I’m Not Going to My Best Friend’s Bachelorette Party.

Friends Having Lunch Together At HomeWhy? Well it’s quite simple really…I can’t afford it.

And no, I don’t think “Bachelorette Party” qualifies as one of those things you “have” to afford.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that sentiment, so I’ve been met with some eye rolls and attitude.

Meanwhile, one of my other friends, who is halfway through nursing school and up to her eyeballs in debt IS going because she feels OBLIGATED.

Let me say this, ALL “OBLIGATIONS” ARE A CHOICE. You are the one who decides whether or not something is an obligation. Yes, there are societal, cultural, and peer expectations and pressures, but at the end of the day, the decision is yours.

And for me, the bachelorette party did not qualify.

Let me tell you what I’ll be doing with that money instead: paying my rent, paying my bills, and spending on my current priorities. That’s right, I have other personal priorities for my money left over after the bills are paid that trump my best friend’s bachelorette party.

The philosophy that every free moment and dollar I have should go to the bride-to-be is beyond absurd to me- no matter how good a friend or how close the relation.

So what is this personal priority that’s so important? A trip to Europe. My boyfriend left for Europe at the start of this year for a six month work contract. My goal is to visit in early April, around the halfway mark. Not only is this an opportunity for me to spend time with my significant other, it’s an opportunity for me to experience Europe for two weeks for relatively little money (since I’ll be able to stay in the boyfriends’ hotel for free)!

The bachelorette party is in Mid March. It is to consist of a private stretch limo ride to Atlantic City (from Northern New Jersey) for a night on the town (which as I was told, is to involve dinner and clubbing). Between what I would need to pay for my share and the bride to be’s, I would likely wind up having to spend several hundred dollars on the evening. In other words, close to a THIRD of what I would need to make my TWO WEEK trip to Europe happen.

Is it selfish of me to refuse? Maybe?

But considering that I’ll already be spending $100-200 on gifts, transportation, accommodations, etc for the wedding itself and the bridal shower, I just don’t see that. Perhaps, if I had a job where I made more money it wouldn’t seem like such a big deal?

Hold on, why should I even feel the need to justify myself? The way I spend my money is for me to decide. And even if I had the money for both the trip and the party, I don’t know that I would go. Not because I’m spiteful or a bitch, but because the principle of spending $300-500 on nothing more than food, drink, and in my opinion, terrible entertainment, (I HATE clubs), in the course of a few hours is CRAZY to me.

I hate that we’ve developed this culture of entirely unnecessary excess, but even more, I hate that there is an expectation for everyone to participate- regardless of their finances or of their previous goals and commitments.

Maybe I’ll kick myself in a few years when no one likes me any more because I’ve pissed them off with my “principles” and “priorities”. Maybe I’ll even lose a best friend. But if my friends can’t understand that they are PART of my life (a very important part, but still a part) and not ALL of my life, perhaps I need to re-evaluate those relationships.

How do you deal with peer pressure and expectation to spend? Have you had relationships strained because you were unwilling to spend money on a so-called “obligation”?


I’m Not Going to My Best Friend’s Bachelorette Party. — 34 Comments

  1. If I were in your situation, surely I’m not going to. I’m an introvert type of person, I would prefer to stay here in our house, rather than going to a party with lots of people surrounds me. Especially if I would spend $100-200 on gifts, transportation, accommodations, that’s too much for me.

  2. Fortunately, my friends and I are similar enough that most of them didn’t have bachelorette parties (or even wedding showers).

    However, things get more complicated when you’re in the wedding. From my experience being a bridesmaid in a relatives wedding, the bridesmaids all chipped in for the bachelorette party and wedding shower. So even though I didn’t necessarily have to attend, I still had to put in my share.

    • That’s tough. I have made it clear to my friends that though I adore them, I can’t afford all those wedding “extras”. I wonder how I’ll deal with it if I ever decide to get married. I think I’d want to celebrate with them but I wouldn’t require them to have to purchase anything like matching dresses or party favors.

  3. Personal priorities always come first. Especially as we get older we have to fit our social lives around our responsibilities. If people get offended, screw ’em! Though our best of friends are also important, but so long as you explain your reasons they won’t be too disappointed.

    • I think that friends in different financial situations also have trouble relating and understanding.

