Miss Manners: How do you say no to being in a wedding party?

Dear Miss Manners: My wife has become friendly with my friend’s fiancee over the past two years or so, but when she asked my wife to be in her wedding party, the request came as a bit of a surprise. My wife said yes, and has been regretting it ever since.

We knew that the wedding was going to involve travel, but the list of responsibilities keeps expanding. It now includes multiple wedding dress fittings, a bridesmaid’s dress fitting, a bridal shower and a New York City bachelorette weekend — not to mention the wedding itself, also in New York. So she’s paying for two $700+ plane tickets, plus all the other gifts, dresses, travel expenses, etc.

Behind all this are dozens of planning emails that require delicate opinions and compromises, adding further stress to my wife’’ normal day-to-day work responsibilities and social schedule.

Having gone through my own “this is way too much” groomsman experience, which required way more time and money than I expected, we kept things simple for our own wedding. We did not have a wedding party, any pre-wedding showers or a gift registry, wanting to save our friends and families some time and money.

At this point, we understand that she’s committed, and we’re trying to keep a positive mind-set about everything. But looking back, given the opportunity to say “thanks, but no thanks,” she would have.

Is that possible to do without ruining the relationship? If so, how would you frame your response?

“Thank you, I feel highly honored. But please tell me what this would involve.” Followed, if necessary, by, “I’m afraid I won’t be able to manage all that. But I’ll be your most enthusiastic guest.”

Miss Manners urges all prospective bridesmaids, and groomsmen, for that matter, to have this conversation before committing. She has heard from far too many people who have agreed blindly to a situation where they lose control over their own time and money.

It shouldn’t be that way, of course. As people who are in a wedding party are presumably closely connected to the bridal couple, they should be treated as friends, not indentured servants. That means that their convenience should be considered, and their agreement must be obtained to any commitment beyond standing up at the altar.

Many couples have come to think that they are solely in charge of making arrangements — essentially dictating what auxiliary parties are to be given in their own honor. Miss Manners is gratified to hear that you and your wife are not among them.

Dear Miss Manners: Is it improper to cut food with the side of your fork?

For obscure reasons, it is actually considered better to do so — but it is not always easy.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.