Fighting Financial Pressure from Friends

Right now, I’m on my first-ever visit to Ithaca, New York. I’m attending my third wedding in the past month. These three weddings have taken me to three different states and three different time zones. My girlfriend and I just got another invite to a sorority sister’s upcoming nuptials this fall and had the same first thought: “Do we have to?”

Our friends and family are important to us and we want to support each one of them on their special day. But with plane tickets, hotel rooms, time off work, and modest gifts, these weddings are adding up.

On top of that, while we’ve been gone, we’ve both received a lot of text messages from friends back home eager to get together when we return to hear about our travels. After budgeting for all our trips this summer, it means we won’t have as much disposable income as most of our friends.

We want to be at the wedding. We want to hang out with friends, but when is saying “no” more appropriate and how can we make sure we don’t overspend on the always seemingly harmless drink invite from friends?

One Wedding Too Many
I came across a wedding etiquette book in a used bookstore on The Commons here in Ithaca and read a section about saying no to wedding invites.

The book recommend a handwritten card addressed to the bride wishing them every happiness and apologizing for not being able to make it. Okay. Great. For distant relatives and friends from college I haven’t seen since, this seems like a great option. But for those close friends, a card seems lacking.

I asked the bride and groom here in Ithaca how some of the folks who couldn’t make it went about informing the couple. They did get a lot of cards, some gifts, and one long drawn out phone call.

One of the groomsmen had a baby on the way and couldn’t financially make the trip happen. He called the groom and expressed his regret and explained the situation: a trifecta of a recent medical bill, student loan repayments, and a pregnant wife made the trip impossible. He apologized profusely. The groom was disappointed, but said candidly to me, “Honestly, I have 150 other people here with us to concentrate on…”

There shouldn’t be fear of financial ruin behind these smiles…


As for as my friends back home, most are receptive to hearing that my girlfriend and I are saving to pay off her student loans and stashing money for our next step after she finishes grad school.

I find that by making our goals explicit, it usually serves to reduce the pressure from others to spend. We find that by bringing our mindfulness about spending into the conversation, it encourages others to take a look at their spending habits as well. We find that with sincerity, conversations about money don’t have to be uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, what’s most important is the time spent together, and not how much money goes into the event.

Happy Hours and Empty Wallets
Our friends like a good happy hour. Cheap prices and good food lead to a quick decompress after a day at work. However, one drink and an appetizer too quickly becomes two of each, and before dinner is even served, your weekly budget for nights out is gone. Here are some ways to cope with spending in social situations:

  • Low-cost or no-cost activities. Find a nearby hiking trail. Head to a body of water. Look up free events in your area. Grab a deck of cards. Pick up a crowd pleasing board game (I could play Apples to Apples for days). If your friends want to go see the new Batman, suggest going to a cheaper matinee, or better yet, invite them over for a review party of the first two off Netflix. They want to go out, come up with a restaurant you can afford, or better yet, have a potluck.


  • Leave the plastic at home. If you can only afford one drink at happy hour, only take $5, $10, or $20 and leave the rest at home. If you don’t have any other money with you, you can’t spend it. This isn’t to say stiff your friends with the bill, but have your cheap drink, enjoy the conversation, and leave enough for tip.


  • Reduce the frequency. I used to have dinner with my friends every week after the yoga class we took together. I learned to say yes some of the time, but opt out most of the time. By only going once a month instead of every week, I cut my spending by 75% just by walking my friends home after class. If they want to get together every week, start a book club, or find a different no-cost activity.


  • Don’t keep tabs. It’s hard to not partake in a second round. It’s hard not to get the newest gadget. It’s hard not to focus on the stuff, what those closest to you have. Instead, focus on the relationships. Make sure your friends feel supported, listened to, and cared for. It doesn’t help anyone for you to envy your friend’s new shoes, new car, or new house. Don’t make it a competition. Do what’s best for you, and take care of those around you with what you do have.

Saying “no” to friends is a hard financial reality for most. You want to be generous with your time and money but many of us are working with limited resources. On the flip side of the coin, if you’re financially well-off, be mindful that your friends might not be in the same situation. Work with them to come up with activities that are fun and comfortable for everyone.

And brides and grooms, everyone loves a party. Trust that a nay-response isn’t a slight against you. We’d be there if we could.

It’s easy for financial barriers to get in the way of friendships. Whatever your situation, remember that those around you are all working with their own particular circumstances. When it comes to financial realities, do what’s right for you. Be open, honest, and give freely to friends the resources you do have, whether that be a listening ear, some tea and sympathy, or an idle afternoon.