  4. You’re right, weddings are ridiculously expensive but I think it depends on the situation for me. I certainly wouldn’t drop hundreds of dollars on just any stagette, bridal shower, or wedding but there are times that I just need to step up and be that best friend. These weddings don’t happen every day and I usually have a lot of lead time for planning and budgeting a BF’s wedding. I think of it as more of a necessary best friend tax than a “societal obligation to spend money” but that’s just me.

    However, there’s a lot I don’t know about your situation. It sounds like you’ve worked out a way to be present for the bridal shower and the wedding and that’s pretty special. At the end of the day, it’s what you feel good about. If it’s all you can give, it’s all you can give. You’re allowed to set your limits and everybody else will just have to live with it (or not live with it). Thanks for making me think. And remember that this too shall pass.

    • I’m part of a large cultural community, which means LOTS of friends and LOTS of weddings.

      But regardless of that, I think the expectation of spending 100s if not 1000s of dollars on someone is beyond crazy. Where’s the “friend tax” for those who don’t get married or have babies. Should they be expecting checks from everyone who’s wedding and showers they took part in over the years?

      • I had to think about my response for a minute because I wasn’t sure what I was reacting to in your post.

        I agree that you really have to draw your lines if you have a big family and lots of best friends. Like you say, you can’t do everything for everyone all the time – it’s just not workable.

        I think I’m objecting to how you’ve described your friend’s stagette party (not the expensive part because, clearly, it’s REALLY expensive). I don’t think you’re spiteful or a bitch but I’m not sure I would want to hear how horrible and wasteful you thought my stagette was going to be. It would hurt my feelings.

        I’ll personalize this for a minute: If you can’t attend my stagette because you’ve got other stuff, that’s fine. If you aren’t going to attend because you think celebrating something special with me is too “consumerist” or “wasteful”, I’m probably going to feel pretty shitty about that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not being “personal” – being intellectual or having principles isn’t going to spare my feelings. Your beliefs and principles are solid, I would just side step that discussion until well after my friend’s celebration de jour.

        Those are just my beliefs and convictions.

        • I understand and agree. I certainly didn’t tell my friend that I thought her party wasteful (she is my friend after all). I just said it wasn’t a financially viable option for me at this time and offered to come before they all go out for the evening to hang out and celebrate at her home.

  5. I find it to be almost selfish that someone would have a bachelorette party that costs each guest so much. Everyone has their own financial situation and theres bound to be people who aren’t able to afford it. Personally I think there’s nothing wrong with saying “I can’t afford it”

    • I think it’s fine if you’re willing to accept that people aren’t going to be able to make it because of the financial commitment. But I guess it’s also unfair to put a friend in that position of feeling bad about not going because of the money. It’s just gotten so out of hand these days.

  6. I think that if the bachelorette (or bachelor) party is something more extravagant like that, they should expect that not all of the bridal party will be able to make it and afford the expense. Hopefully your friend is respectful enough to understand your decision!

    • I feel bad for the friends who I know can’t afford it but feel so much pressure that they are going anyway.

  7. I sometimes feel like the entire wedding circus has become too much. Where’s the limit, really? I would definitely turn exuberant weekends/parties down at this point in my life: no matter who we’re celebrating and why. And yes, I too have those friends I just know don’t say ‘no’ because of peer pressure, and I used to be one of them… but no more: I’m the boss of my money, and my life.

  8. I’ve felt obligated to go to bachelor parties when invited. Last year, I was invited to a bachelor party in Costa Rica. I had already planned for it and saved so this wasn’t an issue. I had a great time. The only ridiculous thing was that the groom expected me to attend his “local” bachelor party in NYC too. He made it a big deal that I wasn’t going which made no sense to me after shelling out a couple thousand dollars to pay for the bachelor party in Costa Rica (yea we paid for his flight, room and food).

    • That is INSANE. How could he possibly be offended after a whole trip to Costa Rica? The whole wedding culture and expectation has just gotten so out of control.

      • That’s exactly what I said but people get so emotional in these types of events. Talking to him rationally wasn’t working because of the heightened emotions.

        I recently wasn’t invited to a wedding of a 2nd tier level friend and people were wondering how could I not have been invited. My response was, “Trust me I am ok. I rather not get invited then have to decline.” My idea of friendship has nothing to do with how many wedding invitations I get, baptisms or house warming parties.

  9. I think your practical standpoint on this decision is absolutely perfect.
    I can’t believe how much money people feel obligated to dump into other people’s weddings. Obviously if the party was convenient and within your means, you’d be a giant Scrooge for not attending.
    On the other hand, no one should take offense if you don’t put yourself in a jam to get sloppy wasted for the night.
    If your friend is offended, take her out on a 1-on-1 “date” – nice dinner, quiet cocktails, whatever, instead. I think that’s more meaningful than an evening of binge drinking with your peers.

