My Friend Is Angry That I Won’t Buy a $15K Bridesmaid Dress

NOW WITH AN UPDATE!

Q: I have been asked to be a bridesmaid by a longtime (over fifteen years) and very dear friend. This woman is the sister I never had, and we’re closer to each other than we are to many of our own family members. I happily said yes without realizing that her tastes and budget far, far exceed mine.

She is marrying into a great deal of money, and she’s having a huge, expensive wedding. That’s fine. The problem is that the dresses she selected for her bridesmaids START at $7,000. That’s right—$7,000 is the price of the cheapest of her choices, and that does NOT include alterations, shoes, jewelry, hair, makeup, etc. The dress that she favors comes in at $15,000 before alterations.

She did not give us any kind of warning that the dresses she is considering are so expensive. I’m working, but spending $7,000 plus on a dress that I will wear for less than one day (not even) and then never wear it again (it is beautiful, but it is bridal) is an expense I cannot justify. And if she opts for her favorite, at $15,000 before alterations…

I know that being a member of the wedding party is expensive. When she announced her engagement and when she asked me to be a bridesmaid, I immediately started trying to save, but I didn’t think that being part of her wedding would be this expensive. I am also hurt that she didn’t give me a heads-up but waited until we were at the salon and looking at her choices. I pulled her aside and told her that I would have to back out of being a bridesmaid, and I told her WHY (that I cannot afford the dress she chose, nor the shoes, the accessories, alterations, and more). I told her that I would be happy to participate in another way (perhaps do a reading), and if that wasn’t possible, then I would be content to be a guest. She was very, very upset with me, told me that I couldn’t back out, etc. The wedding is still a year from now, so I would think there is time for her to ask someone else to be a bridesmaid.

Since then, I’ve called her and emailed her and she hasn’t responded. I finally wrote her a long letter, explaining that I valued her as a person and our friendship, and that I very much wanted to be a part of her wedding, but that unfortunately a $15,000 dress and even a $7,000 dress is completely out of my budget. I have a job but after rent, insurance, loans, and other expenses, I sometimes have to skip meals in order to save even a little for emergencies.

The thing is, she grew up like me—working class poor and didn’t have much. Her fiancé is a great guy and I’m truly happy for her, but I’m hurt that she did not ask me what I could afford to spend on a bridesmaid dress, shoes, and accessories. I have enough debt as it is, and I can’t and won’t spend $20,000 just on the bridesmaid accoutrements. I’d have to borrow to do it.

But now she’s mad at me and sent me a letter in return telling me how hurt she was that I backed out, that obviously I don’t value her or our long friendship because if I did, I would be there for her wedding. She said that none of the other bridesmaids nor the maid of honor backed out (maid of honor is her sister; other bridesmaids are her fiancé’s sisters, and her fiancé’s family is paying for their dresses, etc.) so that tells her that I don’t care about her. She said that I don’t deserve her and she is never talking to me again.

Have you ever heard of anything like this? Are brides now so unreasonable that they don’t take their bridesmaid’s budgets into account when selecting dresses? Should I have told her my limits re: the cost of the dress? She also told me that I was not welcome at her wedding. I am mourning the end of a fifteen-plus-year friendship, and am hurt and bewildered.

—Unhappy ex-bridesmaid and blacklisted ex-friend

A: Dear UEABE,

Most couples honestly don’t ask their bridal party about their budget before picking out dresses or tuxes or whatever else. But most couples don’t pick a $15,000 dress, holy crap.

It’d be awfully nice for her to consider her bridal party’s financial situation (I imagine most of the readers here tried to), but at the end of the day, your budget is your own personal responsibility, not hers. It’s your obligation to keep your finances in check and be vocal if some obligation is stretching you too thin. Which is exactly what you did! You were right, is what I’m saying here. Telling her you couldn’t afford it and stepping down were the entirely right decisions.

Everyone is in a different financial situation. But fifteen grand is… a lot. Even considering the fact that we’re not all coming from the same place financially, that’s a lot of money.

It was your choice to spend that lump of cash or opt out, and she had a choice in how she responded to the news. She decided to take it personally, and frankly, I don’t know what you could’ve done to avoid that. It sucks. It’s just not your fault. You couldn’t have foreseen a $15,000 dress, and you couldn’t just dig in the couch to find that money once it was proposed. Her hurt feelings suck, but they’re unfounded and not your responsibility.

You say your friend had the same financial background as you before meeting this guy, but I’m wondering if she just cannot relate to “not being able to afford it.” Even folks who consider themselves on the same financial page are usually in very different places. In trying very hard (so very hard) to give the benefit of the doubt here, I’m thinking maybe she just cannot fathom how you can’t afford this dress, and assumes that means you’re prioritizing other things above her wedding (which you are—rent and food and electricity). But on the other, wide-eyed judgey hand—this girl has lost her mind. Fifteen thousand dollars for a dress? That’s crazy talk, and her accusatory response was out of line. Maybe after the wedding is over, she’ll find her common sense again. But till then, you’ve done what you can, and I would try not to give it another blessed thought.

THE TWO YEARS LATER UPDATE:

Hello Liz,

Nice to hear from you. Your advice, and those of the readers, helped confirm my decision, so I thank you for publishing my letter and for answering my question.

I did not buy the dress; she ultimately decided on the $15,000 dress (with considerable pressure/arm-twisting from her MIL-to-be), which was waaaay out of my budget for a bridesmaid dress. I’m told the costs were closer to $20,000 for the bridesmaid dresses when alterations, accessories, and shoes were included.

As the only non-family member of the original wedding party, her in-laws did not offer to pay for my dress, so I bowed out. The bride pitched a fit, told me that I was “uninvited” to her wedding since I obviously didn’t love her, and that was that. She had her big, bashy royal wedding, and I stayed home.

She has not called me, messaged me, or written to me. I gave her time, thinking that after the wedding insanity and hoopla died down she would come to her senses. I sent her a card several months after her wedding, telling her that I was sorry that I could not afford to be part of her, that we were friends for a long time, and that I wished her well. The card was returned to me with her handwriting on it, telling me that she could never forgive me and to stay out of her life, so that’s what I’ve done.

I do miss her and her friendship, but I miss the old her, the person I grew up with and who was kind, funny, caring. I don’t miss the Bride she turned into, and have decided that if she has come so far that she forgot her old life and what it was like to grow up working class poor and to have work for a living and holds it against me, then she’s not the person I thought she was. I suppose that marrying into that kind and amount of money and wealth (her husband’s family own too many McMansions to count, racehorses, businesses, and more, so it isn’t just a matter of someone having a great job and earning lots of money–there’s a great deal of inherited wealth, the kind that isn’t taxed and/or qualifies for all kinds of tax shelters and loopholes). It is a completely different lifestyle and worldview. And that’s fine, but I have no place in it because I don’t come from inherited wealth and could never work enough to even earn what they spend on trifles. It is a difference of the .0001% vs. everyone else.

Weddings have become expensive enough as it is, even for ordinary couples. I guess I’m more pragmatic—even if I had had the $15K, I couldn’t justify spending it on a dress that I would wear for not even one day. That kind of money could pay down some debt (hello student loans), set aside some for emergencies (hello expensive car repairs and medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance), or just trying to put some aside for future retirement (I’ll be working until they plant me).

Keep up the good work, and help keep the bridal insanity down!

Best,

MB

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This post originally ran (Sans Update) on APW in November 2015.

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  • Amy March

    What’s everyone’s personal “lolz what you’re obvi kidding” price point for a bridesmaid dress? Do you think your friends know that?

    Mine is anything 300 or over. Just why? I think most of my friends wouldn’t go there.

    • emilyg25

      My comment to this was going to be, “$300 is an expensive bridesmaid dress. $15,000 is a cheap car.”

