Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My best friend informed me she won’t be attending my wedding due to financial constraints. My wedding is across the country in my fiance’s hometown, so I completely understood.
Lately, she’s brought up larger purchases she’s been making and it’s really starting to grate me. I’m starting to feel like it’s less financial and more, “I don’t want to come.” She’s my closest friend; we lived together for years and constantly talked about being at each other’s weddings. I told her about the wedding location over a year ago, and that we chose to not have bridesmaids or any other wedding events to keep costs low for friends.
I don’t know how to express my hurt feelings without sounding like a crazed bridezilla trying to control every dime she spends. If it were any other person I’d be fine, but I’d move heaven and earth to be at her wedding. Can I say anything to her?
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Sure. That’s what best friends are for. If you include what you’ve included here, particularly the crazed-bridezilla concern, then a nondefensive friend will give you an honest answer.
A defensive friend will get huffy no matter what qualifiers you use, and that could dent the friendship – but you’re already choosing between two risks to the entire existence of the friendship: say nothing and risk resentment and drift from your end, or say something and risk resentment and seeya from her end. The latter at least gives both of you a chance to say your piece.
I feel the need to inoculate myself here: This is for true, best, we-tell-each-other-anything friendships. Mere pals do not get to ask why their weddings aren’t others’ financial priority.
To: Bride: I had two very close, out-of-state friends tell me they couldn’t make it to my wedding due to cost. I offered each of them a plane ticket, no strings attached, saying I’d rather save money on something else and have them there.
Forget about why your best friend doesn’t have the money, and offer her a ticket.
To: Bride: It’s not your place to tell your friends how they should spend their money. Is she supposed to deny herself for a year to attend a wedding?
A regular friend isn’t, I agree.
But this is the bride’s best friend, her partner in “constant” conversations about being there for each other.
It’s not, “I’m telling you how to spend your money,” it’s, “I thought we were the friends who’d hold bake sales if that’s what it took to fly to each other’s weddings, to mourn each other’s losses, to hold each other’s newborns, to sit with each other through chemo.” It’s one person who would deny herself for a year for an out-of-state wedding, asking the other whether those feelings are mutual.
If the feelings aren’t mutual, as some readers have suggested, then that discrepancy is there whether the bride asks the question or not – so, no harm, in asking — whereas if the feeling is mutual, then the friend gets important information and a chance to change her mind. Honesty with a best friend is a gesture of respect for the friendship.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.