More about...Psychology

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There are 87 comments to "Fighting Financial Pressure from Friends".

  1. Lance @ Money Life and More says 09 August 2012 at 04:11

    Saying no to friends is definitely hard. In the case of weddings I would personally understand but with happy hours just be careful you don’t say no too much. If you do you could find yourself not getting asked to go anymore because you always say no. I often went to happy hours after work when I worked in DC and didn’t buy anything at all! Just got a glass of water and left a couple dollar tip for the server.

    • Justin @ The Family Finances says 09 August 2012 at 05:09

      I agree with Lance that while declinging an invite to social hour after work is certainly acceptable, you need to make a point not to “always” decline. Those relationships with your co-workers and supervisors are important, and social hour and similar activities are great ways to connect and build up those relationships outside of the office.

    • Sam says 09 August 2012 at 06:19

      I agree, this goes for lunch with work people as well. I go out to lunch once a week with my work peers (they go out three or four times a week).

    • Holly says 09 August 2012 at 06:28

      ITA about not saying no to often. But there’s no reason that you can’t suggest the book club, or a rotating after-yoga drink at each other’s home.

    • Kathleen @ Frugal Portland says 09 August 2012 at 13:19

      What is it about DC and their happy hours? I have never been to more bars than when I lived there!

  2. William @ Drop Dead Money says 09 August 2012 at 04:40

    It is a minefield, no question about it.

    I’ve observed that over time you can afford to get pickier about who your friends are. The kind that don’t put financial pressure on you just are nicer to be around more often. My wife and I intentionally extracted ourselves from friendships that are chronically hard on the wallet.

    Just like with marriage, friendship relationships need compatibility on many issues and topics. And money is not a trivial one.

    The good news is there are plenty of good people out there who have figured out that fun and spending don’t need to be synonymous. Prime friend material! 🙂

    • Holly@ClubThrifty says 09 August 2012 at 09:38

      I totally agree. Some relationships that revolve around spending money probably aren’t worth it.

      At the same time, I have lifelong friends that are chronic overspenders. Those relationships are important to me so I almost always try to fit and outing with them into my budget. Some friendships are just worth it.

      • Rosa says 10 August 2012 at 12:00

        my lifelong overspender friends are happy to do cheap stuff with me occasionally, though. It’s the people who can’t imagine anything that doesn’t involve spending who I can’t keep a friendship with.

        Like when a mom friend invites you to the park and after 5 minutes is all “okay, time to go buy coffee!” I used to say “my kid needs outside time, maybe we’ll see you after coffee.” but then she criticized my parenting (“don’t let your kid run your life! Have a spine!”). Saying “sorry, I can’t afford it” got criticism too. So I just started saying “no” to all her invites.

  3. Terri says 09 August 2012 at 04:46

    If you don’t want to be broke, like your friends probably are, then just say no. Are these really friends or drinking buddies?

    Seems like a no brainer to me.

  4. Tom says 09 August 2012 at 05:03

    My wife and I have 4 weddings to attend this year, and one or both of us are in the bridal party for 3 of them!
    We lucked out in that 3 of 4 were local enough that we didn’t need the hotel, and 2 out of 3 didn’t require a tux rental or bridesmaid dress purchase. Also we thankfully had plenty of notice to help budget for gifts, travel, and all the other little things that add up when all is said and done.

  5. Kate says 09 August 2012 at 05:22

    While in the past my inclination was to straight up decline if it didn’t fit perfectly with my timing, interest or finances, I’ve now spent a few years really trying to strengthen the relationships I already have.

    One of things that I’ve discovered is the importance of showing up. Not just the cocktail happy hours, but those life events that aren’t so important to you, but are really important to the other people involved.

    Ex: the bris or Brit Milah, aka circumcision ceremony for a newborn Jewish baby boy. It can only be on the 8th day after birth (with specific exceptions), so it’s not like you can pre-book flights, etc. and save a few bucks. It inevitably costs a fortune, but it’s also usually very, very important to the new parents.

    And of course weddings. It’s not just destination weddings that can bbe expensive. Sometimes people move, and you want to maintain the friendship and be there, or you’re e one who moves, whether for work or family or whatever, and the wedding is back where you grew up.

    Or death. Ugly topic, to be sure. But if your best friend’s husband or child dies unexpectedly, you need to be there.

    I’ve been experimenting with an idea for a few years now to save my budget, and it was also mentioned in a presentation during the WDS: have a “showing up” budget. Recognize that these relationships are also an investment, and plan for them.