      • Sarah E

        Yeah, I’d really rather have the used Subaru than the gown in my closet for the next ten years.

    • InTheBurbs

      Mine is $250 or over – because most of the time you’re going to need alterations – and those get expensive fast.

      • Jane

        Ditto. And it’s that high only because I think most of the friends I’m close enough to that I’d imagine them asking me to be a part of their wedding know that I could probably afford something like that. But a lot of my friends / siblings couldn’t.
        I can’t imagine my little sister pulling together $250 for a dress and I would really hope none of her friends would put that on her all of a sudden.

    • Meredith

      Yeah, $300 would be, “damn that’s more than I’d normally spend on a dress, but ok, I guess that’s do able for this one time..”

    • Laura C

      I haven’t been a bridesmaid enough to really know, but my gut feeling is that at $250 I’d start to gripe to myself and my nearest and dearest and at $400 I’d be like “but no, really, that’s a joke, right?”

      I’ve had more moments like that with hotels for weddings. “Oh, great, we have the privilege of staying in the inn the wedding will be at … for how much per night, now?” “Oh, you’re getting married in a town where the choice is between total fleabag motels or a resort that’s more than I paid on my honeymoon? Lovely!”

      • sofar

        For REAL on the hotels. Also, I find myself drawing the line at distance from airport. “Oh great, we have the privilege of attending your wedding on a charming farm that’s a 4-hour drive from the nearest major airport? Please accept my regrets and this nice gift!”

      • Totch

        This is my line too. Anything under $150 is a steal, $150-250 is the cost of doing business, $250-350 is something I’d gripe to my husband about, but anything closer to 400 and I’d absolutely say something.

    • Violet

      My number is affected by whether or not I can wear the dress again, and how hot I look in it. ; )

      • rg223

        I’ve NEVER been able to wear a dress again. My friends choose things that scream ‘bridesmaid’ to me, and I feel like everyone in my circle picks one of two colors for their ‘maids and I can’t/won’t risk matching. If you did wear again, where did you get the dress? Off the rack?

        • Violet

          Last year my friend let us pick, and I got a sheath dress in blush from BHLDN that I have been able to get use out of.

          • rg223

            Yeah BHLDN is like, the best option for re-wearing I can think of. Might make the initial price worth it!

          • Violet

            Other than there and maybe picking completely whatever you want from a department store (like Meredith’s Nordstrom example), it is hard. And then, once you’re picking your own, you can control the price too, so the point almost becomes moot. Hard agree with emilyg25 on not being able to re-wear long dresses (my life isn’t fancy enough), but so far, no friend has asked for long dresses.

          • sofar

            Depends on the long dress, I guess! My hobby leaves me with very ugly bruising on my legs, so I often wear long, flowy wedding dresses to weddings as a guest. I’d take this one (https://www.modcloth.com/shop/sale/all-around-lovely-maxi-dress-in-blush/151779.html?dwvar_151779_color=CORAL&breadcrumb=maxi_dresses_117#start=29) over a short David’s Bridal “Pool”-colored rouched-to-hell dress any day.

            In fact, the ONLY bridesmaid dress I’ve re-worn is a maxi.

            But yeah, a long evening gown with sequins? No way would that get re-worn again.

          • Violet

            Oh true, I hadn’t even considered less formal maxi dresses. I don’t really wear those in my regular life, but that’s a good point; many people do!

          • Totch

            I’m doing the opposite at the moment! I’m in my first wedding with floor length dresses. Even if I had more occasions where floor length dresses worked, they’re still really not my style.

            So I ended up picking a full-on floor length sequin gown. I just feel like, if it’s something I’m almost never gonna be able to wear, I might as well go. for. it. If I like it I’ll probably shorten it to be able to wear it more often, but if not at least for one night I looked like a disco ball.

          • Ashley Weckbacher

            Haha that’s exactly the very expensive dress my bridesmaid chose for themselves. Floor length sequins: totally versatile in our world

          • Jan

            Ohh link? My friend is letting us choose any dress in blush and I was thinking about getting something from BHLDN that I could potentially re-wear.

          • Violet

            It was this one: https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/harper-dress, but it looks like it’s basically sold out now. : (

        • Meredith

          For my sister’s wedding we wore cocktail dresses from Nordstom. Horray for actually wearing them again! They were navy and black stripped, and really fun.

        • emilyg25

          Even if they don’t choose a specific dress, I just don’t have much occasion to wear a party dress, especially if it’s long.

          • rg223

            Yeah, that is definitely true – I’m mostly trying to wear the dresses to other weddings, and failing. But even if it’s a different event, like a work thing… still don’t want to look like a bridesmaid.

          • Tera

            This is why I’ve never been a fan of long bridesmaid dresses. Bc they will FOREVER scream “bridesmaid.” I have a short BM dress from a December wedding that I still wear for holiday parties. And my MOH has worn her (short) dress again!

        • suchbrightlights

          Nor have I, but that wasn’t my friends’ fault. The long chiffon gown became the wrong size after I lost weight (or it would have been appropriate to wear to summer weddings as a guest) and the short chiffon dress would have been a great summer dress if it had been in a better color for me. The other bridesmaids have continued to get mileage out of theirs.

          We did not end up going this route (in part because my sister, who is my MOH, voted against it) but to me this is an excellent justification for picking navy or black dresses of any style. Almost any woman can get another wear out of a LBD.

          • Jenny

            Yep, my childhood best friend send all her bridesmaids on “Mission possible: to find a bridesmaids dress that you can wear again” Requirements were knee-tea length black dress that makes you feel like a million dollars, preferably 2 million. I went to Macy’s I think (or another dept. store). I still have that dress and it remains the only bridesmaid dress I’ve ever worn again (many many many times).

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          I had a long Alfred Angelo that I planned to cut off at the knees and turn into a cocktail dress after the wedding, but the seamstress initially took it in too far to zipper, then let it back out juuuuust enough to squeeze into it. A friend took me into the bathroom and unzipped the dress in the middle of the reception just so I could take full breaths for about 10 minutes. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to reusing a bridesmaid dress.

        • The bridesmaids dresses from my wedding have been worn again, both by friends and one sister. The other sister decided the dress was way too long and she would never wear something that length (it was a few inches above the knee but she was in high school) and so I have commandeered that dress and worn it to most of the summer weddings I have attended since. It was a $50 modcloth dress though, not a bridesmaid-specific dress.

        • Haven’t personally re-worn a bridesmaid dress, but for my wedding, which was a casual, morning affair, we did a short, lace, teal dress from Modcloth that I’ve seen both members of my bridal party re-wearing on multiple occasions.

        • Liz

          I was a groomswoman for a wedding where all the female-identified wedding party wore dresses from this store: http://www.kimeradesign.com/ The bride’s sister and MOH chose a fabric (deep red raw silk, which looked good on all of us, phew) and we could choose any of a handful of styles. I have worn mine as a cocktail dress on many occasions. Although I didn’t have a bridal party myself and didn’t coordinate outfits for my chuppah-bearers, the whole experience made me a big fan of the “variations on a theme” approach to wedding parties.

          • Anna

            Late to the thread, but my sister got her prom dress from them! I asked my bridesmaids to pick dresses in a particular range of purples, which her prom dress totally would’ve fit, but it was long and dramatic and the other two bridesmaids picked short dresses so she got a different dress. But I did kind of want to give her another excuse to wear it because it’s lovely :-)

      • NolaJael

        I wore one again as part of a Mardi Gras costume, so that’s something.

        • Sara

          I wore one for a masquerade party. The bride saw the pics online and complimented the dress and I had to remind her it was from her wedding. It was a few years after, but still. lol

      • Zoya

        Zackly.

    • Cdn icecube

      As a student, anything over $200 is really pushing it for me. If someone said $400 i’d probably laugh in their face. Especially as I’d probably have to get a ton of alterations because I’m nearly 6 feet.

