Saying “I Don’t” To Wedding Party Expenses

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The food, the dress, the… finances. Whether we like to admit it or not, weddings aren’t built purely on the currency of love and a great party. And now, more than ever, taking part in someone’s special day can snowball into a much larger financial commitment. With the engagement party, the wedding shower, bridal parties, and bachelor/bachelorette parties a single day can turn into a much bigger commitment of time and money – sometimes too much for a single budget. While having to admit you’re unable to partake in all the festivities can leave you feeling vulnerable and embarrassed, it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Plus, you can still celebrate and contribute to the wedding in a meaningful way within the means of your specific budget.

Here are some tips to help you effectively on the topic of money or budgets while showing your support:

Talk about it early and honestly

Perhaps the simplest but most intimidating piece of advice is to open up the lines of the communication – sooner rather than later. Take time to give the congratulatory high-fives and hugs, but don’t wait until the last minute to bring up the topic of your potentially limited budget. The longer you put it off, the more likely it will seem like a feeble excuse, or cause feelings of discomfort and guilt in the bride or groom. For instance, if you wait until right before the plane takes off for Vegas to mention that you can’t afford the bachelorette party, the conversation will likely do more emotional harm than good.

Along with addressing the topic early, be honest. There’s no need for a hyper-detailed, play-by-play account of your bank account. Just take a private moment with them to acknowledge that being strapped for cash doesn’t diminish your excitement in any way. Then, honestly lay out the way your current budget might limit your attendance.  Showing up to each and every event might seem like the only option to show your support, but that’s not the case. Even if they seem disappointed initially, your friends and family will understand! They wouldn’t want you to open a line of credit or sink into debt simply to attend.

Come to the table with a pre-planned compromise

At the risk of making wedding talk sound like a multi-million dollar deal, counteroffers and compromises are great ways to participate in an event even when you find it necessary to check the “unable to attend” box. For example, in lieu of attending a pricey destination bachelor party, offer to set up a special date to celebrate the groom one-on-one. Suggest a time, place, and ideas for a get-together to make up for the fact that you can’t be a part of the celebration. If you can’t make it due to the cost of travel, then set-up a special Skype date to talk about the wedding planning, rehash the details or simply have some normal, quality conversation amidst potential whirlwinds of wedding planning. Think of it as an opportunity to think about what would make them feel extra special, and get creative with the alternatives.

Also, if your financial circumstances don’t give you the flexibility to join in every single one of the extra festivities, a compromise might be a great way to join in where you can. It’s entirely OK to make decisions based on what you can reasonably do without exceeding your financial limits. Instead of stretching yourself thin by attending the engagement party, the bridal shower, AND the bachelorette, choose one or two. It’s also perfectly reasonable to ask the bride or groom which one they’d like to see you at most. Maybe they’ll want more support at the engagement party, or maybe they’d prefer to have you sing a duet at their karaoke bachelorette party.

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Keep energy in the conversation

People often dislike talking about their financial circumstances because of all the emotions that are stirred up. Guilt, shame, sadness and anger just to name a few – none of which are generally associated with a successful and happy wedding. However, that’s not to say that talking about money needs to prompt those feelings. Hearing something like: “I’m sorry I won’t be able to join you at your engagement party, but I’m so excited for the wedding day!” is infinitely easier to hear than something like: “Going to your engagement party would bankrupt me.”

If you approach the conversation with a negative attitude, it’s more likely to result in negative emotions. Keep your conversation energized and optimistic. Highlight the excitement rather than focus on your potential disappointment or frustration with the cost. Maintaining an upbeat and positive tone will help you to avoid weighing down the decline with negative emotions.

Be genuine

It sounds cliche but the trick to showcasing your love and support isn’t in how much you spend. Sure, you can’t exactly gift-wrap your positivity but sincerity and honesty demonstrate that you respect their time. By opening yourself up to financial conversations, you’ll be setting the boundaries for reasonable expectations on both ends.

Image Credit: Angelo DeSantis

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