The Cut - Tracy, 27, is a bridesmaid in her college friend Melissa's wedding in September. The problem? Melissa is getting married in Tuscany. At first, Tracy figured she'd cobble together the money for it somehow. But now the numbers are starting to get real, and she can't figure out how she'll make it work. She's a teacher in San Francisco and it's hard enough to make rent as it is.
But before we proceed with extricating you from this situation, allow me to play devil's advocate for a minute: Are you sure you can't afford it? It's worth taking another look at your finances - not to assuage your guilt, but because it might be a genuinely good use of your money. Multiple studies have shown that spending on experiences rather than material things results in greater well-being, and I'm pretty sure that availing yourself of an open bar and endless cheese platters under the Tuscan sun would qualify. "If there are expenses you could forgo to attend this wedding, it would probably make you happier in the long-term to do so," says Sarah Asebedo, a professor at Texas Tech University and the president-elect of the Financial Therapy Association. Are you currently spending $20 a day on lunch? Simple changes like that can go a long way.
That being said, this wedding might very well be out of your price range, and it's better to admit it now rather than later. "If it puts you in a severe financial bind - say, you'll have to take on credit-card debt, or wipe out your savings - you shouldn't go," says Asebedo. "You're the one who has to live through those consequences, and at the end of the day, a good friend shouldn't want you to bankrupt yourself."