      • emmers

        Yea, a few years ago, I had just started working and a friend had a $200 dress for us to buy. I did it, but was definitely internally grumpy. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal now, but at the time it really was.

      • Jan

        The most I’ve ever had to spend on a dress was $215 but because of my weird body it cost me an additional $150 for alterations. I was so pissed.

      • Lisa

        Yeah, I paid $275 for a dress that was in a terrible color (it looks like I’m wearing my skin as a dress), AND part of that cost was that I had to pay extra $$ to buy the “extra long” version of the gown. That was pretty painful because unless I try to dye it, I knew from the beginning I’d never wear the dress again.

        • Cdn icecube

          I hate dresses like those. I LOVE the look of the nude/millennial pink thing that everyone is wearing but with my colouring i just look ill.

          • Lisa

            Yup. The MOH also insisted we needed to wear the color to the bachelorette party so we’d all match, which resulted in me having TWO flesh-colored items that I’d never wear again. I picked up a cheap $10 shirt at H&M and called it a day.

          • Courtkay

            Oh god, I replied before reading this. No no no no no no. By saying yes to bridesmaiding, I have signed up for looking less than my best on one day. ONE DAY.

          • Jan

            This just makes me think of that 30 Rock scene where Liz thanks Jack for pointing out that wearing khakis and a nude turtleneck makes her look like a condom.

        • Courtkay

          Can’t stop laughing at “it looks like I’m wearing my skin as a dress.” I mean, really, whyyyyy? This color looks good on precisely two people.

          • Lisa

            This color looks good on precisely two people.

            And none of them were in the wedding party! I love my friend (clearly), but her colors were blush and champagne, which is right up there with blush and bashful. Nobody was going to come out of this well.

            (She did tell us our nails should just be pink so I went with hot Barbie pink to add some life into my ensemble.)

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            I have never, ever noticed a bridesmaid’s fingernails. I have been in weddings were we were told under no uncertain terms that they could only be painted one of 3 colors, nothing else, and at the time it seemed super weird that it was even mentioned. I just…didn’t paint mine. Nobody said a damned thing.

          • laddibugg

            I’m ok with polish restrictions (as in, if you wear polish, please wear this or that color). It’s polish and if you hate it you can easily take it off after the big day. Demanding someone wear polish or use nail enhancements is out of the question.

          • Andi

            When my sister got married, she treated everyone in the wedding party to manicures and pedicures. No restrictions on nail color, she just thought it would be fun. :)

        • Colleen

          I had to wear a (my) skin-colored dress once. It also had inverted pleats at the waistline, a bow above the butt, and was basically backless. To top it all off, we had to order it from a store in Arizona, even though no one (bride included) lived in Arizona. Soooo… $250 dress, $80 specialty bra, and $100 in alterations when the size I ordered was completely wrong (even after having had measurements taken) and I was feeling pretty beat up, financially and emotionally. That dress got handed off to the local prom dress donation project faster than I could say “I’d love to be a bridesmaid!”

      • Aubry

        I feel that. 6’1″, super hour glass and pretty fit but with big hips does not equal off the rack. For my one friend’s wedding I actually found a dress that fit OK (ie super stretchy and almost long enough) for about $150 and just bought it then and there. Didn’t think till afterwards I’m wearing a strapless dress to a catholic wedding (with tattoos and boobs out lol) but it was fine.

    • rg223

      Same – $300 or over. The most I’ve paid was $250 (luckily did not need alterations) and I definitely thought: “This is the high end of a reasonable ask.”

    • NolaJael

      Honestly, I’m a professional in my 30s making far more than the median income in my area, but I’d be grumpy at anything over $150. The reason is that it’s just ONE expense of many. I have been to exactly one wedding in the last four years that didn’t cost me at least $1500 — because of airfare, boarding pets, car rental, shoes, contributing to a shower, etc. Some of these I was in and some of them I was just a guest, but it still costs me thousands of dollars to just show up. Please don’t add to that unnecessarily.

      • emilyg25

        Same. I just don’t want to spend much on a dress I’m likely to only wear once.

      • Sarah E

        Agreed. I don’t think I’ve ever paid three digits for any piece of attire, ever. Not prom gowns, not well-made professional wear, not my winter coat. So going over $100 is already going to be stretching my financial comfort, as at any given point, I’m probably saving for something else: a couch, a car, a new mattress, whatever fill-in-the-blank I’ve been eyeing on Pinterest for months.

        • NolaJael

          Exactly. This is probably a know-your-people thing. If they are into fashion and looking trendy and regularly spend lots of money on clothes, maybe this is a fun opportunity.

          I think my cousins are this way. They hang out with their never-left-home friend group (so no travel issues), in a low cost of living area and with little student debt from going to state schools. So this may be an fun splurge for twenty-somethings who have cash that’s burning holes in their pockets. But I’m not that person.

          • Totch

            I’m the exact candidate for this (the fashion part, not the never left home part). I’m in a wedding right now with a pick-your-dress-in-x-color scheme, and the bride and I talked about a bunch of options. She specifically pointed out a $75 dress that I thought was fine, but knew I wouldn’t wear again. The day I ordered it, we found a totally gorgeous full on sequined monstrosity for $225. I cancelled the first dress and happily splurged on the other, because the joy of it is worth the increase in price for me. Clothes and fashion are worth it to me. But, you know, it’s super cool that that was my choice.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            Also, who doesn’t want a dress that can be described as a gorgeous sequined monstrosity?

    • Laura

      $250. Anything beyond that is just not happening, especially if I’m expected to pay for shoes, accessories, hair, etc. Nope.

    • Jan

      It depends on the wedding (is travel involved, will I also be expected to contribute to a shower and bachelorette, are hair/makeup/nails expected day-of, etc). It also makes a difference if they ask me ahead of time what I’m comfortable with. I’m much more okay with dropping $250 for a dress if the bride seems to acknowledge that that’s pretty steep for our friend group, than if she were to spring it on me in the salon.

    • Mine is probably also around $300 for “are you kidding” … Anything over $150 and I’m stressy, but that has more to do with my personal finances than what I think is “objectively” too high.

    • Jessica

      The most expensive dress I’ve purchased without a wedding involved was $120. For my brother’s wedding I dropped $160 for the dress and $80 for shoes. If you are asking me to spend more than $200 on a dress I will not wear again, I will be so pissed. Above $300? No chance.

    • Hmm… I would start complaining hard (although probably not to them) around $150 and be very annoyed at $200 and would probably comment on it to the people planning. Definitely flat out would not pay over $250. I also have never bought shoes that cost more than $50 and those were my nice winter boots, so expensive shoes would be even quicker to get a complaint out of me–also though because if you are making me wear heels, you better not also be expecting me to walk in any graceful manner because I am not a heel-wearer.

    • Katharine Parker

      $300 also seems like the limit to me. I still wouldn’t love $300, but based on looking at dresses for my bridesmaids, $250-300 is a price point that a lot of dresses are around (Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Yoo, Katie May, Watters, etc.).

      I also spend more money on clothes than it sounds like many people in this thread do, though.

      • Katharine Parker

        Also, I feel like there isn’t anything immoral or wrong about spending money on clothes, although people sometimes take that attitude. The rudeness comes when people expect their friends to spend more than they can afford to be in their wedding without compassion or consideration. I bought my bridesmaids’ dresses and included it as part of my wedding budget for this reason–I didn’t expect everyone to have the same $300 budget that I was planning around.

