (bachelor party, wedding gift….), why someone didn’t include us (in the wedding party, as a wedding guest), or why they couldn’t come. This goes for guests and brides/grooms.

    Sometimes people are truly being crappy, but sometimes good people make weird decisions or even mistakes. My brother leaving my wedding early was (I think/hope) more about his social anxiety around our family, protecting himself, and frankly just not knowing what’s appropriate or expected at weddings.

    I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be hurt, anger, and all sorts of feelings when people don’t meet our expectations, and you can certainly re-adjust your boundaries. However, it can ease the sting a bit to give the benefit of a doubt, as well as to remember that people are usually deciding what’s best for them.

    • macrain

      Yes, absolutely. The LW is assuming they won’t spend the money because they don’t want to go, but there is no way of knowing, and another explanation could ease the feelings of hurt.

      • Jules

        LW, I don’t want to come off like I’m piling on you since you know your friends best, but here were my thoughts…

        One is planning his own wedding and bachelor party (to take place before ours), but he recently managed to have the money to fly downstate for our other friend’s (who is also pleading poverty) birthday party weekend.

        Holy crap, he’s planning his own wedding, bachelor party, and recently took ANOTHER trip! Sounds like he’s spending a lot, and therefore money is currently a limited resource.

        The trip is over three months from now so they have time to save

        Unfortunately, I would probably decline a trip based on expected cost, not necessarily how far away it is. If your trip is going to cost $1000 and I’m not willing to spend $1000, then I won’t go even if it’s two years away.

        We know these friends well enough to know that they tend to bring up money as an issue only when they don’t want to do something.

        Or they could be starting the process of merging finances and budgeting with their fiance(e). In the months leading up to our wedding, my husband’s spending really changed as we established our financial goals.

        I get it, I get it, if they were really dedicated and awesome they would be spending the money and you think it’s probably just an excuse, BUT those are some things to think about.

        • TeaforTwo

          That piece of merging finances is HUGE. A few months after I got married a friend invited me on a weekend trip to NYC, and was surprised when I said I had to run it by my husband.

          Sure, it was different from when he and I were dating and had separate finances and I called all my own shots. But the truth is that we only have X dollars in a year for travel, and would both prefer we spend most of those dollars together. Just like if he spent a bunch of cash on a bachelor weekend in Vegas, that would eat into our ability to travel together later this year. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen, but it does mean we decide together.

          (I did wind up going to NYC, but doing it on a bit more of a shoestring than I would have if I’d gone with my husband, and we had a ball there, while he had a great weekend of having the house to himself.)

          • Not Sarah

            A few months ago, my parents wanted to come visit and I said I had to check with my boyfriend (we live together). My mom assumed that meant they couldn’t come visit because I hadn’t immediately said yes. She strongly believes it’s the woman’s job to manage the calendar and the man has no input.

          • Eh

            My husband tells his parents that he will have to check with me, which is more or less what they would expect since they also believe that it’s the wife’s job to manage the calendar. So they started calling me thinking they would get an answer faster. And then I have to tell them that I have to check with my husband/their son. They have a hard time understanding that we actually have to discuss these things first. That one person doesn’t make the decision.

    • Lauren from NH

      You are on point today girl! < Just had to put it out there.

    • Mrrpaderp

      Adding to this point – LW indicates that another bachelor party in this group of friends will be happening within three months (or less) of fiancé’s. It’s a little unreasonable to expect people to shell out for 2 expensive weekend parties, plus 2 wedding weekends, so close together. The timing just sucks here. Fiance has to choose whether to prioritize the fancy party or the people;LW suggested a smaller party and fiancé shot it down. Which is fine. But it seems pretty unbalanced for him to expect people to prioritize his wants when he’s not prioritizing theirs.

      • JDrives

        That was my thought, too. I make a pretty good income, but with all my debts/bills, plus other big obligations in the months before the party, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford to attend a weekend shindig either.

  • eating words

    “Things are going to happen to your partner that you won’t be able to fix for him, no matter how much you wish you could. I know that’s frustrating, but fixing all his problems isn’t a part of the marriage job description… You’re not here to fix it all for him. You’re here to help him through it.”

    I really needed to hear that. I want to fix all the problems, all the time! And I just need to learn to sit with the frustration and let it be there.

  • Nell

    Liz’s advice is spot-on.

    As much as the LW is frustrated with this friend, it sounds like the thing that affects her most is her future husband’s frustration and disappointment with him. There is nothing fun about coming home to a partner who feels ditched by his/her friends.

    This might be the moment when your partner chooses to jettison that friend, and it might not be. Either way, it’s his decision. The best thing that my partner did for me when I was frustrated with my friends pre-wedding was to tell me NOT to make any decisions about friendship until after the wedding was over.

    Some friends suck at being supportive, but they’re good at spontaneous fun times. Some friendships die a natural death because life circumstances change, other friendships have serious breakup moments. Regardless, if your future partner is using his bachelor party as the test of how supportive his friends are, he’s going to be disappointed.

