Make It Make Cents

I Can’t Remember The Last Time I Spent Under $1,000 On A Friend’s Wedding

How do I let go of my resentment?

My friends' weddings are so expensive and I'm sick of it.

Q: I’m a single woman in my mid-30s. In the last decade, I’ve attended about three dozen weddings, the vast majority of which required both plane tickets and a hotel. I usually write each couple a check for $100 to $200. I can’t remember the last time that a wedding cost me less than $1,000. (And that’s not including buying a dress, shoes, or getting my nails or hair done. I don’t consider those to be part of the cost of a wedding; those are optional IMO.) I’m starting to resent the amount of money I’ve poured into attending my friends’ weddings. How do I get over it? Should I be doing anything differently at the next wedding I go to?

A: This dilemma is very #relatable. When money — and the seemingly consistent stream of financial expectations that come along with wedding invites — comes into play, I completely understand your frustration.

Yes, a wedding can cost a big chunk of change for guests. It’s not wrong to want to buy a dress or get your nails done if that will help you feel your best. You deserve to look hot too! Add those costs on top of what you spend to travel to the wedding, stay at the location for one (or multiple) nights, and spend on a cash gift. It makes sense that you’d feel like you’re blowing all your money on someone else’s event.

I think we can all agree that no one cares about a wedding as much as the couple getting married. I do believe, though, that you should consider if you resent the amount of money being spent or if you resent the friend you’re spending it on.

Ask yourself: Do they show up for you in the ways that matter to you? If marriage is something you see for yourself in the future, do you think this person would spend the same for your wedding? How would you feel if they spent less? Do they celebrate you and your milestones as a single person right now?

This could mean they always buy you a thoughtful birthday gift, express how proud they are when you close on a new place, or get you a bottle of bubbly when you land a new job. It could also mean they support you in ways that have nothing to do with money.

Perhaps the resentment you feel comes from thinking they wouldn’t celebrate you in a similar way. And let’s face it: Single people don’t have many opportunities to get the same fanfare that people receive on their wedding days.

If you want to go to the wedding but sigh at the thought of stuffing an envelope with a check, don’t underestimate the wedding registry. You can probably purchase a couple of small things that cost less than what you’d normally spend. Add on a thoughtful card and you’re golden. You could also opt for something small but meaningful, like monogrammed pillowcases or a recipe book of meals you made while you were college roommates. And in some cases, especially for destination weddings, the couple might say they don’t expect gifts.

If the nups do involve travel, find ways to lessen the financial load, like saving up credit card points to use on a hotel room or splitting costs with another friend.

Maybe you do some extra budgeting and reflection before checking “yes” on the invitation. Maybe you choose to funnel what you would’ve spent on the wedding into a savings goal instead, like an account for a house downpayment or a bucket-list vacation. Maybe you implement a personal rule about how many destination weddings you can commit to each year.

Ultimately, if you think the cost will lead to ill feelings toward your friend, you can say no. Saying no to that sort of financial commitment could be a form of self-care. If it’s a close friend who would probably be surprised, give them a call to explain. You can always offer to take them out for dinner or drinks to celebrate instead.

And remember, if your friend gets mad you bought them some silverware and kitchen towels instead of dishing out a couple of Benjamins, they may not be a great friend after all.

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