        • Jane

          This is also why I think mismatched dresses can be such a good thing – so your friends who enjoy a good excuse to spend more money on a fancy dress can and those who don’t want to or can’t afford to don’t have to. A few of my bridesmaids picked dresses at around the $175 mark. But the other four spent less than $10″ and one of them even scored an adorable dress for $40 on Poshmark. There was some difference in fabric quality / dress fanciness but not enough for anyone to care. . .
          Meanwhile the groomsmen all rented identical suits because it was easier and cheaper than buying matching or mismatched suits. They definitely grumbled a little about paying around $100 (maybe more – wasn’t my task) for something they would only wear once, but they were also the ones who decided they wanted to be all matching.

          • Lisa

            Or you can do a matching component and let the bridesmaids choose the rest. I was in a wedding where we bought matching skirts off Etsy (~$70), and then we were allowed to pick any ivory top to match it. Some women went all out ($250), but my mom picked up a $3 top from a resale shop that worked perfectly for me.

      • NolaJael

        Yeah, I said this below but if your friends are ‘clothes people’ then I feel like it’s different. My monthly clothing budget is literally 1/4 of my sister’s and we make about the same income. We just have different priorities.

      • Engaged Chicago

        Agree. I’ve had several friends request in the $250-$275 range. I gave my gals the choice to pick their own and many picked between $200-$300 even though they could have rent the runway. That’s just the market so I’m impressed by all the folks who have never spent above $150. I have fortunately bought Jenny Yoo or BHLDN bridesmaid dresses used (usually worn once by some former bridesmaid) for that reason.

        • Anneke Oosterink

          I think many people limit themselves by only looking at bridesmaids’ dresses, rather than just dresses. I can find many pretty dresses that are under 50$ that would work just fine as a bridesmaid’s dress. And sometimes I see dresses that are over 200$ and look like someone went to a 90s prom and stole a dress.

    • Abs

      I’d probably say anything over $300 would be shocking in my friend group. $200 would probably raise eyebrows.

      For me, personally, it’s less about the cost of the dress and more about the overall cost of attending–it’s all the same to me if my money is going to a plane flight or a dress I’ll never wear again.

    • sofar

      $300 is my hard line. Anything over is “wtf…no” territory. Between $200 and $300, I’d be annoyed and give less of a gift.

    • JC

      $300 would be my limit if I was given the choice to pick out my own dress and no one else was aware of the price tag. (That’s actually WAY more than I would probably spend, but it gives me room to go look at dresses that are nicer than I would wear as a guest.) If the specific dress was picked for me and it was over $150, I’d be ok paying that but I’d start asking what other expenses I’m going to be asked to cover as well.

    • suchbrightlights

      I will not buy for myself a dress that costs over $250*. My actual wedding dress cost $310 before alterations. So, $250 is my line if picking out myself; for a friend, I raise eyebrows at $150 and $200 would be my hard line.

      My bridesmaids paid $58 for their dresses from Lulus.

      * My mother purchased me a dress for my Bat Mitzvah that was over this figure, which I only remember because I HATED that dress and she commented that it had cost more than her wedding dress. My 13-year-old self tried to call out that for such a figure I ought to at least like it, but not one single part of that affair was for me, so onward we go.

      • Totch

        This is an interesting metric, and I keep thinking about it because I have rarely spent as much on dresses for myself as I have on bridesmaid dresses. But I think maybe that means I should be a little kinder to myself when it comes to wardrobe?

    • Jenny

      If it’s a dress I get no say in, my price point would be 100is+alterations. If I’m getting to choose either cut or color, probably 150ish. Over that I would expect the bride to discuss it and have some rationale, and offer to pay some of the costs. But I honestly can’t think of any any dresses I own that are more than 150 with the exception of my wedding dress.

    • Sara

      I had a hard time when a friend wanted a $200 dress. I can’t even imagine being asked to buy a 15k one. I don’t even have that kind of limit on my credit card.

    • Her Lindsayship

      I’ve been a bridesmaid twice and I think I paid less than or around $100 for each of those dresses, and my bridesmaids paid around the same for theirs. This is pretty much the expectation in my family. But I wouldn’t be mad about paying up to $200. From $200-300 it would depend on whether I liked the dress. Above $300 and I’m with you – just why?

      $15k is almost as much as we paid for our entire wedding, and I’m not tryna budget shame anyone because if we were rich I’d probably have spent more, but for a bridesmaid’s dress???

    • laddibugg

      MOST of my friends wouldn’t go there but I have some that would, but I already know that.

    • KitBee

      It looks like I’m on the low-cost end of things, but $150 is about the top of my “reasonableness” limit. Anything more expensive, and I’d be grumbling internally. Over $200, I’d probably start (kindly, gently) pushing back a little bit.

    • RNLindsay

      Yeah 300 is my limit too. I got into a little bit of a tiff with my BFF about this once because in one conversation she was complaining about not being able to pay her student loans… and then sent me a link to the $450 bridesmaid dress she wanted us to wear. We were both getting married the same year and I told her that I’m aware of her finances and would never ask her to spend that much on a dress, so I don’t think it’s fair that she would ask me to either. We didn’t talk for a couple of days but eventually she came around.

    • AmandaBee

      Personally? I hate spending money on one-time use things, so I’d probably be grumpy about anything over $150. At $300 I’d starting thinking of bowing out, because I don’t even have shoes that nice.

      I also realize that I’m cheap and it’s probably a good thing I’ve only ever had to be in one wedding, for which the bride chose a $30 sheath dress from Target that I totally wore again.

    • Ella

      Maybe this is my naivety in never having been a bridesmaid, but I would be grumpy about having to spend any money on something I didn’t choose. I don’t know if this is a cultural thing I’ve absorbed by osmosis or just my personal issue, but I don’t think you can ask people to pay for something for *your* wedding. It’s not so much about the money – I’d be happy to spend $300 on a(n ethically made/vintage) dress I got to pick, in a colour scheme/style that you suggested – but the outrage of being told “I bought you this, you owe me $x.”

      • Amy March

        Are you in the US? I gather in the U.K. brides pay for the Bridesmaid dresses, but in the US the custom is that brides get to choose and bridesmaids pay, so being outraged would be a bit much.

        • Ella

          Oh, I’m in Australia. I think our culture is more closely aligned with British than American so that’s probably accurate. I guess if it was the custom, then I wouldn’t be outraged. It would make me hesitate before saying yes to being a bridesmaid though… Is it acceptable to ask for a budget before you agree to that? Even though 15k is ridiculous to the extreme, I’m guessing less-extreme versions of this issue happen not infrequently?

          • Colleen

            The less-extreme version happens all. the. time. in the US. Here, the traditionally accepted course of action is that the bride chooses the dress and her attendants buy it, wear it, and pretend to love it, all the while complaining to their friends (or even each other) about it. Then it hangs in the back of a closet for years, gets donated to a charitable organization, or becomes the next year’s Halloween costume. We often do this with a pasted-on smile because it’s the cost of being a bridesmaid and we love our friend/family member. In my personal experience, the dress outlay has maxed out at about $250. Of course, there are shoes and undergarments and jewelry and hairdos and more…Any and all of which bridesmaids may also have no say in choosing. Any and all of which bridemaids may also be expected to pay for. I’m annoyed and exhausted just thinking about it!

          • Ella

            Oof! -_-

          • cmoorecole

            I think this is a 21st century change in culture. I’m 64, grew up and still live in Oregon and didn’t know anyone who expected bridesmaids to pay for their dresses. In 1979, my ex and I opted for a courthouse wedding with no bridesmaids, because it seemed like a stupid way to spend his hard earned money (my father was disabled and retired on a tight budget and his parents…forget it). My own dress was a $20 designer piece from a vintage shop. It wasn’t a wedding dress either. When I was 18, my SIL chose handmade linen dresses made by the MOB (I made my own) and MOB paid for everything. Later, I cut it off at the knees and wore it to work. It was that generic.

