‘I had to borrow some money’: when attending your friend’s wedding sends you broke

Josie didn’t hesitate to say yes when her best friend asked her to be part of her wedding party.

“I was thrilled,” said Josie, whose name has been changed for this article.

Her friend was super cool, so Josie thought her wedding would be too.

“I thought she would have a barbecue-style wedding.”

Boy, was she wrong.

By the time it was all over, Josie was in the pocket to the tune of $4,800.

“I had to borrow money from my family to cover the costs.”

It’s not just Josie. The cost of weddings is out of control. The pressure to have the most Insta-worthy day, or to keep up with wedding trends on TikTok, comes with hefty price tags. And much of the cost falls on the guests.

So how do you say “no” without ruining the friendship?

Fees add up

For Josie, the first red flag was the hens “event”.

It lasted three days and had all the trimmings – a fancy dinner, a wine tour with a party bus, a spa night, cocktails and even matching pajamas.

“In all, we spent $1,200 each.”

Worse still, after shelling out this huge sum of money, Josie’s friend sat the wedding party down and told them she was disappointed they hadn’t tried harder for the hens.

“She felt like she didn’t have time to shine,” Josie said.

“Hearing that was a punch in the stomach.”

Being a bridesmaid can be a life-changing experience.(Getty: Thomas Barwick)

But Josie stayed by her side, even when the bride and groom insisted the bridal party pay for their pre-wedding food and drink.

Their wedding was in the middle of the week and was outside their hometown, so Josie was forced to pay $600 per night for accommodations.

Josie said the bride had lost a lot of friends because of her “self-absorbed, self-absorbed” behavior. The whole experience left Josie scarred.

“If someone asks me to be part of their wedding [again] I will say “no”. It’s too expensive.”

Attend a wedding… or buy a house

Of course, customers can always say “no” and refuse to spend money.

Tom from Adelaide had that option – instead he opted to withdraw an offer on a house so he could attend his friends’ destination weddings.

“We’ve been invited to three separate destination weddings from three separate friendship groups,” Tom told Hack.

“My partner and I decided to go to these weddings because that’s what we value, that’s what’s important to us.”

The more than $10,000 they will spend to attend weddings represents the money they had saved to buy their first home.

“Money comes and goes; houses come and go,” Tom said.

“Our friends picked out those specific dates and locations, and we planned around that.”

Marriages in the age of social media

The average wedding in Australia costs $36,000 and most people (60%) take out a loan to help pay for it, according to moneysmart.gov.aua government financial literacy project.

And more and more couples are taking to social media to find ideas and expectations around their big day.

“It was just a social media thing,” Josie said of her friend’s wedding.

“She wanted to be able to show everything on her social media and wanted everything to be perfect.”

Brooke Mott, who was a wedding planner for ten years, says social media has made weddings more expensive.

“As Instagram grew, it put a lot of pressure on a lot of people to get bigger and better and get those Instagram-worthy photos,” she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of people push their budget further than they wanted to get the right look.”

Laura from Melbourne had to pay $1,000 for dresses, hair, makeup and gifts, plus hens night, for her brother’s wedding.

“There was no thanks or appreciation,” she said.

Another person, who asked not to be named, paid $6,000 for a friend’s wedding where she was a bridesmaid.

“Now she’s on her second marriage and I’ve been asked to do it again,” they said.

How do you tell your friends about it?

Fiona Bennett, advisor at Relationships Australia, acknowledged that talking to your friends about money can be difficult.

“Sometimes it can be good to start really slow by saying, ‘I know this is such an important day for you and I really want to be part of the celebration,'” Fiona told Hack.

“You might even say, ‘I know this is awkward, but I thought you’d want to know about my situation,'” she said.

“There are ways to elevate the conversation.”

Fiona explained that there are also ways to fight about these things.

“If you approach someone and say, ‘That doesn’t sit well with me, I want us to be able to have a conversation about how we drifted apart’.”

“If the other person comes back and is defensive, it can help us understand that it was really important to them and they can’t hear what I mean or what I went through.”

Comments are closed.