Can You Afford To Be A Groomsman or Bridesmaid?

November 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A friend's son was recently a handsome groomsman in his friend's wedding.  It was an out of state, destination style event at an upscale ski resort.  It wasn't ski season but rather a gorgeous setting of brilliant fall colors in the mountains of Colorado.  Jason was in awe of the whole production and it was fun to get in on all the photos, selfies, and marco polos he sent home.  The amenities were over the top.  Even a dinner for guests 2 days before the wedding included a live band.  The groom was reportedly an average guy whose good fortune was to marry a pretty gal WITH a good fortune.  

Jason enjoyed his few days among the rich and famous. When recounting the amazing details, he couldn't help but lament what the wedding had cost HIM.  When average Joe first announced his engagement, his buddies were happy and honored to be asked to be groomsmen.  A destination wedding?  That was a stretch for most of them, but they decided en masse to support their good friend and make it happen.  Jason saved and took the opportunity to make the wedding event a much needed vacation.  All was well until the sweet rich bride sent the guys her specs for their wedding attire.  It was a relief that they weren't asked to rent tuxes.  The bride had selected kaki pants, a nice shirt, and wool vest.  Easy peasy until the guys discovered the pants and shirt were to be ordered from a high-end east coast menswear store with price tags of $120 and $90 respectively.  Jason had never spent $90 on a shirt in his northwestern casual life and didn't intend to for someone else's wedding.  The groomsmen all felt much the same way and thought they might be able to substitute a J.C.Penney version.  Said rich bride was not amused.  Fortunately the groom had volunteered to pick up the tab for the $300 vests.  In the end everyone complied with the assigned wedding suit and everyone looked great and had a great time.  No hard feelings but some of the guys said they would certainly keep that in mind for their own future weddings.  

It's an age-old problem but most often we hear the murmurings from the bridesmaids who have to shell out big bucks for some formal dress they probably will never have occasion to wear again.  Every so often a letter to Dear Abby is from a bride's friend who is considering backing out of the wedding party because the price tag is not in the budget.  In this modern day there is no firm wedding etiquette telling us how to remedy this dilemma.  There certainly is nothing to prevent the bride and groom from offering to pay for the tux rentals or dresses, or at least offering an allowance to each participant for their required attire.  When Tom and I got married 10 years ago we actually purchased suits (on sale!) for the guys and street length dresses (on sale!) for the gals.  Of course we were the mom and dad and the guys and gals were our kids but we recognized that not everyone was in a place where they could shell out $$ for clothes, especially having travel expenses as well.  

When shopping for an over the top bridesmaid dress, the bride-to-be should consider how she might feel if the situation was reversed.  Jason and friends actually found a shirt that matched in style and color that was much less expensive, but the brand name was very important to the bride.  She honestly didn't understand what the problem was, but maybe the average Joe groom should have stepped up to quietly defend his friends and find a compromise.  My common sense suggestion is simply that engaged couples be mindful of not only their own wedding budget, but mindful and considerate of the financial requirement that will be placed on their friends to be part of the wedding.  


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