          • Colleen

            I agree that there could be a generational factor, but I think it’s more about people’s personal tastes and the things they value vs. age or century. My mother’s attendants, at both weddings – one in ’73 and one in ’86 – paid for their dresses, which were of my mother’s choice. I was in weddings in the 90s where the same was expected/done. But, when I got married recently I only had one attendant, my sister, and she picked her dress. I had no influence on her choice at all, because I wanted her to be comfortable and feel beautiful (and be able to wear it again, should she so choose). Anything else didn’t matter to me. On the flip side, I was an attendant, also very recently, where the 8 attendants wore matching $250 dresses because that’s what the bride wanted for her wedding. Different strokes for different folks.

          • cmoorecole

            perhaps it is more of a socio-economic factor. I dunno. My SIL’s family was wealthy enough to cover the cost and not ignorant to the reality of growing up with less.

    • Ashley Weckbacher

      I had set a limit for myself — we weren’t going to ask bridesmaids to pay more than $150. Husband and I talked about it and agreed that if I fell in love (or the bridesmaids fell in love) with something over that limit, we’d find it in the budget somewhere.

      My bridesmaids fell in love with a $300 gown. I told them we could find something cheaper, or that we would cover half the cost. I was insistent, and not sad about it. I wanted them wear something they loved and felt beautiful in and we weren’t scrimping elsewhere…

      Long story short, all three of them were equally insistent that they were buying their dresses. I spoke to all of them separately to take the peer pressure off, but to no avail. I almost burst into tears in the salon, and haven’t quite shaken the guilt.

      • Amy March

        Why guilt? You did nothing wrong. Let it go.

    • Leah

      This question made me realize that I spent less than half as much on my own wedding dress ($120) as I did on the one matching bridesmaid dress I wore 20 years earlier ($300? More? I don’t remember, partially because I was a poor grad student so my parents helped pay for it). For a similarly close friend now I’d probably flinch at >$300.

      Friends deserve our love and attention and a little leeway, but at $1000 I would have been “Bye Felicia”ing this friend, let alone $7,000 or $15,000. No one who grew up un-rich should even Question the letter-writer’s response.

  • Alison Lysakowski

    Agreed.

  • Kat

    I know this is an old post but I NEED to see pictures of this $1500 dress.

    • CMT

      You forgot a zero!

      • Kat

        Probably because my brain was trying to protect me from the reality of the real cost.

    • Kat

      Ok I did some research. I thought to myself, “Self, who would have the most expensive bridesmaid dress of all time. Who is the most famous bridesmaid I can imagine? What is the most extravagant wedding in recent history?”

      Pippa Middleton’s custom made Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown for the wedding of her sister, the FUTURE QUEEN OF ENGLAND, cost approximately $20,000.

      So, bride…you’re telling me you’re ALMOST as important as the future Queen?
      I don’t think so.

      • emilyg25

        I don’t think it’s exactly a bridesmaid dress like Davids Bridal or whatever. I think it’s a designer gown that you could wear to a gala or something.

        • Kat

          Yeah that doesn’t make it less insane though…

    • Violet

      The OP had said in the comments of the original run of this question that the dresses for the bridesmaids were essentially wedding dresses, customized.

      • CMT

        Hey, so if the bridesmaid is unmarried she’s already got a dress for her own possible future wedding!

        • jem

          Yeah if she can figure out how to dye it back to white (or some other color) from the Midnight Melon shade her friend picked

          • ART

            Hmm, how many packages of RIT color remover…

      • Lisa

        Do you remember what the OP’s name was? I want to go back through the original comments for her responses.

        • Violet

          She posted under the name “marybeth.”

          • Lisa

            The whole thing is even sadder with the extra details she provided. :(

          • Violet

            I know, it broke my heart. Especially since I was definitely someone who originally thought, “This cannot be real.” Not because of the price of the dress per se, but because of how callous the bride was.

    • I have spent sleepless nights wondering what this dress looks like.

  • emilyg25

    Your friend is an asshole. Hopefully after the wedding, she’ll regain her senses and apologize, but I’m sorry she turned out not to be the person you thought she was.

    • Amanda L.

      This is such a clear indicator of who she is now. I’m sure it’s sad, but if someone was 1) insisting that she pay what a car costs for a dress and 2) not understanding why this wasn’t feasible and interpreting it as a personal attack, this is not a person to keep in her life.

  • Jan

    So rude of LW to put her good friend and apparent secret bride, Gwyneth Paltrow, on blast like this.

    (This is literally the only reasonable assumption here, right?)

    • laddibugg

      IDK, I see Gwyneth as the type of rich person who is indeed oblivious to the ‘struggles’ of poor folks but not outright mean. Like, she might not understand why you can’t afford a $1k dinner plate, but isn’t nasty about it. Those kind of rich folks can be difficult to work with but I don’t think they are bad people. The letter writer’s friend sounds like bad people after the update.

  • kazeegeyser

    Sorry, but this letter can’t possibly be real. I can’t imagine a reality where someone would expect her bridesmaids to purchase a $7,000 dress and not offer to help pay. I’ve never spent that much money on anything physical.

    • Amy March

      According to the letter writer, who wrote in with an update last time, it is real. They were custom designer gowns.

      • kazeegeyser

        I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT PEOPLE CAN BE THOUGHTLESS MONSTERS

        • sofar

          I am DYING to hear the bride’s side. Like, what kind of Olympic-level cluelessness would she use to justify her actions? I want to see it so bad!

          The ONLY thing I can think of is based on some very wealthy people I knew in college. A friend was a bridesmaid in one of their weddings, and the bride picked custom dresses on Etsy that would total about $900. When my friend balked, bride said, “Well, you can just put it on a credit card with no interest the first year and pay, like, $75 a month!”

          …. maybe that’s what this bride was thinking? Like, “Just put it on the credit card!”

          • Spot

            My money (hah!) is on a tsunami of insecurity in the flavor of “If my old friend can’t keep up with my new standard of living, my in-laws will be proven right about me still being poor trash. I will be personally humiliated on my wedding day and for the rest of my married life. My old friend is being cruel and selfish for doing this to me.”

            Per the update, sounds like that kind of insecurity is going to stay with her for a long, long time.

          • sofar

            Oooh, you may be right.

            And, in a way, I feel kind of bad for the bride. Emotional immaturity plus pressure from in-laws she really wants to fit in with could be a factor here. Glad LW has distanced herself from that mess, though. And SO GLAD, she didn’t go along with the $15k dress!

          • Violet

            That would mean she’d have to have a 15K credit limit for this one item!

          • ART

            Even if mine were that high, pretty sure (hope?) my bank would decline such a purchase on the grounds of “this card must be stolen, she never spends more than $150 at a time on clothes!”

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        What was the update? What happened??

    • Abs

      The amounts of money seem really extreme to me too, but there may be a cultural context that we’re missing. We also don’t know the letter writer’s exact circumstances–she can’t afford the dress, but she may not appear from the outside as someone with way less money than the bride. The bride is clearly being horrible here, but either she is literally insane, or there is some context that would lead her (however wrongly) to believe that the letter writer was actually able to afford this.

      Of course, even given that, it still wouldn’t be okay to treat someone like this after they *told* you that they couldn’t afford to be in your wedding. It would just be more believable.

      • Zoya

        As I recall, in the comments on the original letter the writer clarified that the friend’s in-laws had taken over the wedding, and the bridesmaids’ dresses were literally the only thing where the friend had 100 percent say (she was even overruled about her own wedding dress). Plus, let’s face it, the wedding-industrial complex is kind of designed to swallow women alive. So I could see someone in that situation completely losing sight of anything beyond her own feelings of being steamrolled/overwhelmed/insecure in this wealthy family dynamic, to the point that the letter-writer’s entirely reasonable response pushed her over the edge.

        Not that it excuses the behavior, either during the fitting or after. But I can totally understand this reaction.

