June 14, 2010

Modern Manners Monday: What Would YOU Do?


Dear TBS,

I know it's wedding season and you're likely receiving similar queries but I find myself in a bit of a pickle and hope that you and your readers can help me.  So here goes:

My best friend from childhood is getting married. She elected not to have a traditional maid of honor, and instead has chosen to have all three of her bridesmaids (myself included) share MOH duties.
When we began discussing my friend's bridal shower, one bridesmaid immediately volunteered to have the shower at her house. Since I'm a Type-A person, I offered to handle the invitations and RSVPs, and the third bridesmaid said she could handle desserts, since she works at a bakery. I assumed we would then divy up the miscellaneous expenses after the fact.
About a week or so after the invitations were sent, the bridesmaid who was allowing us to use her home for the shower told me that she would take care of the food. She went on to explain that she expected myself and the third bridesmaid to handle all the additional expenses, on top of what we'd already signed up for - including games, prizes for games, favors for the attendees, decorations for her home, and all the paper products for the food. I was surprised and slightly taken aback, but she indicated this was not up for debate, so I had no choice but to agree.
The third bridesmaid was extremely busy in the days leading up to the shower, so she asked me if I could cover the expenses for the rest of the items we had to bring, and she led me to believe that we'd split the cost later. Because of this, I agreed to handle the logistics to make sure everything turned out well for my best friend. At the shower, I was shocked that the food only consisted of a fruit plate and chicken salad sandwiches, and the dessert consisted of homemade brownies and a small cake. In total, I spent well over $250 on all the items I purchased for the shower, which seemed a little unbalanced.
Yes, the shower went well, and our 15 attendees had a great time, but at the end of the day, no mention was made of reimbursement. The third bridesmaid has now moved across the country, and I won't see her again until the rehearsal dinner. So, now I'm not quite sure what my next steps should be. Should I bring it up again - and if so, when would be appropriate? 

Do I just cut my losses and take note for the next time that splitting costs should be addressed during the initial planning process?

Thank you,
Ms C

What would YOU do if you were Ms C?


  1. Other than chalking it up to a lesson learned and avoiding at all cost situations like that in the future by discussing actual budget amounts up front, I'd consider sending a friendly written email to both ladies saying how much you enjoyed helping host the shower and oh, by the way, the cost of all supplies to be split amongst us totals $???.

  2. I agree - send an email that says something like, "Here are my total expenses; what were each of yours? Just want to make sure no one is carrying too much of the burden." When I was a caterer, I always required full pre-payment for anything wedding related because *everyone* involved thinks the sky's the limit leading up to the wedding but never wants to pay for it after. If you don't get paid before the wedding, you will never see a dime!

  3. I agree with Amy, learn from this situation but in the meantime send a friendly email letting them know how much they need to pay. They are grown women and they know better. The problem is that they thought you wouldn't know better.

  4. I agree with the ladies' previous statements, but no one should have to send you an email reminding you you agreed to help split the cost of the necessary accouterments.
    This same scenario happened to my niece and in grand fashion the friend hosting the baby shower told my niece (the day before the shower)her sister needed to pay for the cake, buffet, decorations, etc.
    I consider it tasteless and as Rosalynn said basically, "grown women should know better!"

  5. Oh my goodness...
    I agree with The Frugal Hostess and her suggested email wording comes across very gentle, yet gets the point across.

  6. you're all pretty funny.

    what do you guys think about the rouge network?


  7. I definitely agree, email them and say something along the lines of "I had a great time co-hostessing with all of you, thanks so much for your hard work, I want to make sure everyone is accounted for in terms of expenses, so if you'll let me know how much you spent I will let you know how much we each owe to make sure it is balanced"

    Good luck, but definitely speak up next time beforehand!


  8. I would absolutely hold the other ladies accountable. If they love your friend, and want the honor and title of being involved, they should know that some money will be necessary to make her day special!

  9. I "almost" had a similar situation. Three of us were planning a friend's baby shower and I started to notice that there was quite a bit of banter about over-the-top, and expensive decorations, food, location, etc. I simply stated to the ladies that it all sounded great and our friend would love it, but asked that we come up with a budget, delineate responsibilities, etc.-- it worked perfectly. If I hadn't snapped them back to reality it would have been a financial disaster and everyone would have been ticked and pointing the finger. My advice to Ms C is to chalk this one up as a loss (she's not going to get any $$$ from the others after the fact) and make an effort to detail the planning process the next time. I'm sure the engaged friend will have a baby shower in the future.