    • Holly says 09 August 2012 at 06:29

      I love this idea!

  6. Carole says 09 August 2012 at 05:24

    When you get married how will you expect your friends to react? What goes around comes around, so the decisions you make now about attending weddings will also apply to your own wedding. It is something to consider.

    • Sam says 09 August 2012 at 06:21

      I think that is true too. I am the one that moved away, but since I made it a point to fly home for almost all the weddings of my close friends, they all showed up at my wedding (and two of them had newborns at home).

      Some of them even mentioned that, of course we would come to your wedding you made such an effort to come to all of ours . . .

    • Sara says 09 August 2012 at 06:45

      That is very true! But if coming to your wedding causes them financial hardship…would you really want them to come?

      I’ve had three weddings this summer, and I can’t get to a single one of them. But I’ve sent a gift, went through and admired all the pictures for the two that are over, and spent countless hours as a sympathetic ear on the phone. I don’t think it makes me a bad friend not to go, and I haven’t seen any sign they think so either! LOL

    • Elizabeth says 09 August 2012 at 07:23

      Just to play devil’s advocate here: if you want people to come to your wedding, make it affordable and accessible! I had to turn down a destination wedding and a weekend-long black tie wedding.

      Thankfully, both couples held a related event (a reception or a pre-wedding luncheon) for people they knew wouldn’t be able to attend. I thought that was a lovely way to include people.

    • Rosa says 10 August 2012 at 12:02

      I would hate it if a lot of people came to an event for me just because they felt obligated. Even less so if it was causing them money, time, or relationship stress. Why cause your friends to suffer just to prove they love you?

      We had our wedding downtown on a weekday afternoon and invited people who could come on their lunch hour. Then we took them out to lunch. It was nice. No stress on anyone. We had fun.

  7. TB at BlueCollarWorkman says 09 August 2012 at 05:24

    It’s also hard when you say ‘no’ and give a financial reason and friends say, “Oh, we’re all dealing with that, come let loose anyway!”

    I think back in the day when families weren’t so spread out and people didn’t move away so much, it was easier to attend lots of weddings, but now-a-days it’s just unreasonable to expect. We can’t all afford planes and hotels and gifts and an open bar…

    • Marcia C. says 09 August 2012 at 06:58

      A few years back my nephew from St. Louis decided to have an elaborate wedding in Las Vegas. The bride & nearly all of the guests were from St. Louis, too. A number of people did attend, but I told my sister that we were unable to attend due to finances. I would have loved to have gone, but she and my nephew understood completely. They knew that a number of family and friends would be unable to attend because of the distance & cost. My nephew and his bride had a wonderful wedding, and the wedding that they wanted, which was great!

      A few months later the couple decided to have another, less-fancy reception. This time it was held in St. Louis, so that we could all celebrate. It all worked out!

  8. Eileen says 09 August 2012 at 05:31

    I think this is really a transition and age/peer group thing.

    If being in HS and keeping up with the latest fads/trends/music/whatever is on one end of the spectrum, then ‘not giving a rip’ is on the other. I think as we (and our friends) age, you just start to define your own identity and focus. And once you add kids to the mix, things change dramatically.

    I think if you are even thinking about the costs of these social events (and how they fit into your overall financial goals/needs), you are ahead of the game. Most people probably look at them as req’d expenses and whip out the plastic to pay for them (I’m sure I did at that age).

  9. Stephanie @ Empowered Dollar says 09 August 2012 at 05:56

    Being honest has been a huge help with me when I have to deal with spend-happy friends. I’ve let them all know that I’m in “money saving mode” and I’d appreciate if we came up with some wallet-friendly alternatives to going out and dropping $60 on a Friday night.

  10. Grace says 09 August 2012 at 06:01

    I am a big sucker for happy hour, and I always get by when I go out with friends by bringing a $10 or a $20 and sticking to that. A lot of my friends similarly seek to get the most bang for our buck, so I rarely feel too much of a pressure to spend.

    In my area there are a number of good cheap restaurants which are also BYOB, so that is another way we get by “going out” but really paying $5 for a giant burrito and $5 for a six pack of yuengling. It’s the life, really.

    • DanM53 says 09 August 2012 at 08:52

      My guess is that you are in…let’s see, BYOB…Yeungling…must be…Pennsylvania!

      • grace says 09 August 2012 at 15:25

        close – NJ! could beer ever be that cheap in PA?

  11. Sheryl says 09 August 2012 at 06:05

    If happy hours are a big deal my suggestion is have the friends come over for drink, crack a cheap bottle of wine or have the makings of a favourite cockail or two.

