How to have the difficult money conversation about a friend’s wedding

Financial pressure puts strains on relationships (Picture: Getty/

So, you’ve got the invite.

Your friend is about to get married and experience one of the best days of their life.

You couldn’t be happier for them – but panic quickly sets in.

On top of fuel costs, rent and general living expenses, you struggle to see where you will get the money to fund the nuptials.

Because weddings don’t come cheap.

From the hen party and the outfit to the hair and accommodation (not to mention the gift), it all adds up and financial stress is inevitable.

This is only exasperated when the wedding is a destination ceremony and flights come into the mix.

Situations like as this can cause strain on relationships – but how do you approach the conversation with a friend?

Open and honest

Claire Thompson, senior wedding consultant for The Wedding Travel Company, says to wait for the chat a little white after invitations are sent out.

‘Wait because the bride and groom are likely in talks with all of their guests, receiving replies to their RSVPs, and immediately might not be the right time to have the conversation,’ she explains.

‘You have been invited to the wedding because you matter to the couple, and so you should hopefully be met with understanding when expressing concerns about being able to afford to attend their wedding.

‘Whether or not you’re comfortable enough to discuss your financial pressures with the couple will likely depend on how close you are with them. But at the end of the day, a couple will know that flying abroad for a wedding or staying in hotels isn’t going to be doable for everyone, especially high costs are involved.

‘Reasonable people would rather you be honest.’

To have a healthy and honest conversation about money with the bride or groom, Claire says the best policy is honesty.

Be open and respectful but do aim to make your concerns clear.

Be clear

‘Approach the subject with caution, an open mind, and be honest,’ she advises.

‘If you’re close friends or family with the couple you’ll already know of their plans before invites are sent out, and it might be worth having the conversation beforehand, so they’re aware. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re a part of the wedding, such as a bridesmaid or groomsman, as this will have an impact on what plans are made.

‘They also might be willing to alleviate some of the cost for you, although you shouldn’t expect this. It’s better to have this conversation in person or over the phone, as opposed to text.

‘There are lots of discounts available when booking package weddings abroad that large groups can benefit from, so make sure you have all the information from the couple before you make your decision. Ask them if there are any other ways costs can be reduced.’

Liz Taylor, CEO of luxury wedding and event planners the Taylor Lynn Corporation, agrees and says to be transparent about the financial stress on you.

‘Tell them about the tricky financial pressures that you are under,’ she says.

‘I would be honest and tell them how much of a dilemma this has been and how you really don’t want to let them down. But the financial situation has placed limits on your social activities, and this is the case with the wedding.

‘The costs of travel, accommodation, outfits, and gifts is more than you can afford and so you may be unable to attend or – importantly – may need to compromise on how you can be part of the event.’

Other ways to show your love

Liz urges people to remember that there are many ways in which you can show your love for the couple.

‘I would offer another way to show your appreciation and love for the couple or be a part of certain elements of the wedding,’ she says. ‘Maybe you agree to attend the ceremony, and not the evening reception to avoid accommodation costs. Or to send a gift but not attend the wedding itself to avoid travel and clothing bills.

‘You could suggest that instead of spending on gifts and being there on the day, you help to create something for the wedding instead. For example, design the floral displays if the couple can provide the flowers, and you’re green-fingered of course.

‘Offer to help them put the wedding favours together. In short, explore ways you can be a part of the celebration, without the burden of costs, which I think will be appreciated.’

Liz also notes that couples can do their bit to help too and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

More: Weddings

‘If many of their friends can’t make the wedding, couples have often held a simple pre-wedding gathering instead,’ she explains. ‘A small event in the couple’s home or a local pub/restaurant, somewhere everyone can relax and enjoy being together.

‘It’s an occasion that has huge meaning to those who can’t afford to attend, but comes without a large price tag for the couple.’

If it just isn’t possible for you to attend, Claire says it’s a difficult thing to accept but remember it’s perfectly OK and there is no shame in it.

‘It’s going to become a lot more coming over the coming months and years,’ she explains.

‘It’s a shame to miss out and will be hard on you and your loved ones but people shouldn’t feel pressured to go beyond their financial means in order to attend.’

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