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I agreed to be a coworker's bridesmaid but I can't afford it

HI, I live in Anchorage and am a management consultant and writer. I'm founder of www.bullywhisperer.com™, www.workplacecoachblog.com and www.thegrowthcompany.com. I'm author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. I author...

My coworker asked me to be a bridesmaid – and I don't know how to get out of it

Today we're talking about what happens when a coworker asks you to be in their wedding.

Question:

When my coworker asked if I’d be her bridesmaid, I was flattered and said yes. At the time, I thought it meant being with her on her wedding day, supporting her beforehand and wearing a dress I foolishly thought she’d provide. The other bridesmaid is her best friend and I’m the only person from work she’s asked to be part of her wedding.

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That was a big mistake. She expects the other bridesmaids and I to purchase ugly, expensive dresses and today, she let me know her allegedly good news – she’s reserved rooms for us, and we’ll have a “three days of parties,” a rehearsal dinner on Friday, Saturday, and then the wedding and “blow out” reception, with “all expenses paid.”

Then she let me know the rooms would be double-occupancy and told me I’d love to room with her best friend. When I asked "What about my kids?” she looked shocked and said “This is a wedding, it’s for adults,” as if I was out of my mind.

I want out. I understand that to her these are the most important three days of her life but I’ve added up the dress, travel, gift and other expenses and I can’t afford it. I also don’t want to leave my kids with my ex-husband from Friday afternoon to Sunday night when I’m driving to and from hotel, and so I’d be paying a babysitter to boot.

She’s already upset with me. If I bow out now, she’s going to think I’m pushing to get her to invite my kids, or that I’m ungrateful for this “wonderful” opportunity she’s providing me. I’m afraid of how ugly things will be between us at work. What do I do?

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Answer:

Let her know you’re thrilled for her and that you considered it a true honor to be asked. Tell her what you thought the commitment was. Show her the money tally and say you are not asking for your kids to come, but to understand that your kids and finances prevent you from being what she needs you to be.

If she can’t understand, and even if she can, things may change between the two of you. Soften the blow to the degree you can by telling her how excited you are for her, giving her a lovely gift, and treating her with warmth and positive energy even if she treats you coldly.

You can’t make this situation perfect, but you can get through it, and you’ll have learned a great lesson, to ask “what would it involve?” before saying “yes” to an unexpected request.

© 2016, Lynne Curry. If you'd like an answer to your career question, it's easy. Write lynne@thegrowthcompany.com. Lynne authored Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, 2016) and Solutions. You can also follow Lynne@lynnecurry10 on twitter or access her other posts on SheKnows, www.workplacecoachblog.com or www.bullywhisperer.com.

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