    As far as weddings go, yes it sucks not to be able to go and yes the bride and groom might be sad, but at the end of the day you have to watch out for your own best interests financially. Down the line have the happy couple over for a nice dinner and ask them to tell you about their day. It’s really seeing friends that matters, not the where or how.

  12. Sam says 09 August 2012 at 06:17

    I can remember the years of multiple weddings. I had moved away from home for professional school and didn’t move back. I was either a very poor graduate student or a poor person trying to pay of my loans.

    But, my friends and family are the most important thing to me so I made many a trip home for weddings when I could least afford it. This is what I did during that time. I declined being in any weddings except for my very closest friends (so that was only one during my poorest days) which cut out a lot of costs including the costs associated with showers, pre wedding festivities, bridesmaid dresses, etc. If I paid for a ticket to fly to your wedding I didn’t get you a gift (at that time). There is no rule that you have to give gifts and I found that my friends were more excited to have me in attendance than a gift. Also, since then I have gotten some friends delayed wedding gifts, 5 or 10 years later. I doubled up on hotel rooms. I found that other friends were coming into town and arranged to share a room with them or I stayed with family (since this was home) to keep costs down. I also recycled wedding attire from wedding to wedding or event to event during that two or three year stretch of multiple weddings.

    As for socializing with friends at home, you can avoid spending a lot of money by doing pot luck dinners at home or a BBQ or drinks at someone’s home. Or do a couple of drinks at home and then head out as a group (we do that a lot since we are within walking distance to our bar district).

  13. amber says 09 August 2012 at 06:45

    One way to avoid this problem is to not have too many friends! Kidding! Also babies and dogs make for a great way to beg off of anything.

  14. SavvyFinancialLatina says 09 August 2012 at 06:51

    I think it’s funny. But out of all of our friends we are the most financially stable and probably the most frugal. While we rather do more affordable activities, sometimes our friends are the ones who want to do less affordable activities.

  15. Dogs or Dollars says 09 August 2012 at 06:52

    I’m liking this post Tim! And I like the idea of clearly communicating your goals, so everyone knows its out there. That’s a way of solidifying a relationship with sharing, and potentially get you off some expensive hooks.

    I like the grooms comment to. I mean really for large weddings there are so many people there, who has the time to take inventory of everyone? You are going to see the couple for such a brief period of time. Unless you are on my BFF list, I skip it. Send a small gift, follow up with a visit or a phone call post-facto. Listen to them gush about their day. Viola!

    • Marcia C. says 09 August 2012 at 07:20

      A visit to the newlyweds later would probably mean a lot to them!

    • Cortney says 09 August 2012 at 09:17

      I completely agree with the groom’s comment as well. Weddings are insanely busy for the bride and groom and even at ours (small at 100 people), I barely had time to see everyone for even a few minutes.

      If you’re a close enough friend that you got invited to my wedding, I want you to do what’s best for you. If you can’t make it (due to finances, lack of time off, etc), I’m disappointed, but I understand. Even if you’re not there in person, you’ll be there in spirit.

  16. Sandy says 09 August 2012 at 07:02

    I lost a friend over not inviting her for our wedding. Even though I explained to her that we simply couldn’t afford a big wedding and therefor would be limiting ourselves to close relatives and best friends only.

    After almost 4 years, this friend still refuses to talk to me. Meanwhile she’s been turned out of her house for not paying the rent and she and her 2 little ones had to move in with her parents.

    After that episode, I’m finally at peace with the loss of her friendship. I still have a roof over my head and know how to prioritize my spending. I can do without a friend like her.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • karen says 09 August 2012 at 23:59

      Your “friend” obviously didn’t respect your values

  17. Marcia C. says 09 August 2012 at 07:09

    When my kids were little we would invite another family over and “pop in” a kid-friendly movie. We’d have our own matinee at home with iced tea and popcorn.

  18. EMH says 09 August 2012 at 07:10

    One of the ways I try to save money but still carve out time with friends is to go on lunch “dates” instead of dinner and drinks. Lunch is usually cheaper and I may get a glass or two of wine or beer at lunch but I am not going to party in the middle of the afternoon. For some reason, a manhattan in my hand doesn’t feel right if it is still light out!

  19. Bob says 09 August 2012 at 07:26

    I find that explicit goals based on personal values are easier to reach and it helps me in my decision making on when to say “no” and when to say “yes”.

    • Marcia C. says 09 August 2012 at 08:23

      Right! I have to keep my eye on the ball. I’m no spring chicken and I need to get my mortgage paid off! That definitely affects many decisions.