  10. "but she indicated this was not up for debate, so I had no choice but to agree."
    Although this event has already passed, you had a choice. Your failure to assert your self in this instance is an indicator that you are unlikely to recoup any of your expenses. Can you be equally as demanding that you be reimbursed?

    Rather than email, I would snail mail handwritten notes to each of them to connote the seriousness of the matter; and besides, it's more personal. I would then follow up with an email if they are slow to respond or claim they never rec'd your note.

    Whenever I've co-hosted, we established a budget, selected a "treasurer", pooled our cash and shopped together. Not only is it a fun, bonding event for girlfriends, it keeps everything above board.

  11. I have been in a similar situation. Cut your losses. Trust, she knows she screwed you over. She was not busy, she was being cheap. If she intended to pay you back, she would have made arrangements when the shower ended. And the person who held the shower at her house decided to provide all the food so she could control what was spent and prevent her oweing anyone or spending more than she wanted. I'm only suggesting this because you don't want to have ill feelings, hostility around your friends wedding. And you definitely can't complain to the bride-that would be tactless IMO. though it might be tempting.

    This is why I feel brides should let folks OFFER to host showers. And not put people together to host a shower unless they suggest it. Yall should have sat down and said what each person was willing to spend-not saying this was supposed to be an equal amount for each person. If no one was willing do that, then you should have said what you were willing to spend, period. I have been burned before in a similar situation and wish I used the advice I'm giving now. That way you spend what you are willing to spend without having to worry about being paid back.

  12. I would email her my Paypal address, tell her what she owes you and ask when she thinks she will be able to pay you by.

  13. I agree with MissMajestic. These ladies are fully aware that they owe you money. If you email and get no response or better yet a hostile one, it will be very tense at the rehearsal and wedding and you don't want that for your friend. Sending the email would at least put it out there, but you should not expect to get any money back. I think this is yet another lesson learned- speak up in the beginning and be straight up. When one asked for you to cover her since she was busy, a simple- WHEN AM I GOING TO GET MY MONEY? (not yelling just capped for effect)- would have at least put her on notice.

    Don't you hate it when things like this happens?

  14. Red Flags All Over the Place! First of all, if you really have the confidence to address the issue at this date in time, do so! You can arrange a face-to-face meeting (emails can create amnesiacs and get deleted) with the one's who are in town to discuss the matter asap! Yet, you must word it in such a way that will not cause them to get busy all of a sudden or be a no show! For the out-of-towner, contact that person, and include her via a speaker phone or discuss separately. They may not be happy campers about it (but so what-who cares)! I'd rather that than to carry the thought of being taken advantaged of around.

    Going forward, NEVER ASSUME anything! Business minded people aren't born that way, they're made. Also, you MUST deal with and confront your fear of offending others! Ingrain in your thinking that everything should be fair and above board, even when there are changes. You always have a choice to agree/allow or not agree/allow! No one, I repeat, no one, has the right to tell you what is or isn't up for discussion when planning an event that involves your money, time, and participation!

    I've organized and assisted in the planning of many events (small and large) that were corporate/client related, intimate among friends/family, and team related among co-workers. The only event where I personally covered the entire expense was for a young, married mother who I wanted to be blessing to and encourage. It was my idea, decision, and choice! Among co-workers, when no one else wanted to organize the bridal showers, they would ask me if I wouldn't mind doing so. We 'ALL' decided together how much to put in and pooled our monies. They completely left everything to me which is what I loved! The selections, cake, everything! The results were outstanding and beautiful! I presented each with a photocopy of the expenditures and receipts, with the beginning total and ending balance. I also included the the amount each person would receive from the end balance on that same piece of paper; all neatly categorized. To my surprise, they told me to keep the money since I did the foot work and set everything up. This has repeated itself throughout my work history. People can tell who they can take advantage of, if you allow them too! -pearls

  15. I'm afraid you're going to have to chalk this up to wisdom gained and money down the drain.

    I find it curious that maids of honor and bridesmaids these days are required to act as the bride's bitches for the entire period leading up to the wedding. The function of the maids (of honor or otherwise) are to be helpful on the day of the wedding. The bride gets ONE DAY, not several months to lord it over everyone.

    Any close female friend of the bride may throw the shower. The bride's immediate family may NOT throw the shower. The shower may not exceed the budget of the hostess - if the hostess can afford punch and cookies, then punch and cookies it is. Shower gifts are small and are meant to set up housekeeping, not to provide a fabulous honeymoon or a mortgage. The wedding gift itself should be larger, something from the registry.

