This week, Jenée Desmond-Harris and Caroline Moss discuss a Prudie letter: “Going Broke”
Caroline Moss: Okay, hello! So, I had to read this question … several times. Because the numbers, the dollar amounts … they would not compute. That is SO much money. Please tell me you had the same reaction?
Jenée Desmond-Harris: Sort of, but then I remembered all those kids. I feel like I’ve spent 3k to be in a wedding, just me. So it kind of added up.
Caroline: Oh yeah, all the kids.
Jenée: Plane tickets, extra hotel rooms.
Caroline: Right, my mid-20s were just like, charging other people’s weddings to my credit card.
Jenée: SAME. I went to Australia twice.
Caroline: Wait, for someone else’s wedding??? (PLURAL?)
Jenée: Yes, once as a bridesmaid and once as a +1. Totally unrelated people.
Caroline: I am usually onboard with people doing destination weddings if they allow guests flexibility with where they stay and what they are required to do while they’re there. I have had some good vacations built around weddings. But I think requiring people stay at a $$$$$$ resort … for what? I mean, really, I guess I have a hard time thinking I have to care about where people are sleeping as long as they have somewhere to stay that works for them.
I thought your advice was really good, though. I would also add that like, money is a very clear cut thing on paper but can become a really emotional topic.
Jenée: I do think the LW is on to something about how if you book a certain way, it’s basically free for bride and groom. Like in return for having your expensive wedding there you get to stay for free or something
Caroline: Oh yeah, the travel agent thing was like EEK. So tacky! I mean, I love a deal, but woof that is tacky. But I agree that when you’re thrown in this particular situation, you can’t have like a public meltdown, but ugh, when it’s family? IDK the whole thing seems like a nightmare to a people pleaser like me.
Jenée: It just feels like a no-win situation, and it’s because of the absolutely ridiculous way wedding party planning happens. Like, you get a wine glass or a flask in the mail that says “will you be in my wedding” and then the costs just add up, but you’ve already said yes. I am so serious when I say we need contracts or at least estimates at the beginning.
Caroline: I think that’s SO smart. But people really want to believe like, “no expense too big for MY WEDDING!” Bride brain. And I’m sorry that we have to do blame the bride but it really is bride brain. Sometimes the grooms get bride brain too.
Jenée: And it’s so strange that weddings normally happen at a moment kind of early-ish in life/career when NOBODY CAN AFFORD THIS.
Caroline: Money gets awk for people, but it’s a little more awk to tell someone a hotel room costs $$$$ in a gaslighty way that’s not like, okay we’re not gonna talk about this insane number?
Jenée: But we just pretend, and everyone gets stressed and complains.
Caroline: Yes. Ugh, I was in a wedding once where I was 23 and everyone else was 26, which now, at 34 I’m like, that’s basically the same age. But at the time, I was making 38k a year in NYC and they were in the 50-60 range. That’s a HUGE difference! And no one really understood why I was sweating about it. AND THEN YOU STILL HAVE TO GIVE A GIFT! We need to rethink these “sacred traditions” around weddings.
Jenée: And these days—like in this letter—you also have to do a really expensive vacation as a bachelorette.
Caroline: When I got married I refused to do like, any pomp. I didn’t want it. But truly I still feel traumatized by the stress of other people’s wedding events.
Jenée: In this case, I really, really think LW should stay home with the kids.
Caroline: I completely agree. That’s legitimately a compromise.
Jenée: Because her fiancé is important to the groom and she would be spending all that money to say hi for 4 seconds and have the kids annoy people, and it just wouldn’t be worth it. That should cut the cost by a LOT.
And I mean, she and the kids aren’t even going to SEE him most of the time because he’ll be running around doing his groomsman duties.
Caroline: I wonder if they have totally separate finances, or if she’s expected to put up some of the money. I got the feeling it was less about cost and more about … “how could you possibly ask us to spend this money?” like from an emotional place.
Jenée: Me too. That was unclear.
Caroline: Nothing worse than being the +1 of someone in the wedding party, let alone the best man.
Jenée: Right, it’s one thing if the venue is 35 minutes away and a one-day commitment that only costs you a new dress. But this actually sounds like it would be a really non-fun experience. Her fiancé should take that into consideration.
Caroline: I think she and the kids should go but stay at a resort next door.
Jenée: Ooh, interesting idea.
Caroline: And not go to the wedding, but make it a family vacation but they probably could never tell anyone in their family about it lol.
Jenée: The mother of the bride would be so mad about missing out on her commission or whatever. But who cares!
Caroline: She should use another agent. Go full petty.
Jenée: Either way, this might just have to be one of those very expensive lessons about how to handle wedding invitation in the future AND how these two handle their own wedding. Don’t put other people in this position!
Caroline: I agree. I agree. I think she should take the emotion out of it as much as possible. And just say, just because someone wants to do this with their wedding does not mean I have to do it. Can we afford it, do we want to go? Just like you said. RSVP, no one needs an explanation either (I am reminded of that quote, “‘No’ is a complete sentence”) and try not to spend a ton of timing stewing over how someone could possibly request this of their wedding guests (I would spend a lot of time stewing).
Jenée: Yes, also final thought: We tend to overestimate how much people want us at their weddings. If you say no, they will move the B-list and tweak the seating chart.
Jenée: And probably replace your kids with some fun coworkers.
Caroline: It’s a hard truth.
Jenée: It will be absolutely fine.
Jenée: Ok, I would love an update on this, so LW, if you’re reading this, let us know what happens. Thanks, Caroline!