  • Maya

    15k?! I doubt even the amazingly expensives weddings featured in Vogue include $15,000 bridesmaid dresses. (And besides — if you have the budget to ask that of your bridesmaids, you ought to have the money to pay for them.)

  • Abby

    $15,000 was my target wedding budget. (No such luck as it turns out) but STILL. Can’t imagine expecting someone to pay for a dress at that price tag.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    This is absolutely bananas.

  • Cleo

    A good friend of mine is a bridesmaid in a mutual friend’s wedding. Mutual friend’s mom is loaded to a ridiculous point, seemingly like the LW’s ex-friend’s FMIL (taking a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip to Paris from the states, ordering everything on the menu of a Michelin star restaurant “just to see,” a house in Beverly HIlls and one in the Hamptons and one in the Swiss Alps type of rich).

    Mutual friend wanted to gift all her bridesmaids matching designer dresses for the wedding festivities. Mutual friend’s mom was more than excited to contribute to this and suggested they get multiple dresses for all the various wedding weekend activities. My friend has been given 3 bridesmaid dresses for this wedding weekend – each one costs anywhere from $750-$3000 – and the mom has also decided to buy all the bridesmaids shoes.

    This is ridiculous, but also the right way to do expensive bridesmaid’s dresses.

    • Emily

      YES! If you’ve got the money and you want to share it, then that’s a beautiful thing!

      • Leah

        Yes, totally. My friend group has never opted for pricey dresses, thankfully, but I was a bridesmaid in a good friend’s wedding and her parents have serious money. So they put the whole wedding party and our SOs up in this beautiful fancy inn for 3 nights (I peeked and rooms were ~$350/night) and paid for us to get our hair and makeup done, and it made for a completely lovely special weekend for all of us, including the bride – we all got to hang out and spend quality time in this beautiful inn and get pampered – and felt like just the right thing to do with money that you want to spend on your daughter’s besties.

    • Amanda L.

      Yes, this!

    • flashphase

      I’ve been in 2 weddings where the bride’s family bought the dresses and we paid for alterations. Granted the dresses were $250 or less. But still – seems to me that this family can afford to pay for the bridesmaids dresses so the real question is why wouldn’t they pay for hers?

      • quiet000001

        Yup. My SIL didn’t have ridiculously expensive dresses, but she made the dress the ‘big’ part of her gift to her bridesmaids rather than buying stuff that wouldn’t get used (like random whatever with the wedding date on it.) I think some of her bridesmaids were in grad school or just out of it, so it helped to not have that expense. (She also got small personal gifts for everyone, but stuff people actually wanted – I think I got simple small pearl earrings and I was ~12 so they were totally appropriate – rather than ‘I have to buy you something Big Enough’ things.)

        Also, what the heck does a $15k bridesmaids dress look like? I’ve seen really pricey wedding gowns, but they’re usually ornate enough that I can’t imagine a bridesmaid’s dress that fancy – they aren’t supposed to compete with the bride!

    • alv

      This exactly. Quite frankly, if the bride’s family any class whatsoever they wold be paying the expenses for the entire wedding party without question.

    • That’s definitely doing it right. Also I wish I had someone like that to take me shopping…

  • rebecca

    It’s impossible for me to read this letter without replaying the entire Bridesmaids dress shopping scene in my head https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e400ffdda206fcdf21d834682a61d46bf7677298ab46e13843e931c11d1f2e1.jpg

  • Megan Woodrich

    I’m sorry but that is just RIDICULOUS. It sucks to lose a fifteen year friendship, but in this case, maybe it wasn’t worth having. This bride is living on another planet.

    For reference, my WEDDING DRESS was $300. WEDDING. DRESS. When I was a bridesmaid for my college roommate, I balked at the bridesmaid’s dresses which were as expensive than my wedding dress. But hey, they were still only $300… and I got to wear my own shoes.

    I don’t know what else to say except that woman is out of her dang mind.

  • Mrrpaderp

    Bride was looking for an excuse to end her friendship with LW. Maybe bride is embarrassed of her own upbringing? Her financial status? Wants fiance’s family to think that she has fancy friends who can afford fancy things too? Whatever the issue is, it’s her issue, not LW’s.

    I’m very sorry for LW that a nearly lifelong friendship is ending – or at least pausing – this way. I’ve had similar experiences, where you think a friendship is going well even if maybe you thought something was changing a little, then all of a sudden she takes some totally unreasonable position that there’s just no compromising on. Sometimes they’ll come back sheepishly in a couple of months or years and explain what happened, sometimes they won’t. It just sucks. LW, you didn’t do anything wrong and this is not your fault.

  • ManderGimlet

    I remember when this first ran a couple years ago and I’m still gobsmacked by it. I wonder whatever happened with this wedding and if the bride ever got a grip?

    • Sara

      I kinda wish we had updates like on Ask A Manager – I would love to know how some of these questions turned out.

      • So! We actually did reach out for an update on this one, and she okayed me sharing it with you guys:

        Hello Liz,

        Nice to hear from you. Your advice, and those of the readers, helped confirm my decision, so I thank you for publishing my letter and for answering my question.

        I did not buy the dress; she ultimately decided on the $15,000 dress (with considerable pressure/arm-twisting from her MIL-to-be), which was waaaay out of my budget for a bridesmaid dress. I’m told the costs were closer to $20,000 for the bridesmaid dresses when alterations, accessories, and shoes were included.

        As the only non-family member of the original wedding party, her in-laws did not offer to pay for my dress, so I bowed out. The bride pitched a fit, told me that I was “uninvited” to her wedding since I obviously didn’t love her, and that was that. She had her big, bashy royal wedding, and I stayed home.

        She has not called me, messaged me, or written to me. I gave her time, thinking that after the wedding insanity and hoopla died down she would come to her senses. I sent her a card several months after her wedding, telling her that I was sorry that I could not afford to be part of her, that we were friends for a long time, and that I wished her well. The card was returned to me with her handwriting on it, telling me that she could never forgive me and to stay out of her life, so that’s what I’ve done.

        I do miss her and her friendship, but I miss the old her, the person I grew up with and who was kind, funny, caring. I don’t miss the Bridezilla she turned into, and have decided that if she has come so far that she forgot her old life and what it was like to grow up working class poor and to have work for a living and holds it against me, then she’s not the person I thought she was. I suppose that marrying into that kind and amount of money and wealth (her husband’s family own too many McMansions to count, racehorses, businesses, and more, so it isn’t just a matter of someone having a great job and earning lots of money–there’s a great deal of inherited wealth, the kind that isn’t taxed and/or qualifies for all kinds of tax shelters and loopholes). It is a completely different lifestyle and worldview. And that’s fine, but I have no place in it because I don’t come from inherited wealth and could never work enough to even earn what they spend on trifles. It is a difference of the .0001% vs. everyone else.

        Weddings have become expensive enough as it is, even for ordinary couples. I guess I’m more pragmatic–even if I had had the $15K, I couldn’t justify spending it on a dress that I would wear for not even one day. That kind of money could pay down some debt (hello student loans), set aside some for emergencies (hello expensive car repairs and medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance), or just trying to put some aside for future retirement (I’ll be working until they plant me).

        Keep up the good work with your blog, and help keep the bridal insanity down!

        Best,

        MaryBeth

        • CMT

          There has never been a better argument for estate taxes.

          • uggggh

            ha, yes!

        • Emily

          I just can’t even. Every time I’ve read this letter I immediately assumed 15,000 was a typo. I would love to have seen a picture of the dress…is it made from the silk of endangered worms or something?

        • Sara

          Thanks for sharing this update! Its always sad and really hard when childhood friends turn into completely different people as adults. We all grow up and change, but some change in such a drastic way its hard to keep hold of them.
          I’m going through the opposite problem (friend became a really devout religious monk and basically lives on handouts/donations now) and its heartbreaking to remember the old guy that hung out, drank wine and cheated at board games vs the new guy that isn’t allowed to wear shoes or use technology at his monastery.