  20. Sarah says 09 August 2012 at 08:33

    I’m at the stage in my life where I’m being invited to tons of weddings and it does get super expensive. However, I am a strong believer that showing up is such an important part of maintaining relationships. These relationships make me so much happier than acheiving any of my other financial goals ever could. Simply put, I will not miss these events if I can help it. Being able to attend without putting it on my credit card is a major motivation for me to budget for both expected and unexpected events.

    That being said, I try to keep everything as affordable as possible. We often drive instead of flying, share hotel rooms with other friends (sometimes we sleep on an air mattress), and I rarely buy any new clothes for the occasion unless I’m in the wedding. Oh, and instead of buying a full-priced toaster/blender/crockpot from Macy’s, go on Amazon and get the same thing for half the price! Then call up Macy’s and have them mark the gift as fufilled on the registry. With some effort, you really don’t have to spend a fortune! Same principle applies to happy hour. Get one drink and eat at home. The few bucks you spend is well worth it to keep up relationships, IMO.

  21. Kristin at KlingtoCash says 09 August 2012 at 08:35

    Most of my friends are all on a frugal kick right now. When we get together, it is generally at a friend’s house and everyone brings something to share. It keeps the cost down and we all have a good time. It’s much cheaper to buy a bottle of wine or a 6-pack and bring it to a friend’s house than to purchase it out. We all bring food as well.

  22. Honey Smith says 09 August 2012 at 08:45

    We had fewer than 30 people at our wedding and I still felt like I talked to most people for less than 10 minutes. I think most couples expect that 2/3 of the invitees aren’t going to be able to make it. I certainly would have loved it if more people were able to come, but I didn’t spend a lot of time analyzing why people didn’t come or putting pressure on them.

    If there had been someone we really wanted there who couldn’t afford it, we would have budgeted to help pay for that person. When my best friend got married I lived 2000 miles away and couldn’t afford a plane ticket so she paid for that, and I paid all the other costs.

    • Lee says 09 August 2012 at 09:26

      You would budget to pay for a guest to attend? Didn’t you just write an article on how your entire wedding is on credit cards?

      • Honey Smith says 09 August 2012 at 09:30

        Our entire wedding wasn’t paid for with credit cards. And I didn’t budget to pay for anyone. But if my sister had not been able to afford to attend, yes, I would have paid to have her there, even on credit.

        • Terri says 09 August 2012 at 10:21

          Regardless of whether your credit card debt is from your wedding or whatever, you are in no position to pay for other people’s travel or anything else. I know this is hypothetical, but if your sister wouldn’t put your wedding on her credit card, why would you?

          I think you and your husband are in serious denial, and I hope you stick around GRS and continue to update us on any progress you make in your finances and in your state of mind.

        • Honey Smith says 09 August 2012 at 10:37

          If my sister had not been able to afford to come, it would have been because of medical bills (she was in a really severe accident several years ago, was in a coma for some time and had many reconstructive surgeries after that) combined with her school expenses (she was so grateful for the care she received that now she’s in nursing school).

          Fortunately it wasn’t necessary! Our wedding was driving distance for her and my dad, which is part of the reason we chose the venue we did.

        • Terri says 09 August 2012 at 13:26

          I really mean no disrespect. I don’t even know you, but your story is very troublesome. I truly hope you get the help you so desperately need.

        • Honey Smith says 09 August 2012 at 13:30

          Thanks! I really do appreciate everyone’s feedback and am taking everything into consideration even if I appear resistant. Path dependence is a challenge to overcome! But I am working hard at this 🙂

        • Samantha says 09 August 2012 at 21:32

          Honey, this is why people are so frustrated with your comments. You said that you would have paid for “a person” or “someone” to attend your wedding. Then, when you were challenged about the rationality of paying for a guest when part of your wedding was on credit, you changed it from “a person” or “someone” to your sister specifically, and shared her very sympathetic story. Your sister’s situation sounds very difficult, and wanting her at your wedding is sweet, but it has nothing at all to do with your comment. You said that despite the fact that your wedding was partially on credit, and despite all your and your husband’s debt, you would have personally paid for a guest to make the trip to your wedding if they could not afford it and you wanted them there. The opinion that that is not a sound financial decision is a fair one.

        • Lee says 15 August 2012 at 17:35

          Good grief – let it go. She’s human. Those who never, ever, ever make a financial screw-up, feel free to sling mud. Otherwise, hush up. She’s trying to get ahead, and is brave enough to share her foibles, unlike many of you finger-waggling naysayers. Enough!

