Wedding Party

Thinking about a big fancy bridesmaid proposal?

It's not just the ladies on this site who think big fancy bridesmaid "proposal" gestures are a bad idea. This letter also shows why you should ask people's budgets and not ask that they pay for lots of expensive things. This is a letter from a recent Dear Prudence advice column.

Q. Bridesmaids: I have a friend who is getting married this summer. She hinted that she was going to ask me to be a bridesmaid. She has expensive taste, and I am on a budget, so I spoke to her privately and told her that I can’t afford to be in her wedding. She seemed bummed but didn’t say much else. A few weeks later, in front of friends, she gave me a gift and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I was totally caught off guard, not to mention embarrassed to turn this down in front of other people, so I said yes with every intention of making it work. Over the course of the next week, she started scheduling all of our hair/nail/makeup appointments and picked our (really expensive) dress. It was clear we were all responsible for paying for these, in addition to her luxurious out-of-town bachelorette party. It was going to cost each of us over $1,000, and I started to panic. I finally got the courage to back out of being in the wedding. For what it’s worth, it was within a week of her asking. I offered to help with other things, like setting up or helping to get the invitations addressed and mailed, but she won’t speak to me. Was I wrong to back out of this commitment? Also, am I supposed to return the gift that she gave me when she asked me to be in her wedding?

A: You did nothing wrong by doing exactly what you told your friend you were going to do. She put you in an uncomfortable situation by pretending to understand when you said you couldn’t afford to be in her bridal party, publicly asked you to be her bridesmaid in a way that would have embarrassed you to decline, then immediately started asking you to spend money on clothes, makeup, and travel. Your friend’s request was selfish, and her response to your (very kind!) offer to help plan her wedding without going into debt over it has been petulant and childish in the extreme. You can return the gift if you’d like, but don’t feel guilty for a minute.


Re: Thinking about a big fancy bridesmaid proposal?

  • Not quite the same, but I had a b/f who kept talking about proposing to me...even though I'd told him I wasn't ready.

    I feared he was going to spring it on me in public to coerce a "yes".  I totally planned that I would say "yes", because I didn't want him to force me being embarrassed.  And then just tell him "no", as soon as we had a more private moment that day.  Fortunately, he never did that.

    Sounds like the LW did a version of that, though initially hoping she could make it work, and she should feel zero guilt about it.  I'd bet dollars to doughnuts her friend would have been even more pissed if she'd publicly turned her down at the moment she was asked.  

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • The bridesmaid proposals can be cute and I have been on the receiving end of a few that I really liked. However, I just asked my bridesmaids individually in private because I would rather spend the money on their gift for being in the wedding. I was also thinking about writing a note with each bridesmaids gift that they will receive at the rehearsal dinner to tell them thank you for always being there for me and how much they each mean to me. 
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