    • lamarsh

      Was just about to write this. I really want to know if this bride ever came around to reality.

      • ManderGimlet

        Looks like they added the update! Bummed to see the friend didn’t come around, but at least LW saw the writing on the wall before going into hock to be a bridesmaid

        • lamarsh

          Me too! On one hand, my heart breaks for the LW, on the other, I guess it can be good to know who your friends are.

    • ART

      (re update comment that has been deleted so I can’t reply directly) Wow. I’m sorry that LW lost a “friend” (because I hate that sort of thing, it haunts me), but this seems like the one to lose, if you have to. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on APW and other sites about how there’s always that one friend/couple that you never see again after your wedding – and it seems like it’s usually some kind of unexpected fade-out, but of course there are plenty of examples of fade-outs (or blackouts!) precipitated by weird shit like this on one side or the other. We had that happen, and it felt like extreme drama at the time but this puts it to shame! I hope LW continues to feel vindicated by comments here that $15-20k for a bridesmaid dress is FUCKING NUTS unless you are the type that vacations among your literal piles of money.

      • Liz

        My b! I was stepping away from my desk when I posted, and it looks like the team popped it into the post for me (which is a way better spot for it).

  • Rose_C

    It feels sort of sad that the friend didn’t include her bridesmaids in the fun process of choosing the dresses also? Which would have potentially brought up this cost beforehand, but also is one of the nice trade offs for being a bridesmaid.

    • Colleen

      The worst and most expensive bridesmaid’s dress I ever wore was selected with no bridesmaid involvement. It was so weird to me. I can understand if you don’t want to do the whole brunch, bubbly, girls’ day shopping thing (though I was sad about that, too), but you didn’t want to see this dress on even a couple of your friends’/family members’ bodies before deciding it was “the one?”

  • KRS887

    15k for a dress is INSANE and I think LW handled it as well as she could have, considering there is no way the bride would have taken this news well. I’m sorry for LW that all of this happened. What a crappy way for a friendship to end.
    The most I’ve spent on a bridesmaids dress was around $300 and required around $100 worth of alterations (put on my cc while I was self employed, yipes!) but the bride didn’t require special shoes, hair or make up etc. so the whole thing wasn’t THAT bad overall.
    I’m getting married in 5 months and I opted to let my friends pick their own dress from a variety of approved colors mostly so they could all set their own price point for it. If someone wants to pay $200+ for something entirely of their choosing they can, if they want to spent $50 they can too. I would say I know the women I selected as bridesmaids well enough to get a general sense of what they are willing to spend (which isn’t directly correlated with income necessarily! I have friends working in corporate law who do well but would never spend $200+ on a dress and hey, good for them!) and I just felt better leaving it up to them since they are all traveling to the wedding itself.

  • Elizabeth

    I had major wedding and cost fatigue after my brother got married. My SIL’s family did it up real big and there were a ton of events and things I had to spend money on, plus I live five hours away and was expected to drop everything and drive at the drop of a hat.

    Unfortunately, now that I’m getting married, I now have a mortal fear of financially distressing people the way I was financially distressed, and I know my response has sometimes skewed too far towards literally not wanting to do anything that could possibly inconvenience anyone. Which I know is just as bad, because for the most part the people who care about you will want to do wedding related things with you.

    Anyway, I got anxious reading this letter because in my crazy mind it could just as easily have been one of my bridesmaids writing in because I chose a dress over $XX amount. I’m just so scared of being a problem for people.

    But $15k what the hell that’s my entire wedding.

  • ssha

    The quote that sticks out to me from the update is “I sent her a card several months after her wedding, telling her that I was sorry that I could not afford to be part of her…” I’m not sure if this is a typo and supposed to be “part of her wedding,” but it is sad when someone who presumably at one point was a reasonable human being is now so blind to reality that you can’t afford to be part of their life.

  • Danielle

    Welp.
    I’ve nothing more to add than email Nubianbridaldesigns@gmail dot com to WIN a free convertible dress that bridesmaids love!

  • Pingback: My Friend Is Angry That I Won’t Buy a $15K Bridesmaid Dress | Wedding Adviser()

  • Alli

    The update makes me sad. I mean good riddance to someone who turned out to be a shitty friend, but to have your worth as a lifelong friend reduced to “can you pay this? no? fuck you.” The petty part of me would write a letter saying “Sorry I’m suddenly too poor for you.” but that wouldn’t even get through to her I’m guessing.

  • Liz

    I once backed out of a wedding where I was a groomswoman, and the bride’s mother chose a lime-green dress with a butt-bow that extended past the hips for $300, and – this was the straw that broke the whole camel – insisted that I wear the 5″ heels in a size too small, because my feet are not “ladylike”. Now I like me a heel, but NOT in a size too small at that height!

    I really think it’s about life situation and expectation. It was totally unreasonable of this bride not to understand the very easily-comprehensible difference between “someone else is funding this” for everyone else, and “decision between this and rent” for the OP. Good LORD.

  • Beth

    I’m so sad to hear that – sometimes weddings can really bring out the worst in people. I’d have done exactly the same in your position, 15K is a crazy amount to spend on a dress.

  • LAinTexas

    Just here to say that I love the update and that I feel so bad for LW that her inability to afford an ungodly expensive bridesmaid dress ruined a long-time friendship because of that friend’s attitude. Solidarity, LW – I would’ve bowed out, too!

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    “It is a completely different lifestyle and worldview. And that’s fine, but I have no place in it because I don’t come from inherited wealth and could never work enough to even earn what they spend on trifles.”

    I disagree that this is ‘fine’. There is something wrong with the ridiculous levels of wealth inequality that plague our world. I understand what LW is saying and don’t blame her at all for withdrawing from this ex-friend’s life! Just felt the need to comment on our acceptance that the super rich are just different from us. No- there is something wrong.

  • Heather

    OMG!!! I’m so glad I saw there’s an update!!! This letter has stuck with me since it was first published. LW – I’m so sorry things turned out like this, my heart goes out to you. It sucks to see friends change into someone you don’t recognize.

