: My friend asked me to be her matron of honor. How can I tell her I can’t afford to host lavish parties and buy matching jewelry without ruining our friendship?

Dear Moneyist,

My friend is getting married and wants me as her matron of honor. She and her fiancé have been together for many years, and they have two-year-old twins. They own a house together that they purchased when they had high-paying temp jobs, but after losing those jobs they can barely afford the house.

Her grandparents pay for most of their child care and paid a large portion of their down payment, and are now paying a part of the wedding costs. They go on vacations they can’t afford and buy tickets to expensive sporting events and concerts. I hesitate to be a part of this wedding because I can’t afford to throw her a big bridal shower, bachelorette party, and buy a new dress, etc.

‘My child is going to be starting college and I really need to focus my money on their education.’

My child is going to be starting college, and I really need to focus my money on their education. I hosted her baby shower and it went from hosting a few people at my house to her wanting a co-ed couple party with over 30 guests. Her fiancé has high standards and specific opinions on how he feels things should be done. 

She doesn’t have any girlfriends besides me, and most of her friends are couple friends that are friends of her fiancé. I know how out of hand the baby shower got and I can’t afford to rent a venue and I can’t fit 30 to 40 people in my house comfortably. 

So far this wedding has gone from, buy a dress in the wedding colors that you would wear again to matching dresses (the rest of the bridal party is from his family), matching hair, matching jewelry,  etc.

I don’t feel like a good friend right now because every time she sends me wedding details I think, ‘They can’t afford this, and I can’t afford this.’ This couple fights a lot, and I have concerns about the marriage in general, so maybe that is also clouding my opinions here.

I’m not sure how to not ruin my friendship, but also not commit to a financial obligation that I can’t afford.


Dear Bad BFF,

Draw a red line through “matching jewelry.” That’s beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

I have a theory about the trajectory of many demanding, self-absorbed people. It’s a numbers game. For every one person who is soft touch, there are two dozen who didn’t bite. You’re it, for the moment at least. The next conversation or two you have with your friend will tell you whether she is willing to to compromise — or not.

It sounds like you don’t like her very much. At the very least, she considers you a better friend than you consider her. That may be because you are her only girlfriend. If you have not said yes, think very carefully. Don’t say yes if you cannot commit fully — both financially and in your heart. Personally, I advise against it.

Alternatively, meet your friend for lunch, and write down her requests. Calculate the cost, and tell her your budget. Tell her you would like to do everything you can, but hiring a venue or buying jewelry that you can’t afford is just too much for you right now, and you have major expenses with your child going to college.

Tell her what you suggest instead. A bridal shower at your house that can accommodate X amount of people. You can ask them to bring one dish and a bottle of wine. People are usually only too happy to help. It also helps them to know if they’re bringing something that you actually need.

‘If she cannot have a bridal shower without incurring high costs for you, the problem is bigger than your friendship.’

She needs to respect your financial situation. If your doesn’t like what you have to say, explain to her that your role of matron of honor as you understand it is to help her and do what you can to make this a happy experience, but if it’s beyond your budget and she’s not OK with that, then it’s not a happy experience.

The hard truth is if she only has one girlfriend, there is a reason. Before you, there were likely many other people who decided not to stick around, or simply told her that they were busy or they weren’t going to put up with her guff. Every so often, one person probably stuck around, until they too could not take it anymore.

If you feel like this now, imagine what it will be like six months from now. If she cannot have a bridal shower without incurring high costs for you, the problem is bigger than your friendship. It’s not your responsibility as matron of honor to fix her life, or judge her for the way she lives her life. You only have to be true to yourself.

If you say yes, you need to tell her what you are saying “yes” to — that includes what you are willing and able to spend and, if she pushes you, remind her of your conversation. If she does not respect your wishes, you can walk away. Tell her, “I can’t be the matron of honor you want me to be.”

A matron of honor should not be a hostage to every whim and financial request.

Also read: I want to take a life-insurance policy out on my husband. He says ‘hell will freeze over’ before he’s worth more dead than alive

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