  10. You’re being selfish with your money….GOOD FOR YOU! It’s your money, if going to Europe to see your significant other is more important, then kudos to you for sticking your foot down and doing what you want to do with your hard earned cash.

    • I’m happy to spend some of it on others. In fact, I designate 5% of each paycheck for gifts and donations, but the expense involved with these kinds of events require so much more financial commitment than that, which is beyond my limit.

  11. Bloody hell. Glad I have reasonably frugal and maybe ‘boring’ friends, but the two parties I’ve been to have been very tame and frugal (under $50 each I think? Luckily they had sisters who shouldered the burden).

    I told them they didn’t need to plan me one but they insisted, taking me out to get my nails done and for dinner. I think it would’ve cost a couple hundred dollars still for all of us, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.

    • I went to one wedding shower that was just a bbq in the backyard. All I had to pay for was the train to and from and a gift. Perfect AND fun.

  12. Great post, Stefanie. It’s incredible to me how many pre-wedding events have popped up recently, all designed to benefit the bride/couple with more money and entertainment. My husband felt bad registering for gifts because our family and friends were coming in from out of town and he knew travel would be expensive. His sensitivity to people’s costs is much appreciated but sadly rare. At least you know what NOT to do if/when you tie the knot!

    • True. Destination weddings are very expensive. I wish more people would accept that the travel qualifies as the gift.

  13. I don’t think you owe your friends an attednance or participation in her bachelerotte party considering you are an out of towner and you are attending her bridal ahower and wedding anyways..

    Honestly, if a friend expects a gift for bachelorette party AND AND bridal shower AND the wedding – then something is wrong with her and her friendship.

    What’s with people expecting multiple gifts for one life event …. Unbelieveable!!

    And you certainly owe no explanation or justification or reason on why you can’t make it to one of those.

    • The multitude of wedding events and expenses have become so customary. That’s where I think is the real problem is.

  14. I know I am a few months late on this post but just came across it.

    I have decided to be the one person who disagrees with your post and spin this on you to be a bride-to-be’s perspective.

    As on outsider, I received bitter vibes from this post since your friend is getting married and it seems to just be completely inconvenient for you at this time in your life, so let me start off by asking how you would handle your “best friend” skipping out on a big event for you, whether it be your future bachelorette party or something else important to you? The same reason being that she simply could not afford it. Would she be “spiteful” or a “bitch” too or simply a best fried with other priorities?

    Basically, what I am asking you is to put yourself in her place for a moment (no matter how extravagant you think her bachelorette party to be) and evaluate the situation from her perspective because I am guessing that this whole wedding journey is a very big deal to your best friend. Also, I may have missed it, but I did not see where you mentioned if you were a bridesmaid or not? I only ask because people in a wedding party usually have an idea of what they are getting themselves into before/during the wedding and festivities when they agree to be by their friend’s side on his/her big day.

    You stated, “The philosophy that every free moment and dollar I have should go to the bride-to-be is beyond absurd to me- no matter how good a friend or how close the relation.” Is that the case for this bride-to-be/former bride-to-be’s that you know/knew or is that just YOUR personal philosophy…?

    Lastly, did your “best friend” set some type of expectation(s) for you because you make it sound like she is asking for so much from you?

    • I was at her wedding no problem. THAT’S an important day. But bachelorette party AND wedding shower ON TOP of that is a big ask, especially when you choose activities that require a minimum spend. No problem if the bride wants to do it, as long as it’s not a requirement. And I wouldn’t dream of being offended were someone to prioritize their own needs were the roles reversed. That’s friendship.

  15. I’m a bride currently and because of women like this, I’m not even getting to have a bachelorette party or bridal shower. It broke my heart to know I was there for them when they were engaged and had all the usual wedding festivities and now that’s It’s my turn, I’m not even a priority. So I think you should postpone the Europe trip and be there for your friend. You can go to Europe any time, your friend gets married once. She will remember you not being there for her. Honestly, planning my wedding has now been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life because of this. I feel like my friends and family don’t care about me. I really didn’t expect this selfishness and I’ve cut off a lot of people now because of that. If I’ve been there for them for the duration of our whole relationships and the one time I want them to be there for me, it’s too much for them, then this is definitely a one sided relationship. It’s been very very hurtful.

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