    • Holly says 09 August 2012 at 16:23

      From what I’ve seen, 2/3 saying no is a pretty high percentage. For my upcoming wedding we ended up with 40% saying no, and based on friends’ experiences I think that is more typical.

      • Rosa says 10 August 2012 at 12:07

        I think it depends on how accessible your wedding is. One of my siblings is getting married this winter, and wanted everyone to go on a very expensive cruise with them and have the wedding on the ship. Only 2 people are doing that, out of however many they invited (9 on our side of the family, I don’t know how many on the in-law side.)

  23. sarah says 09 August 2012 at 08:50

    I don’t think it’s necessary or even advisable to make your goals explicit. Telling someone “I can’t come to your wedding because I want to pay off my student loans” opens up a whole can of worms – better to say you just can’t make it. People will understand.

    On the other hand, I don’t really want to hear that someone’s student loans are more important than our friendship – even if that’s not really what they’re saying. Besides, then I can start thinking about all the other things I’ve seen them spend money on (vacations, fancy jeans…) and wonder where I rank.

    I’ve missed weddings I really wished I could have gone to, I’ve spent tons on weddings I didn’t particularly want to go to (including 1 wedding where we spent more just attending and being in it than we did on our own entire wedding), and I’ve spent good money to go to some awesome/meaningful weddings clear across the country as well as abroad. I have never had anyone give me a hard time for missing their wedding.

    • SV says 12 August 2012 at 12:03

      I agree with you about sending regrets.

      I guess I am in the minority here on weddings, but you are talking about the most important event in your friend or family member’s life that they are asking you to attend. So, I say go if you can.

      If you can’t go, either have an unasailable excuse or simply express your regrets and wish the couple happiness. If you say you can’t afford to attend, it opens up a whole – can’t afford the wedding but can afford ____ line of stuff.

      Anyway, just my opinion.

  24. Edward says 09 August 2012 at 09:03

    While I have no trouble telling friends “No,” for happy-hour, I consider a wedding a lot different. Even if you find weddings boring, pretentious, an all-around drag, and don’t even like the couple that much, it’s still an honour that they invited you. (It generally means you made the short list titled, “Most Important People In Their Lives”.) And, unlike happy-hour, you may have occasional regrets in the future about not going to a wedding to show support for your friends.

    But you can find some relief in the fact that this is a temporary “hump” that happens in your mid-20s. There won’t be anywhere near as many for you to attend in a decade.

    • Lee says 09 August 2012 at 09:28

      Yes, the wedding invites always seem to come at once and then drop off. As a rule unless I’m otherwise committed or there is a real financial strain I say yes to weddings, no to second (and third) weddings, yes to first baby showers, no to any showers after the first one, and no no no to engagement parties, jack and jills, and all the other unneccessaries.

    • Rosa says 10 August 2012 at 12:10

      This is a terrible social dynamic.

      Couple thinks: we have to invite all these people or their feelings will be hurt!

      Invitees think: we have to go or they will think we don’t like them!

      it’s stupid, and it causes a lot of grief (and overspending) on both sides. Weddings are events, not awards or honors or scorecards of who’s important to who.

  25. CPALady says 09 August 2012 at 09:11

    Pretty good advice here. When we got married we had several out of town friends who were not able to attend and I completely understood and didn’t hold it even a little bit against them.

    It was actually a point of discussion for us. Do we invite people we’re fairly certain can’t attend, but who we very much want to be there and risk them feeling pressured to attend? Or do we not invite them and risk them feeling slighted?

    So it’s hard for both the guests AND the bridal couple. Weddings can get complicated, but remembering that these are your nearest/dearest (hopefully) and being open and honest with people helps with most of it.

  26. Lucille says 09 August 2012 at 09:17

    I find saying “no” is the most economical option!

  27. Carla says 09 August 2012 at 09:23

    Sounds like a good problem to have. The last wedding I was invited to was almost 10 years ago and would LOVE to attend a wedding, any wedding. 😀

    I like the Happy Hour suggestions though. Thankfully my entertainment/eating out budget helps me deal with those situations.

    • Olga says 09 August 2012 at 12:53

      Ha, my thoughts exactly! I wish we were invited to a wedding, but that’s highly unlikely.

      • Carla says 09 August 2012 at 13:42

        I wonder how so many people know so many people who are getting married. I was the the last person in my immediate family to get married (now divorced) 13 years ago and none of my siblings are married. The last wedding in my extended family was in 1997.

