Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content

Monday, October 02, 2023

Dear Tori: Help! I can’t afford to be in my friend’s wedding

Dear Tori: Help! I can’t afford to be in my friend’s wedding

Tori Dunlap talking about cost of weddings

Wedding season is in full swing, meaning couples are getting married and people are being asked to be in their weddings. What should be a happy time can often turn stressful due to — you guessed it! — costs. It’s no secret that weddings can be expensive, but what’s often overlooked is how much it can cost to be a bridesmaid or groomsman.

A wedding isn’t just a one-day event. When you agree to be in someone’s wedding, you might be expected to go on a bachelor or bachelorette trip, help throw a bridal shower, pay for an outfit, and give multiple gifts. All of this can add up to hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars. If that’s not feasible for your budget, then keep reading for advice I gave to someone in a similar situation.

Dear Tori,

My friend from college just got engaged and asked me to be in her wedding. She asked me in the sweetest way, and I immediately said yes. But we’ve been discussing plans with the other bridesmaids and the costs are beginning to add up. I’m not sure if I can afford it between the bachelorette trip to Nashville, the shower, and the fact that I’ll need to fly to her wedding and stay in a hotel.

I don’t know how to tell her that I need to back out without hurting her feelings. What should I do?

Being honest with yourself and your finances is huge, so be proud of yourself for doing that. It’s not easy. I think the first step is to figure out what you can and cannot afford. Could you be a bridesmaid and opt out of the bachelorette trip? Take a look to see if you can make it work.

If you can’t finance everything, here’s how to approach that conversation with your friend.

Be honest and upfront.

Try to decide how you want to proceed and have a conversation — in person or over the phone is ideal — as soon as possible. Explain how honored you are to be asked, but being in a wedding is not part of your budget right now. Tell her you’ll still love to come to the wedding (if that works for your budget) and you’ll be there to support her during this exciting time in her life.

Stand firm in your decision.

It’s possible that your friend will try to convince you to be in the wedding. She probably just wants you to be part of it, but it’s important to stick with the choice you made. It won’t make it easier on your friendship if you go back and forth. Instead, re-explain why you came to this decision and assure her that you’re still just as excited that she’s getting married as you were before.

Calculate what you can afford.

Now, it’s time to see what you can afford to spend when it comes to the wedding. Can you afford to go? Maybe you can get her a super thoughtful gift? Can you still attend the shower? Take a look at your financial situation to see what you need to plan for financially for the wedding. This will give you clarity and events to look forward to during your friend’s engagement and later wedding.

It takes transparency and sometimes sacrifice when you’re trying to achieve financial goals and build wealth. I usually recommend using Empower’s free financial tools as a resource. These free tools allow you to sync all your financial accounts, so you get a clear picture of where you stand. I check it daily for tracking my net worth and my progress towards goals like retirement, debt payoff, and (yes!) saving that first $100k.


Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap


Tori Dunlap is a millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more. An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.


Tori Dunlap of Her First $100k (“Author”) uses and recommends the free Empower Personal Dashboard™. Empower compensates Author for providing the content contained in this article. Author is not a client of Empower Advisory Group, LLC ("EAG"). Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Empower Personal Wealth LLC (“EPW”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage ( to register with Empower and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to the Empower Personal Dashboard™. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Empower and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to EPW. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Empower as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to EPW and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by EAG will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, EPW or EAG as a result of this arrangement.


The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

Certain sections of this blog may contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions. Past performance is not a guarantee of future return, nor is it indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate and you may lose money. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. 

Advisory services are provided for a fee by Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”). EAG is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiary of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.