Q: Dear Amy,
I lived with several wonderful ladies during my senior year of college. We are all still very close friends, so naturally when I got engaged back in 2017, it was no question that three of them would be in my bridal party. I’m getting married in May 2020.
Fast forward to this past February (2019). One of my bridesmaids got engaged, and has scheduled her wedding less than a month after mine. Of course the same group of us will be in her bridal party. That’s totally fine with me, I understand I’m not the center of the universe. The issue is that I feel like she isn’t being considerate of our financial situations.
I’m being super conscious of the financial burden of being in a wedding. I’m trying to be careful about picking bridesmaids dresses that are “affordable” (if there’s such a thing in the wedding world), I’m looking for a low-key bachelorette party, hair/makeup is optional, etc. She, on the other hand, is considering a bachelorette party in Vegas or Nashville, and has booked a $130 per person makeup artist that we feel obligated to use.
I hate that I’m comparing myself to her, but I feel like she’s not being thoughtful about the expenses she is asking for three of us who are in two weddings (one of which is my own!) within a month’s time. I have no idea how to talk to her about this. I was engaged/had my wedding date set loooong before she was engaged, so I wish there had been more consideration of what these demands will be. I can’t foresee a situation in which I can afford a weekend in Vegas while I’m trying to pay for my own wedding.
Any advice? I’m all ears!
I’m really excited about this question, because it comes up for so many people all the time. It’s completely normal and common for all of a sudden several friends to all be getting married around the same time, and even if that isn’t the case, we all have budgets of some sort to consider in balancing our own needs with our desires and abilities to show up for our friends.
What I’m hearing from your letter is some frustration that you’re in this situation at all. You got engaged first! You picked your date first! It would be much more convenient for you if this wasn’t happening! Which I get—I think you understand that she gets her day and you get yours, and that you cannot reasonably expect no one to get engaged and schedule a wedding near yours, especially with a three-year-long engagement. So I just encourage you to remind yourself that there’s no such thing as too much happiness.
I do think you’re conflating these issues a bit, because a part of you feels like you have right on your side. She knows you’re getting married too! Who does she think she is asking you to spend more on her wedding than she is spending on yours! You’re doing a great job at this! (And I do think you sound pretty reasonable, but also, yes, affordable dresses 100% exist, bachelorette parties are optional things traditionally others offer to you if they want and can afford them, and as you obviously know, hair/makeup doesn’t always feel optional. Just saying, don’t pat yourself on the back too much!)
In reality though, we all have budgets. And the solution isn’t any different because your finances are tight because you’re planning a wedding than it would be because you have student loans, or medical bills, or just plain do not choose to spend all your available funds on other people’s weddings.
You just have to talk to her. And the sooner the better. The worst outcomes I see here are when people just casually let the bride think everything is fine when it isn’t. Don’t want to spend $130 on hair and makeup? Great! Don’t! Tell her literally today “Hey just so you can make plans, I’m going to be doing my own hair and makeup and won’t need you to book me a slot with your person.” She brings up a bachelorette in Nashville or Vegas? “Judy, I’m so excited for your wedding! I can’t swing an out-of-town bachelorette but I am happy to celebrate locally and will be with you in spirit if you go have an adventure!”
And please, whatever you do, when you talk to her, stick to your own budget and your own concerns. It can be easy in a friend group to talk amongst your other friends and then talk to her on behalf of others. This will not be helpful, and may make her feel ganged up on. Your other friends—even though they are also your bridesmaids—need to speak for themselves on this matter, and can let her know what they can and cannot do. It may be tempting to “speak for the group”, but I think you will find that it only makes matters worse.
This isn’t a race to be more virtuous. You don’t need to have a good reason to decline spending money on these things, and she doesn’t need to somehow deserve to ask this of you. Just be upfront about what does and doesn’t work for you.
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