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.