        • Rosa says 10 August 2012 at 12:15

          I’m nearly 40 and grew up in a working-class area, so many of my school friends got married when we were all 18-23. Then lots of them got divorced and remarried about 10 years later. My partner grew up in a middle-class suburb of a big city, so his friends all got married between 25-30. Also he’s from a really big family and the oldest of a bunch of cousins, so there’s been about one wedding a year for the last decade or so.

          We get invited to about 2 weddings a year, on a pretty constant basis. We’re actually missing a really nice family wedding this weekend because it’s on the west coast.

  28. Andrew says 09 August 2012 at 09:39

    Just be thankful your presence won’t be required at the divorce decree!

  29. Holly@ClubThrifty says 09 August 2012 at 09:43

    Peer pressure is everywhere! I think it’s important to just be honest with someone when a particular outing isn’t in your budget. At the same time, I don’t think that too many details are necessary.

  30. Jim says 09 August 2012 at 10:43

    That photo might be the whitest thing that I have ever seen in my entire life.

  31. RichUncle EL says 09 August 2012 at 10:50

    I think with the advance notice people tend to get, you can pick at most two weddings in a year to attend, but if you are that famous and must attend all the invites in a year then get ready to shell out a lot of dough. Destination weddings are the worse of scenarios for the guests, but great for the bride and groom’s bottom line. If it’s a brother or sister then it is an obligation to attend but if it is a sorority sister, frat brother, or second cousin I’m sure they will be fine without you.

    • Sarah says 10 August 2012 at 19:13

      Agreed. Destination weddings put an unnecessary burden on guests which I find to be incredibly tacky.

  32. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says 09 August 2012 at 10:51

    Oh man! I hear you on wedding season and wallet woes. I already had to turn down one wedding this summer, we’ve still got three more to go to and are already planning on three next summer. I think pacing yourself and getting nice, small and thoughtful gifts are key. Not to mention bridal showers and bachellorette parties.

  33. Bob J says 09 August 2012 at 15:05

    Just say no.

  34. DebtKiller says 09 August 2012 at 15:05

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Assuming most of your friends are within a 5 year span of yourself, you can expect the wedding invites to eventually slow down. My soon-to-be-ex-wife and I had four weddings the same year we were married, including one a week before. It’s difficult to say no to close friends, old college roommates, etc. But after two to three years of being blasted by weddings, they eventually stopped. Now? Huh…haven’t been to a wedding in two years. It’s kinda nice on the wallet.

  35. Budget & the Beach says 09 August 2012 at 15:27

    Great tips. If friends are good friends they will understand. I once had to say no to a wedding of a friend that was a destination wedding. I just couldn’t afford it. She never spoke to me again. Not a very understanding friend.

  36. SLCCOM says 09 August 2012 at 15:45

    I ignore the registries. I get something that is meaningful for the couple, or make something. If I don’t know them well enough to pick out something that meets their wants but isn’t on the registry, I don’t know them well enough to attend.

    Of course, I’m way beyond my friends getting married in droves!

    I’d so much rather spend time with the couple afterwards, when they and I can hear each other!

  37. Holly says 09 August 2012 at 16:15

    As a current bride-to-be (2 weeks!), I have to say that while I’m certainly disappointed that some of our friends and family can’t make it to our wedding, I am not in the slightest bit offended. Of course it’s hard for many of the out-of-state people to make it! That’s what happens when you have family and friends all over the country.

    And to be honest, it will save us money to have fewer guests. This is something to consider too – when dinner menus are $$ per person, most people don’t mind having a few less to pay for.

  38. Angie says 09 August 2012 at 16:17

    If you’re not in the bridal party how about a early morning flight, followed by a just after midnight flight. These would reduce the need for time off work and hotels (and yes, you’ll feel horrible when you eventually land the next day!) … my friend did this for a wedding she attended which was 4 hours flight away. She was happy to be there, and not overly fussed about visting the city the wedding ws held in. And with weddings you get a lot of notice, so you should be able to get flights pretty cheaply through Southwest. (Obviously this won’t work if you’re many hours drive from the nearest airport or need to do a bunch of connecting flights…. but still something to think about.)

  39. Chasa says 09 August 2012 at 18:50

    Lee – love your comment! I’ve been invited to my aunt’s third wedding. I don’t like weddings in general, but I have special angst about this third attempt. Why do I have to go!? And what does one get a 55 yr old on her third wedding? I wish I had the cajones to pass on it. Perhaps with age. . .

    • Holly@ClubThrifty says 10 August 2012 at 05:42

      I am going to a wedding reception this weekend for my 50+ cousin and his new wife. I have no idea what to get them. They have two houses and will be moving in together so I don’t think they’ll need a toaster or mixing bowls.

