How To Tell Your Friend Being In Their Wedding Is Too Expensive

"Petition to normalize the bride totaling how much it will cost to be a bridesmaid/maid of honor and putting that number in the 'will you be my bridesmaid' box," wrote Twitter user @codanisa. While the idea of a bride sending their potential bridal party a breakdown of expected expenses may feel absurd, it actually makes sense to be upfront about the financial commitment required in saying yes to being a bridesmaid. Weddings are usually expensive for the couple getting married, but they're also financially straining for the other people involved in the wedding, such as those in the wedding party itself.

2017 Wedding Wire study noted that, on average, bridesmaids spend around $1,200 on a single wedding. Factor in inflation and the other trendy fluff bridesmaids are also expected to shoulder (bachelorette parties abroad, for instance), then the total cost to stand beside the bride as they say "I Do" to their partner can easily rise to the price of a second-hand vehicle in the present day. It's never cool to put a price on friendship, but it can be frustrating to be roped into coughing up thousands of dollars on a single event — especially one that isn't even yours.

Getting asked to be a bridesmaid over a dozen times like Katherine Heigl on "27 Dresses" may be a tad bit unrealistic, but you can probably expect an invitation a handful of times in your life. You might feel pressured and obliged to spring for whatever expenses your soon-to-be-married pal requires, but you don't have to say yes. If you can't hack it, the best course of action is, to be honest right from the start.

Practice transparency from the get-go

Emotional boundaries are part of any relationship, but so are financial boundaries. While you may be more than happy to support your family or friend as they embark on a new and exciting chapter in their life, it doesn't have to put a damper on your finances, or worse, put you in the red. If you were chosen to be part of a bridal party but know the associated costs have no room in your budget, communicate it to them early on.

The last thing you want is to feel resentment toward your loved one or create unnecessary tension in your relationship. The fact that they asked you to be part of their bride squad means that they mean a lot to you, so they will likely understand if you can't accommodate the expenses that being a bridesmaid demands. You are also presumably already close to begin with, so they may already have an idea of your current financial standing, or if there are things happening in your life that render you unable to spend on non-essentials. If you intend to cut back on expenses, make sure to avoid dilly-dallying, as you would only make things more complicated if you choose to wait.

Andrea Bonior, a Bethesda-based therapist, told The New York Times that the manner in which you break the news is just as important. "I think it is best to have a phone call if you can because it shows that you're going to truly make time for them," she noted. "Text is too casual because it doesn't reflect that you realize it's a big deal to them."

Help the bride find alternative solutions

Agreeing to be part of a bridal party comes with a long list of obligations, but not all of them are monetary. You can still show your support for the bride by helping with other wedding-related tasks. For instance, if you can't join the bachelorette shindig happening on the other side of the country, you can assist the rest of the bridal party with planning and logistics. You can also offer to treat the bride to lunch or a night out when they get back, so you can join in on the fun.

If your soon-to-be-married friend is the flexible type, they may also agree to give you leeway in one of the most expensive parts of being a bridesmaid: the dress. That way, you can stretch your budget further by renting a dress, thrifting, or even making your own. You can choose to do your own hair and makeup, too.

You also have the option to devote more time and effort to helping the bride plan the wedding. Perhaps you can volunteer to tag along in their dress shopping or fitting appointments, or assist them with decorations if they have chosen to do DIY. Plus, considering how stressful wedding planning can be, you can also help them take the edge off by spending time with them to talk about anything else but the wedding. As a bridesmaid, the most priceless — and perhaps most important — thing you can do is to show up.

Don't be hard on yourself if you choose to decline

Being part of a bridal party may seem like an obligation, but remember that it isn't, and no one is holding you at gunpoint to say yes. At the end of the day, it's a choice you have to make on your own, and if you decide to say no to the job completely, it doesn't make you a bad friend. It's definitely not your fault that you currently don't have the bandwidth to make that big of a commitment, so it's not like you're declining just to sabotage them. "It should feel like a choice you are making because you want to," Miriam Kirmayer, a therapist and friendship expert, told The New York Times. "It also shouldn't come at the expense of your own well-being."

As much as you want to be part of the bridal party, you shouldn't have to compromise your finances or other commitments just to accommodate your friend. Your news may sting momentarily, but it's highly likely that it won't be a dealbreaker. Just be transparent and be as supportive as you can, and show up when it counts. "As long as you approach the conversation honestly, focus on the solutions you can make work, and keep your support high, you shouldn't feel bad about pumping the brakes on your own spending," finance coach Raya Reaves shared with Brides. "There is life after the wedding!"