Dear Tori: Help! I Can’t Afford to Be in My Friend’s Wedding

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Wedding season is in full swing, meaning couples are getting married and people are being asked to be in their weddings. What should be a happy time can often turn stressful due to — you guessed it! — costs. It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive, but what’s often overlooked is how much it can cost to be a bridesmaid or groomsman.

A wedding isn’t just a one-day event. When you agree to be in someone’s wedding, you might be expected to go on a bachelor or bachelorette trip, help throw a bridal shower, pay for an outfit, and give multiple gifts. All of this can add up to hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars. If that’s not feasible for your budget, then keep reading for advice I gave to someone in a similar situation.

Dear Tori,

My friend from college just got engaged and asked me to be in her wedding. She asked me in the sweetest way and I immediately said yes. But, we’ve been discussing plans with the other bridesmaids and the costs are beginning to add up. I’m not sure if I can afford it between the bachelorette trip to Nashville, the shower, and the fact that I’ll need to fly to her wedding and stay in a hotel.

I don’t know how to tell her that I need to back out without hurting her feelings. 

What should I do?

Being honest with yourself and your finances is huge, so be proud of yourself for doing that. It’s not easy. I think the first step is to figure out what you can and cannot afford. Could you be a bridesmaid and opt out of the bachelorette trip? Take a look to see if you can make it work.

You can get a quick overview of all your financial accounts with Personal Capital’s free financial dashboard. You can track your net worth, cash flow, investment allocation, and more.

If you can’t finance everything, here’s how to approach that conversation with your friend.

Be honest and upfront.

Try to decide how you want to proceed and have a conversation — in person or over the phone is ideal — as soon as possible. Explain how honored you are to be asked, but being in a wedding is not part of your budget right now. Tell her you’ll still love to come to the wedding (if that works for your budget) and you’ll be there to support her during this exciting time in her life.

Stand firm in your decision.

It’s possible that your friend will try to convince you to be in the wedding. She probably just wants you to be part of it, but it’s important to stick with the choice you made. It won’t make it easier on your friendship if you go back and forth. Instead, re-explain why you came to this decision and assure her that you’re still just as excited that she’s getting married as you were before.

Calculate what you can afford.

Now, it’s time to see what you can afford to spend when it comes to the wedding. Can you afford to go? Maybe you can get her a super thoughtful gift? Can you still attend the shower? Take a look at your financial situation to see what you need to plan for financially for the wedding. This will give you clarity and events to look forward to during your friend’s engagement and later wedding.

It takes transparency and sometimes sacrifice to achieve financial goals and build wealth. I usually recommend using Personal Capital’s free financial tools as a resource. These free tools allow you to sync all your financial accounts so you get a clear picture of where you stand. I check Personal Capital daily for tracking my net worth and my progress towards goals like retirement, debt payoff, and (yes!) saving that first $100k.

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Personal Capital compensates Tori Dunlap of Her First $100k (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this article. Compensation not to exceed $500. Author is not a client of Personal Capital Advisors Corporation. Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage (www.HerFirst100k.com) to register with Personal Capital and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to Personal Capital’s Free Financial Dashboard. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Personal Capital and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to PCC. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Personal Capital as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to PCC and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by PCC’s affiliated adviser, Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, PCC or PCAC as a result of this arrangement.