My best friend is having a destination wedding and asked me to be a bridesmaid. I generally do not like the idea of traveling internationally for a wedding, but I agreed to go and be there for her. This will be the first wedding I have ever attended. It’s the first time I’m a bridesmaid, so I don’t have much experience with wedding etiquette.
Upon discussing the bachelorette party, which would include a two-night stay in a hotel and other activities, the bride told me she doesn’t expect to pay for anything. I really don’t feel comfortable with her decision and I feel like she might be asking for too much. I think that since I am already spending money to travel for her wedding, it would be considerate of her to pay for herself for the bachelorette party.
Would you please give me advice on how to handle this? I feel very strongly that I should not have to foot the bill for her, especially since I am taking time off from work. Her wedding is also right after my MBA graduation. I wanted to take a big trip to Europe as a present to myself, but I compromised that trip to be with her.
I also wanted to ask about a wedding gift. For a destination wedding, how much is an appropriate wedding gift?
Thanks so much for your help. I appreciate your time.
Being a bridesmaid, especially for the first time, can be intimidating and overwhelming, although it shouldn’t be. Sometimes there is just too much expected of bridal attendants, and you may feel that way right now. For a full rundown on your duties, check out our post, Everything You Need to Know About Being a Bridesmaid. It should help clear up some of your etiquette questions.
1. The Bachelorette Party
Who is planning the bachelorette party? Is it the bride, the attendants, or other friends? Usually, the maid of honor will take the lead and plan a bachelorette party with the other attendants. Other good friends can also throw this party, as long as it’s coordinated with the bridal party.
Bachelorette party costs are usually split among the guests, with all the guests pitching in to cover the bride’s expenses, so your friend’s expectations are not out of line. Any payment division is acceptable but should be clearly defined in advance. However, the bride should not request or plan an expensive trip and expect everyone else to foot the bill, and she should pay some of the expenses if she’s planning the party.
The bachelorette party can be anything, from relaxed drinks to a night on the town to a weekend away. When the attendants are planning the party, the budget should be considered, and it should be something everyone can afford. My daughter was a maid-of-honor for a close friend’s wedding, and the bride wanted a weekend trip to their college town. Due to the expense, my daughter had to tell her that it was not affordable for most of her bridesmaids. She then planned a more affordable local party. The bride can suggest, but it’s up to the one planning the party where it will be and how much it will cost.
It’s always best to talk about it with the bride or the other attendants. Tell the bride you care about and support her but that you can’t go into debt to attend her bachelorette party. This is another article you will find helpful: How To Plan a Bachelorette Party, Not a Guilt Trip.
2. The Wedding Gift
The wedding gift is a traditional symbol of your affection and support for the couple getting married. The fact that it’s a destination wedding does not change the fact that you should give a wedding gift. However, it will most likely change how much you can afford. The amount you should spend on a wedding gift is always tricky because there are no absolute answers. The wedding gift is based on your budget and relationship with the couple; these parameters are a matter of your personal judgment and feelings.
Many couples that plan a destination wedding, requiring additional travel expenses, will tell their attendants not to purchase a wedding gift. If your friend does not do this, try to give something you can afford, even if it’s only a small gift. Another option is to organize a group gift from all the attendants, which could help you gift something meaningful while sharing the costs.
Don’t feel like you are alone. These sticky situations are common wedding issues. Do your best to work them out and try not to let them affect your relationship with your friend.
If you have questions or comments about gift giving, baby showers, or wedding etiquette, please comment below or email [email protected].
Emails in this column are received from readers. Emails may be edited for spelling, length, and grammar or to remove sensitive information. However, we are careful not to alter the intent or content of the question.
Cheryl Seidel is the founder and President of RegistryFinder.com, an intuitive search engine that helps gift givers quickly and easily find online registries for weddings, baby showers, graduations, and more.