Q: I asked my best friend to be my MOH right after I got engaged, and my first mistake was not asking her if she’d be able to travel to the wedding. We are getting married on the other side of the country, where my family lives, and my BFF seems excited for me and willing to help, but financially she doesn’t seem able to pull this off. She has a serious shopping addiction, and she consistently has money issues as of recently. I’m not sure how to politely approach this topic with her without calling out her mental issues with money. I’ve asked her if it would be a problem for her to travel to the wedding, and she says it will be okay, and she’s excited, but she is very vague. I just see her backing out last minute, and at this point I’d like to move on if she’s unable to come. Advice?
A: Dear Anonymous,
No, no, no. It’s never your job to confront someone about her spending habits. You tack on the idea of “mental issues,” but if you were truly worried about that, your primary concern wouldn’t be a plane ticket to the wedding. If this was about serious concerns about her mental health, you wouldn’t have waited until it was an inconvenience to you before addressing it. And if this isn’t a mental health issue, you shouldn’t address it at all.
But, you’re worried about your friend copping out at the last minute, and that part we can handle. If you haven’t yet, offer her an out. You say she’s expressed excitement about traveling, which doesn’t sound vague to me. But if you haven’t already, you can say, “Listen, I know I wasn’t clear up front about travel. I know it’s a big ask, and if you can’t make it I understand, just let me know.” The problem, of course, is she’s very likely to say, “Omg it’s no trouble at all!” and you’ll still spend all of your time fretting about what-if-she-doesn’t-show.
Luckily, you’ve got one other option: ask her to book her travel and accommodations now. You can say that everyone is booking everything all together right now, or that you found a great deal (PS: Go look for a great deal). Or you can just be honest that you’re worried about waiting till the last minute, and it’ll be one less worry on your mind if it’s handled now.
Here’s my real suggestion: If you’re able, offer to cover her travel expenses. Before you argue with me, hold on. This isn’t about whether or not she deserves help; it’s not about whether or not she should be better at saving money, whether or not she should better prioritize expenses. This is about two things alone. One, that you want your friend at your wedding. Two, that you don’t want to spend the next several months worrying about whether she’ll flake. You’re paying for peace of mind, and you’re being generous to a friend as an awesome bonus. (And true story: when I polled the APW staff, several of them paid for travel for a wedding party member or friend they really wanted there.)
Now, no one likes to be the broke friend. So, if you pay, make sure you couch this in, “I feel bad that I didn’t mention the travel before asking you to be maid of honor.” But if you pay for her to be there, you cannot make this about her money. And sure as hell don’t tell her she’s bad at it.