    Weddings and the events surrounding them are just not that difficult to understand.

    Finally - any woman who allows another to dictate to her how she will spend her money will spend her life wondering how she ended up poor.

  16. I would chalk it up....The other bridesmaids know what they owe---and if they aren't going to put their money where their mouth is...I'd chalk it up. Now, if they mention it...then discuss it...otherwise, move on and enjoy the fact that the shower was nice and you have a best friend entering a new phase of life that you get to participate and enjoy with her. Let me know what you finally do. Just curious.

  17. I would probably chalk it up... Like Marcia said they know what they owe. Just take this situation as a good lesson learned for future reference. I had this type of situation happen to me before where a friend of mine needed a black suit for a funeral and said she would give me the money later that week. Needless to say I never received it and I've yet to say anything simply because I don't feel I need too. Trust me that young lady will lose way more money than she owe's you...

  18. I know I presented a lengthy example, yet I wanted to ensure that if this history should try to repeat itself, you’ll be equipped with knowledge of what to do. Personally, I’ve found that saying chalk it up, as experience is just not enough, at least for me sometimes!

    So, if you choose to meet with or talk (rationally) with these ladies and they refuse to understand or do their part financially, just make a choice to consciously release the matter by letting them know you forgive them (even if it’s by faith) and then move forward. You’ve now freed yourself of any resentment and bitterness that may try to enter towards yourself (for not speaking up-if it's a pattern) and them. Then, at the wedding, celebrate and enjoy with a clear conscious! -pearls

  19. thanks to you all! i ended up doing what several of you suggested - e-mailing the bridesmaids, since there are only 3 of us, and one no longer lives in town. the out-of-towner sent me her expenses, and the one who hosted the shower has not responded...so the two of us who have made our expenses public knowledge are going to split the costs we incurred.

    i appreciate all of your advice and suggestions, and as this was my first time co-hosting a shower, i've definitely learned a lot about what to improve upon next time!

  20. Cal,

    Glad you at least got one response. Many of us, myself included, have had to learn the hard way. I have been in so many weddings that I honestly cannot remember how many showers I've hosted or co hosted. The biggest thing to do up front no matter what is from the get-go, establish a budget, theme, tasks, etc. Assign them to everyone. Make it clear that if anyone goes over their portion of the budget that its a personal expense on them (so no one just goes bonkers on flowers and expects that all the other hostesses will just pitch in for the extra expense). Ask people to submit receipts and everyone knows they only owe their equal portion of the amount everyone agreed was the budget. This includes the budget for the gift for the bride.

    Also, bridesmaids are NOT required to throw a shower for the bride. Technically they only have to show up on the day of the wedding in the dress. All these extras we have made up for ourselves over the years. I had a bride try to tell me (once and only once) how I should handle details of one of her showers. I politely but firmly told her that what she was asking for was not in my budget and that it would be a lovely shower, but my co hostess and I could not afford to rent a limo for all the girls to go out for a night on the town after we had the shower at my house. A good bride knows that showing up and being a gracious guest is the best thing to do. You can also define the terms of your shower, such as the number of guests. You are the hostess. Your place, your rules.

  21. After ten weddings, I am officially the worst bridesmaid ever, and this fact has been fully disclosed to everyone I know, yet they all still ask me to be in their weddings and are surprised when I don't show up for this crap.

    That being said, if I had acted as you did with this rookie mistake, I would send the offending parties a link to this post.

    If you get the chance to stick these women with any other expenses during the wedding weekend, go for it with full gusto.

    Also, you may as well leave the dress in the hotel room when you leave. Believe me, it won't be worth taking up room in your suitcase or closet.

  22. Mm mm mm, my goodness! Paragraph 3 - You "assumed." Uh uh! Paragraph 4 - You "had no choice but to agree." Uh uh! Paragraph 5 - "She led me to believe we'd split the cost later." Uh uh! You could write each of the two co-hostesses a sweet little note before the wedding, but it probably wouldn't do any good. People who do this sort of thing know what they're doing. And you don't want to get into anything ugly before the wedding and mar the wedding day. I would leave it until after the wedding (knowing full well that I'm not going to be reimbursed no matter when I do it) to fire off my notes. And I would resolve to, in future, never assume, never feel I have no choice but to agree, never be led to believe anything; but, rather, be clear and matter-of-fact about all duties and expenses IN ADVANCE.


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