  • Conor Murphy

    THIS IS SO REAL. I was asked to be a MOH for a childhood “best” friend. We had drifted in college but since graduating and both being back in our home towns we started to reconnect. She got engaged and I knew I’d be asked to be her MOH and even though we had been reconnecting I did feel that the relationship wasn’t what it used to be. But when asked I said yes and honestly thought that having this would reconnect our bond because we used to have long conversations as to what our weddings would be like. I get that this is the brides day but like the bride in this and my bride something switches when they get the ring. When we would discuss dresses I said let’s try to do 100 I was recently out of college and only had a part time job and was considering doing a year of service as an AmeriCorps (does not actually pay and you live on a stipend of the poverty line in your serving community) so budget was tight and I figured as a recent grad and trying to get into grad school she’d understand that. What I forgot was she really never was told no when it came to buying clothes or expensive things. She acted like she understood the value of money and that it was important not to go lavish but honestly did not practice what she preached. Anyway although budget did come into play with her dress selection but the ultimate issue was style. She had narrowed down to two dresses and wanted a very specific color. When looking at the dresses one I felt would be very unflattering and revealing chest wise for me. I was dealing with a lot of body issues at the time and was not in the best place. I told her before she picked that I get I’m her maid of honor and I want her to be happy but the one dress really wouldn’t work on my body. She’d come back with you’re beautiful in either. I know now I really should have been more firm but whatever. She just posts to the bridesmaid group the dress I was uncomfortable about. My heart sank. I really didn’t know what to do or what to say. I did look to see if maybe I could find a dress by the same designer was available in a more comfortable and flattering style. I did. So I sent it to her. She came back with well that’s a different material so the color will be different and I really want all my maids to be in the same dress….well I’m shaking now thinking back to that. I tried to get her to call me to talk and she was reluctant because her phone doesn’t work…she also was like they said they could add a strap. The strap wasn’t the issue it was a sweetheart neckline and those are very revealing to my I’m pretty sure I was at least an H at this time. When she kept harping on the strap I called her. When I’m upset I talk loud not the best when communicating but when I feel attacked I go defensive so the phone call went no where and brought up our past issues. I also get irrational and said well then I’m out you’re not listening to me and I’m out. (She had also added my sister to the wedding party which stressed my mom who knew she’d have to help me out most likely but would be fronting my sisters entire bill) I had to go to work and was already late so the convo really didn’t end. I like this bride wrote a letter apologizing for getting loud and really explaining how her not taking into account my concerns about the dress and just going forward with this choice really hurt my feelings and even talked about where I was mentally about my body issues. Her response was shallow like the brides in the story. Once sentence of well we all have body issues and if you ever want to talk I’m here…and then the rest going on and on about her marrying her soulmate. I did respond and said that we really should talk adding I’d keep my cool. We talked and I thought I was getting somewhere and thought she had heard me when she just said I’d rather save this friendship then have you in my wedding. I want to look back at you sitting with your family and that will be all I need. Needless to say the friendship is over. And at first I blamed it on her not getting over a dress but the ultimate issue that the friendship was doomed to fail. The past problem involved me saying she had done something wrong to me and my feelings were hurt which led her to attack me and not listen or really apologize in anyway. Like this question I saw this girl as a sister and she got me through some really tough times but in the end this friendship was only meant for elemtary and high school and unfortunately will not go forward. Which is honestly heartbreaking because your younger self thought you’d be in each other’s lives forever through thick and thin. But weddings may make crazy brides but their true colors are revealed and it’s comforting to know I wasn’t the only one to have a friendship end because of a dress.

  • mui

    this bride is bananas. I’m happy for the letter writer that she stood up for herself and didn’t get pressured into buying that. $15000??!! that could be a huge chunk of a down payment for a house, emergency fund for 3-6 months! a nice/reliable car! furthering your education! i don’t know, paying for rent, utilities and food??!! this blows my mind hole that someone would actually expect other people to spend that kind of money on a dress!!!

  • Nell

    If $5k flower girl dresses exist, then then $15k bridesmaids dresses definitely exist:

    https://www.teenvogue.com/story/blue-ivy-5000-dollar-dress-wedding

    Not to knock Beyonce’s parenting skills – but good gravy!

  • Alexandra

    Possibly one of the best things that APW did for me when I was wedding planning was alert me to the existence of that bridesmaids’ dress rental company (do they still exist)? I paid the rental fees for the dresses for all my BMs and it’s something I still feel good about. The two times I was a bridesmaid: 1. My best friend bought the dress for me because I flew to her wedding and she wanted to do something nice for me. 2. My ex-SIL had us spend $200 on a JCrew dress. I was quite salty about it. I am an avowed cheapskate and I thought $200 was ridiculous, especially since I knew I could get a nice dress on ebay or even on sale at JCrew for much less.

    I’m a teacher and wore the JCrew dress to the prom as a chaperone a couple of times. But then I had two babies and will never fit into the before kids clothes again. Sigh.

  • Old biddy

    OMG. I’ve never had to be a bridesmaid but would probably start getting cranky around $200 or up. Even if it were something I loved, my body type is such that the odds of me being able to wear it again would be minimal. I’ve got big ribs and shoulders and a 5-10 lb cycle up or down makes the difference between perfect fit and too loose or sausage fit.
    FWIW I had a casual wedding and wore a $40 dress from the Talbots clearance rack.

  • ItsyBit

    This. Is. Bananas.

    I mean, it was bananas when I read the original letter when that was published, but I also thought that the bride would come to her senses post-wedding. I cannot imagine throwing away a friendship because they don’t have money like you do and I have sooo many feelings about this, but mostly I feel for LW. What a horrible thing to have to go through.

  • Thomas Siebert

    Found this story via Twitter link and it’s so beyond my ken that it hits the surreal, to the point where I don’t want believe it’s real. A $15000 bridesmaid dress? A best friend who would cut you out of her life because you can’t afford it? Tragic all around; you could feed a poor neighborhood for that for a week.

  • Elizabeth W.

    I totally get this girl on multiple levels!
    I was in a longtime friend’s wedding where she was willing to go all out and take a loan out to pay for the wedding. The dress part wasn’t too bad, but it was everything else I was expected to pay for that made me wish I had backed out.
    There were some other things that happened the following year where I realized that my friendship wasn’t valued. I distanced myself from her because of that and she didn’t make any effort to close that distance even after I (diplomaticly) said what was bothering me. So I totally get the “I miss her friendship, but of the person she was” feelings. It sucks and I’m sorry you had to go through that, but on some level it’s nice to know there’s someone out there who gets how I feel too. 💙

  • YCH3000

    Christ im happy that in my country the bridesmaids dresses are a gift from the bride. it’s ridiculous to expect someone to pay an amount you decide on to come to your party.

    • Yeah, I’ve never really got why bridesmaids buy their own dresses in the US. I would have compared it to buying your own uniform at a minimum wage employer, but thanks to AAM I now know that’s perfectly normal in the US too, so I’m at a loss. Etiquette: cultural norms are not universal norms.

      • cmoorecole

        Again – it has not always been this way in the US. When I was young (1960’s thru 80s) buying your own bridesmaid’s dress wasn’t even an option. The bride’s father paid for everything but the pre-wedding dinner.

  • paula

    I’m sorry that happened to you, MB. As the saying goes, when someone shows you their true colours, believe them the first time. You deserve better.

  • Noinipo

    Does anyone else wonder how much the wedding dress cost?

  • Harry Pretzel

    Her ex friend sounds like a fucking bitch.

  • Frank

    i hope that bride spends all of dude’s family money up quick! Lol, what did the wedding itself cost?!? For what, 6 hours?! LMAO at the stupidity of it all. That family money won’t go far spending like that!

  • LadyWoman

    It’s so strange to me to think that we EXPECT being a bridesmaid to be so expensive you have to save up. Of course, everyone has their own financial circumstances and I know a lot of people have to plan and save for ANY item beyond living expenses, and a fancy dress or shoes or plane ticket are definitely not every day items.
    But I can’t imagine setting an unreasonable price point, not subsidizing or giving options, and then trashing a friendship because someone can’t afford to do something with me, even if it is my wedding. You can’t set other people’s budgets for them. I couldn’t afford to take off work and fly cross-country and stay in a hotel in my 20’s but, goodness gracious, I’m still friends with the people whose wedding I missed because they get it.

  • Papa

    I think that you should consider the idea that this was intentional. Your friend decided to rid herself of her ‘poorer’ attachments (you) so that she could enjoy more expensive pursuits. Keeping you as a friend would cause her embarrassment among her richer friends. A clean and honest break would require an embarrassing explanation, so she devised this obvious ploy. She knew you could never afford the dress and getting rid of you was as easy as not offering to buy it for you. I don’t believe for a second that it was thoughtlessness on her part, rather it was cold calculation from the start. I believe that some day she’ll realize that she threw away what truly made her rich – the love of an honest friend.

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  • Hana

    THA FUCK?????!!!! What a materialistic wench (I have other names in mind)…. I’m sorry but, “a longtime (over fifteen years) and very dear friend. This woman is the sister I never had, and we’re closer to each other than we are to many of our own family members.” NO!

    This is absolutely disgusting… in what world is this normal/ok. Girl, you are much better off without her.

    Hey, we can be friends… you can get your bridemaids dress from Goodwill for all I care :)