Q: Hi APW,
I’m in a not-so-fun situation. I’m a bridesmaid and the MOH just sent everyone in the wedding party a request for $500 each for the engagement party we held for the couple last week. Spoiler alert: most of the bridal party doesn’t have $500 each to contribute to this party. And the real kicker, for me as least, was that the budget for the party was never discussed.
I’m happy to contribute a certain amount, but definitely not $500! How do I and the rest of the bridal party communicate this to the MOH without causing a total shit-show? We also don’t want the bride to be aware that this is an issue because we don’t want to cause more stress, is that an unrealistic expectation? None of the bridesmaids have responded to her request yet. So, who’s responsible for footing the bill for this party? Is there a “good” way to approach the MOH about this?
A: Dear BB,
WELL. Being in a wedding party can be so fun, right? It’s not just wearing terrible matching t-shirts and drinking from penis straws! Nope. It’s also getting thrown into the middle of other people’s toxic family and friend drama with no life preserver.
So look. You have options here, but I’m not going to lie to you, none of them are great. But maybe one will stand out as less bad than the rest.
- The If-Only-We-All-Were-Adults Option: I’m going to guess you’ve tried some version of this already and it’s not working, and that’s why you wrote us this letter. But! In case you haven’t, the best option is to call or email the MOH directly (off of any email or text chain) and let her know you simply can’t commit to $500, you can commit to $XXX, which you are about to Venmo her. Then send her the money, and hold your boundary. (My sense is that the MOH may not like boundaries, and may throw a fit. But in that case you treat it like a toddler having a full scale tantrum: stay out of their way till they’ve had a chance to get their feelings out, and then calmly and kindly tell them that really is how it’s gonna be though.)
- The Ghosting Option: Don’t complete her request and just let the whole matter drop. I only recommend this if setting a calm but firm boundary isn’t working. If the MOH is unable to handle a boundary, ignores them, or uses them to start a higher level of drama, you may have to resort to non-response. (This is really best used AFTER you’ve told the MOH what you can spend and sent her the money.) At that point, if she can’t keep it together, you may have to ignore her communication. Or as my Southern grandmother would say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” (Note: my grandmother didn’t say much 😂.)
- The Bring In The Bride Option: Only you will know if this is the right thing to do. It will depend on the bride, her stress level, her general MO, and her relationship with both you and the MOH. But there are times where the right thing to do is send the bride a text being like, “Yo. Your MOH is being bananas, can you please tell her to cool it.” And there are times that leaving the bride out of this mess is the best gift you can give her.
- The Nuclear Option: Drop out of the wedding party. This should be your absolute last choice, I’ve tried literally everything else option, but there are moments in the shit storm that is 2021 where you realize you just can’t keep borrowing stress that isn’t yours. If you hit that point, your instinct is right to keep the drama from the bride. If you picked this option you’d tell the bride, “I’m so sorry, I love you so much and I want to be there for you in every way possible, but I’m totally overwhelmed, and I’m just not able to keep up with my commitments to the bridal party, so the most responsible decision is for me to step back from that honor.” (And, while I’m not officially recommending it, you could use a pandemic excuse if you need to, as a white lie to keep everyone’s feelings intact. You can say you can’t travel, or can’t attend a big event during the current surge… and then get her an extra extra big present.) After that you need to resist the urge to send the MOH a text that says “I’m out bitches!” with a mic drop emoji, and instead just nicely ask her to remove you from the email thread.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably noticed that all of these options are, well, kind of shitty. And I’m sorry. But sometimes suffering through other peoples’ messy family and friend dynamics is how you show true love.
Paying $500 for an engagement party you can’t afford sure ISN’T how you show love though. So notice that writing the full check isn’t an option I listed.
May boundaries be with you,