Miss Manners: How do you say no to a wedding party?

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Dear Miss Manners: My wife has become friends with my friend’s fiancée over the past couple of years or so, but when she asked my wife to be at her wedding party, the request was a bit of a surprise. My wife said yes and has since regretted it.

We knew the wedding was going to involve travel, but the list of responsibilities keeps growing. It now includes several wedding dress fittings, a bridesmaid dress fitting, a bridal shower and a bachelorette party weekend in New York – not to mention the wedding itself, also in New York. So she pays for two plane tickets over $700, plus all the other gifts, dresses, travel expenses, etc.

Behind it all are dozens of scheduling emails that require opinions and delicate compromises, adding further stress to my wife’s daily work responsibilities and social schedule.

Having been through my own “it’s way too much” groomsman experience, which required far more time and money than expected, we kept things simple for our own wedding. We didn’t organize a bridal party, pre-wedding showers or gift list, in order to save time and money for our friends and family.

At this point we understand that she is committed and we try to keep a positive mindset about everything. But in hindsight, if given the opportunity to say “thank you, but no thank you,” she would have.

Is it possible to do this without ruining the relationship? If yes, how would you formulate your answer?

“Thanks feel very honoured. But please tell me what that would entail. Followed, if necessary, by an “I’m afraid I can’t handle all of this. But I will be your most enthusiastic guest.

Miss Manners urges all potential bridesmaids and groomsmen, for that matter, to have this conversation before committing. She has heard from far too many people who have blindly accepted a situation where they lose control of their time and money.

It shouldn’t be that way, of course. Since the people attending a wedding party are likely to be closely related to the bride and groom, they should be treated as friends and not as indentured servants. This means that their suitability must be considered and their agreement must be obtained for any commitment beyond standing at the altar.

Many couples have come to believe that they are solely responsible for making arrangements – essentially dictating which ancillary feasts are to be given in their own honor. Miss Manners is glad to hear that you and your wife are not among them.

Dear Miss Manners: Is it inappropriate to cut food with the side of your fork?

For obscure reasonsit’s actually considered best to do so — but it’s not always easy.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, MissManners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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