Q: My friend is getting married. It started as a small ceremony in the park, going to her place afterward for dinner. Later, we would put our children to sleep under a baby sitter’s care and go out dancing. Then it changed into something bigger: a rustic setting with bridesmaids but still casual. Now it has blown up into a big fancy place with matching outfits for bridesmaids. All seven bridesmaids have families with kids and are now required to have same color dresses and professional makeup. My family is on one income, and the expenses come to over $1,000. How can I get out of it without hurting her feelings or breaking my bank (or robbing a bank)?
A: People talk about “wedding markup” mostly with respect to vendors.
But the more significant wedding markup might apply to the emotions surrounding them.
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What you describe is a simple case of being priced out of something. “I could afford the original version of [blank], but now with all the changes, it’s too expensive for me.”
Maybe saying this wouldn’t be the most fun you’ve had all summer, but you’d still probably have no trouble saying it if [blank] were, say, a day trip to another city.
That [blank] is a wedding inflates it to a matter of fear, dread, guilt and hurt feelings.
You can, though, choose to deflate your part of it, and deliberately treat it as a simple case of being priced out of an activity.
Tell your friend you were honored to be included and you support her having the wedding she wants, in whatever form it takes, but that you regret to say you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid. Offer to help her in some other capacity, of course, that allows you to be there just as a regular guest.
If she takes offense at your not having a disposable $1,000 — and don’t call it anything else, because that’s all that’s at stake here — then that’s on her, not you.
Washington Post Writers Group