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July 31, 2019

Do Weddings Ruin Friendships?

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If you read forums online or sign onto Reddit’s “How many relationships did your wedding ruin?”, you will be consumed by the thousands of ways in which weddings adversely affect friendships.

My friend didn’t invite my kids or my partner to the wedding.

My best man got drunk and gave an obnoxious speech.

My MIL stole one of our cash gifts.

My friend showed up with extra guests.

My brother got engaged on stage during his speech.

All types of relationships can be redefined at a wedding — oftentimes because tensions and expectations are simply too high. Jess joined Jeff and Carolyn on The Morning Show to discuss how you can manage sticky situations related to finances and nuptials.

Check out the summary and video below.

How does the cost of weddings negatively affect friendships?

A recent study found that the financial stress of the wedding can also take a toll on close friendships with one third of bridesmaids reporting that the money associated with a friend’s wedding strained their relationship with the bride.  According to a CompareCards.com survey, a third of bridal party members incurred debt for a friend’s wedding, including 43% of maids of honour, 38% of best men, 35% of bridesmaids and 30% of groomsmen.

Other key findings include:

58% of bridesmaids and 61% of maids of honour felt pressured to spend money on bridal party-related expenses – and many say the financial pressure strained their relationship with the bride (32% of bridesmaids and 42% of maids of honour).

  • Men felt the pressure too – 43% of groomsmen and 50% who were the best man said the same.
  • Overall, 51% of all wedding party members felt pressured to spend.

A third of bridal party members incurred debt for their friend’s wedding, including a whopping 43% of maids of honour and 38% of best men. 35% of bridesmaids went into debt, and so did 30% of groomsmen.

Overall, a third of people who have been in a wedding in the last two years say they regret the money they spent on doing so. Maids of honours were most likely to regret bridal party-related expenses (44%).

68% used a credit card for bridal party expenses, and 37% charged more than $1,000 on their card. Just 20% limited their spending to under $500. Maids of honour (78%) and bridesmaids (73%) were most likely to pay with plastic.

Attire was the most expensive purchase for about a third (32%) of recent bridal party members, followed by the bachelor or bachelorette party (29%), which is no surprise given recent trends to turn what used to be one night on the town into a lavish weekend getaway. A quarter said traveling to and from the wedding was the biggest expense.

37% have declined an invitation to be in a wedding because of costs.

If you’re a bride or groom, how much can you expect from your wedding party?

You can ask for anything you’d like, but your wedding party isn’t obligated to oblige. And if you have specific expectations, don’t keep them a secret. Rather than asking them to blindly be in your wedding party, clarify the terms. I’d love for you to be in my wedding party and as part of this role, I’d like you to host the shower and attend a bachelorette party in Miami. If that sounds like an unreasonable request to make, perhaps it’s an unreasonable expectation to hold. Disagreements, disappointment and the dissolution of friendships occur because we have secret expectations that we don’t even want to admit to ourselves. If you’re afraid to say it out loud, perhaps it’s not a reasonable request.

If you’re in a wedding party and you’re not comfortable with the financial investment, how do you talk to the bride or groom?

You are not required to spend a set amount of money regardless of your financial situation. I spoke with a groom the other day who complained that his best man was being cheap. They had his bachelor party in Prague, but this groom felt that his best man should have paid for more because he is “rolling in dough”. But you are not required to spend your money on someone else’s wedding — not matter how close you are. For all you know, your friend whom you perceive as “rolling in dough” has their money tied up or is paying off medical bills. So if being a part of your wedding party comes with a financial string attached, please be clear from the onset.

If your bride or groom has not been clear, feel free to ask how much you should budget. Ask as early as possible. I know it’s uncomfortable to talk about money, but it’s not as uncomfortable as allowing the friendship to suffer to dissolve because secret expectations are not met.

If you end up arguing over expenses, how do you move forward to preserve the friendship?

Be clear that your financial constraints are not a reflection of how you feel about your friend or their upcoming wedding. Ask them to help prioritize how you can spend the money you’ve budgeted for their wedding. For example, would they rather you attend the out of town bachelor party or invest a bit more in another wedding-related event? Is there something you can do to help out that doesn’t require a financial investment? Perhaps you have a design background and can help with the invitations or perhaps you have an eye for design and can assist with the floral arrangements.

Money is not a measure of your commitment to a relationship, so you don’t need to go into debt or spend beyond your comfort zone to make a friend happy. It’s their wedding day — not yours. If they’re not being their usual rational self, afford them a bit of leeway, as wedding planning can be stressful and they may act out of character.