  • BDubs

    Awesome! People discussing and giving best-intentioned advice!
    We need this post for “My honey has flaky, selfish friends and I worry about him” and a separate post about “What are the correct boundaries with my new spouse/fiancé/person’s close friends who are sub par in the manners department”.

  • rg223

    Thinking about this as someone who has sort of been on the other side of this issue. One of the ways my now-husband helped me grow as a person was to reframe how I saw friendships and the amount of time and stress I put into them when it wasn’t healthy for me.

    There was one friend in particular who I was very close with and mostly enjoyed spending time with, but ultimately wasn’t a good friend for me. Instead of flat out telling me that the friendship was getting toxic, when I would tell him about interactions with my friend, he would say things like “You say your friend made a comment that made you feel shitty a lot” or “Sometimes you’re really upset after you see this friend. She seems to say things that bring you down.” It took a REALLY long time for me to really hear him (and I ended up defending my friend/our friendship a lot) but eventually what he said sunk in, and I started to dial back on the friendship.

    So, if LW’s fiance is unhappy with this friend/this group in other ways, and it comes up in conversation with LW a lot, then there IS a middle ground between not saying anything and having a big sit-down conversation because the friendship is so toxic. It takes a lot of patience (I’m sure my husband just wanted to say at times to stop being friends with her), but the middle ground exists. If the fiance is completely happy with them otherwise though, LW will just have to let it be.

  • Kendra D

    I think part of the expectation management here has to be about what a bachelor party even needs to entail. If your partner wants a long weekend, that’s expensive and his friends can’t make it – can he subsidize their costs? Can he scale it back to something they could afford to attend? Is he willing to do this? He’s absolutely right that he can have the bachelor party he wants, but he may need to weigh his options. He can either have the big, blowout weekend or he can have all his friends attend – which actually matters more to him? His friends aren’t trying to get out of a once in a lifetime weekend, they’re explaining that they can’t afford what he has chosen to do – how to respond to that is on your partner.

    It sounds like you and your partner don’t live near all of these friends, which was the case for my husband and I with all of our friends and family. We handled it by doing our activities the day before the wedding so that no one had to make a big trip somewhere twice. We had a morning rehearsal and then my husband and all the interested guys went out to a gun range and went shooting. My friends and I all went wine tasting. We paid for all of the bullets/targets/etc so the friends had no cost on his side. One of the wine tastings was free and my MIL covered the cost of the second. That night, after our Welcome dinner, two of my friends who didn’t get to town in time for anything earlier hosted a party in their hotel room. We drank pink champagne (the 5 dollar a bottle kind) while telling stories and laughing. It was one of my favorite parts of the wedding.

  • Janrpoole

    ^^^^^Get It Now.p-r-a-c-t-c-a-w-e-d-i-n

  • Rosieeflores

    Now Get It -aapprracticalwedding

  • I would caution the LW not to assume too hard that the friends are all lying by saying they can’t afford to attend. “Can’t afford” can mean different things to different people, but that doesn’t make it untrue, and just because someone might have a decent income, doesn’t mean their cash is therefore free to spend as you want them to.

    For some people, “can’t afford” can mean “I literally cannot pay the rent if I do this thing”. For others, it might mean “I have a Big Expensive Event of my own to plan (my own wedding) and we’re having to budget really strictly to make it happen – this thing you want is just more than we can set aside in the time we have”. Or it could mean “We’ve got plenty of income, but right now it is all going on loan repayments,paying off debt, our kid’s dental care and the fact that my younger sibling is in dire straits and we’re helping financially support them while they get back on their feet”. Or perhaps “I budgeted for Other Friend’s expensive stag do, but I cannot afford to do two similarly expensive events in such a short time-frame and I’m already committed to the other one”. It could also mean “In the time-frame you’ve given, I COULD afford it if I gave up all my discretionary spending from now until the date, but that’s a bigger sacrifice than I’m willing to make”.

    Now, of course all of this will depend on what precisely you mean by your friends being well-off, and what you mean by an expensive event. Because there’s a big difference between say, a £1000 event for someone earning £30k (my minimum level for “my friends aren’t short of cash”) and someone on £100k. Possibly your spouse-to-be’s friends are wealthy enough to blow hundreds on a night out just for the fun of it, and are being stingy about this for reasons unknown. But either way, you’re not going to be able to force them to come to this. And even if you could, would your fiancé really want to spend his stag do listening to his friends complain about how much it was costing them?

    *I say all this as someone who, until very recently, had never earned much more than minimum wage, and who has only just reached the income level of “holy crap I can afford to have a discretionary spending budget now”, so I promise you I’m not coming at this from the perspective of a wealthy person who claims they aren’t wealthy because *they still have to save up for things like new cars and shit*.

  • StevenPortland

    The New York Times just ran an article titled “The Party’s Over … Over My Budget, That Is” that talks about expenses with weddings and sometimes needing to say no.

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