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I’m a new mother, and can’t afford to pay $400 to attend a friend’s bachelorette party. Another friend backed out. Should I reconsider? – News Opener

Dear Quentin,

We have a large friend group from college. We’re all getting married, starting families, getting established in our careers and our lives. I eloped and have a child now. None of my friends attended my wedding. I have attended all of theirs, but none of the bachelorette parties.

I was invited to a bachelorette party across the country. I declined to stay with the group in part due to my postpartum depression, not being with my child and finances. I would like to attend if my husband and I can find our own accommodation, so I can be with my baby at night.

One friend wholeheartedly said ‘yes’ to going and the group booked their accommodation, which costs just over $400 per person for a few nights stay. My friend backed out due to some unexpected very high bills, and now the bride-to-be is upset (rightfully, in my opinion).

What can they do to patch this up, and not drive a wedge in their friendship? Should I offer to stay in the room vacated by the friend, if my husband and daughter can join? I don’t want to get involved in this friendship/accommodation dispute, but I would also like to help.

Friend & Mother

Dear Friend & Mother,

Bachelorette and bachelor parties are out of control. Not only do people have to pay to attend the wedding — and sometimes destination weddings — but they have to fork out hundreds of dollars or more on hotel bills and airplane tickets, all before the cost of wining and dining when they get there. The lap of honor when people get married is expensive for everyone else.

People get married all the time — sometimes, twice or three times in a lifetime — so it seems pointless to have a friendship that is conditional upon people attending. A friendship that comes with such rigid expectations and ultimatums is worth less than the bachelorette party meal. It’s time people stopped acting like they’re the only ones who ever got married, and cut prospective guests some slack.

Right now is an especially bad time to ask people to spend this kind of money. The rise in wages is lagging inflation and layoffs are on the rise. The median cost of attending bachelorette/bachelor parties in 2022 was $1,500, up from $1,400 in 2021, according to a survey by Savings.com. Those attending bachelor parties actually spent approximately 70% more than those attending bachelorette parties.

“More than one in two attendees took on credit card debt to attend a bachelor or bachelorette party, and 15% were uncomfortable with the amount they shelled out to attend,” the survey added. “Half of recent party guests agreed that couples should tone down these types of events due to rising costs, and a similar number believed that bachelor and bachelorette parties have become too extravagant.”

You are dealing with two issues: First, a person committed to attending but had to back out for her own reasons. I expect the hotel can make an adjustment to the booking given that so many people are attending the bachelorette party. It’s a part of life: People sometimes cancel, and as inconvenient as that is, it should not be the basis for ending a friendship. Hopefully, that won’t happen here.

Second, you found a compromise: You are attending, but you are not willing or able to spend $400 for a hotel. You are under no obligation to stay with the rest of the group if you can find a cheaper Airbnb
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or hotel, and it’s not your responsibility to fix a disagreement between others. Bachelorette/wedding hosts should ideally be open to their guests making alternative hotel arrangements.

However, bringing your husband defeats the purpose of having a girls’ weekend, and you will be making the situation worse by offering this condition. Don’t get involved in other people’s disputes, and don’t feel guilty about making travel arrangements that suit your budget. You are showing up. That’s the most important part of this story. If your friend is a true friend, she will appreciate that.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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