      I’m thinking I may get thema restaurant gift card!

    • Lee says 10 August 2012 at 08:03


      I will always get a gift or give cash to a bride or groom who marries later in life but once you pass the one wedding gift per lifetime threshold I have to say no. I had to make this a personal rule after one cousin married, divorced and remarried the same guy! Sorry but you should still have that pressure cooker from the first time around.

      I don’t mean to sound heartless or cheap, I just put things in perspective. Being unmarried in my 30’s no one has thrown me a shower to help with my expenses. Should I have married twice and had 10 showers? I would have lots of stuff by now 😛 (totally snarky and sarcastic for those who can’t read humor)

    • Kris says 10 August 2012 at 13:16

      I suspect cash always works.

  40. Greg C says 09 August 2012 at 22:47

    This makes me happy that I have, at the most, a handful of real friends. I couldn’t imagine feeling the need to travel to more than a few weddings in my lifetime or constantly field offers to go to bars or whatever. Not just a financial consideration, but all the time and other priorities ( immediate family, health,etc).

  41. KP says 10 August 2012 at 05:36

    To paraphrase Emily Post a regret does not need to be specific. So why you choose not to attend an event is not needed in the regrets. It is just important to the bride, or the host that you respond correctly with your RSVP.

    I find folks who talk about how much they sacrificed to make it to an event tiresome. If you will not be able to enjoy the event because of your other commitments (financial or family), then please send in your regrets.

    As for cheap entertainment. I am one of the few of my friends that enjoys cooking, so I cook dinner and enjoy having everyone over. I also use this as a way to make the meals that I have a difficult time making in small batches. There is no need for it to be expensive, well cooked ‘peasant’ food is always appreciated.

  42. Chasa says 10 August 2012 at 05:50

    A resteraunt gift card is actually a really good idea! Hmmm.

  43. Daisy@EverythingFinance says 10 August 2012 at 08:11

    Weddings are hard, because they are SO expensive (for everyone, including guests) and they are equally important. I am part of the bridal party for one that I am attending this summer, and it`s proving to be a very expensive experience. The bride is great, but she`s wanting to put us in dresses that I will never wear again (and frankly, kind of hate) and we have to foot the bill of $200. Not counting going to the wedding, bringing a gift, the gift for the bridal shower and the cost for the night out for stag, it`s very expensive.

  44. Nina says 10 August 2012 at 15:41

    I don’t have a crazy social life and am pretty happy with my few friends, so I suppose I don’t *need* to turn down the invites considering I don’t exactly have a packed week every week.

    I’m also fortunate that the few friends I do have would have no problem if I were to suggest that I seriously can’t afford something. Thankfully they’re just as frugal as I am, so that helps.

  45. Harry @ PF Pro says 12 August 2012 at 16:25

    This is very true, I think a lot of people get sucked into this. Just because your friends are spending money doesn’t mean you should too!

  46. GE says 13 August 2012 at 13:20

    Re:destination weddings

    It *amazes* me that someone thinks I will take *my* vacation time from work and use *my* vacation money to go on a vacation of *their* choosing.

    No. This trend is ridiculous.

    I can see it for family members who all get along and who view it as a great family vacation, but for freinds and fringe relatives? ummm. not.

    • Karen T. says 15 August 2012 at 13:10

      Frankly, I don’t even care for destination weddings in the family. Two of my nieces got married last year at expensive venues in states far from ours, and we were unable to attend either of them. We got a lot of grief from their parents (my husband’s brothers, who are both lawyers and make a lot more money than he — a junior high school teacher — does) and from my mother-in-law. But we simply could not afford to go, nor can my husband justify getting a substitute so we can take a week to drive to an out-of-state wedding in October. We sent very nice gifts with personal letters to the brides and grooms. I imagine our nieces had a minute’s worth of “sadness” that we weren’t there and then went back to the swanky party with all of their other guests.

  47. Taka Sande says 17 August 2012 at 07:20

    I agree. Peer pressure and pride can put a big hole in your pocket.

    Better to lose the friendship than lose your future. Whatever happens, your children will not blame your friends but you. That’s what they will remember about you.


  48. Bankruptcy Brisbane says 17 September 2013 at 21:56

    Nice Post, very well said but in concern with the Low-cost or no-cost activities.I should prefer with no-cost Activities, Because I think you can spent time with your friend happily without a cost. And as now,I suggest people to practice that behavior.Thanks again for the post

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