Often, and I don’t want to say always, because I know that’s not the case, brides and grooms are receiving financial help from their immediate family to help fund their wedding. This is not so for the bridal party! If your bride or groom has picked out a dress that’s far beyond your budget, you need to be honest with them and let them know. Before bringing anything up with the bride or groom, find out if the store that the dress is from offers payment plans, but never go into debt for a dress you’re going to wear one time (and I said it in this article, and I’ll say it again, you will never wear the dress again).
If that’s not the case, you’ll have to let the betrothed know and ask if there are any other options and if not you should bow out of the wedding. I know that might seem drastic, but my logic here is that if you can’t afford the outfit they’ve picked out for you to wear on the day of, then you also can’t afford to contribute to all of the parties, dinners, and celebrations that’ll take place before the wedding either. Just let them know in a non-confrontational, non-blaming way. Say something like “Hey, it really means a lot to me that you invited me to a part of your wedding and I don’t take the responsibility lightly which is why I need to let you know I can’t afford to be a bridesmaid and still fulfill my responsibilities. You deserve to have someone standing with you that can be there for you in all ways and it saddens me to say that I can’t do that.”
One thing you should never do is ask the bride or groom to pay for the dress. It’s just not appropriate, even if it’s a close friend or family member.
Your bride or groom should respond in a graceful way or even offer a way for you to be a part of things without breaking you financially. That’s what good friends do. Unfortunately, people aren’t always good friends when they’re planning their wedding and you can’t hold their dreams for their big day against them. Be kind, they’ll probably be upset but you should always reply in a kind way that doesn’t put the blame on them or create more tension than is necessary. Not being able to afford a friend’s wedding is a bummer but in the scheme of life, this is of low importance and chances are you’re not the only one struggling to meet the financial demands of the impending wedding.