WASHINGTON — The Twitter profile for jilted bridesmaid Courtney Duffy went dark for a while. It shifted from public to private after the Dartmouth MBA student posted a now-viral tweet asking JetBlue to refund an airline ticket she bought to attend her friend's wedding.
School commitments were going to keep Duffy from attending the full run of events leading up to the wedding, including a bachelorette trip. If you've ever been in a wedding party, you know that being a bridesmaid is not a show-up-and-say-"hey" responsibility.
Duffy couldn't make it across the country in time to participate in all the festivities. So the bride asked her to bow out, delivering the news by email. The bride also asked Duffy to return the bridesmaid "jumpsuit."
Let's quickly dispense with the issue of an email as a way to communicate a dismissal. Caring people do such things with their actual voices. You don't fire people via email.
But let's keep this in the personal-finance realm. Duffy — a student, after all — pleaded with JetBlue to refund the money for her airline ticket. She posted a screen shot of the email from the bride as proof of her dumping.
Her now-deleted tweet said: "I am laughing & crying & must avoid this wedding at all costs. Pls help?"
JetBlue did agree to refund the value of Duffy's ticket, which she can now use for another trip. But by making her business public, Duffy invited people to comment on her situation. There were those who thought the bride, Alex, was right to get rid of Duffy because she couldn't fully participate in the wedding events. Others thought the bride was being a Bridezilla for kicking Duffy to the curb.
When I read about Duffy's dilemma, I saw something deeper.
How often do we say yes to a friend's request even when we know it's going to be a financial strain?
"When I asked you, I was really hoping that you could be a part of this whole thing — the bachelorette trip, at least the weekend, prep and the full night of the event (a Sunday night flight means you won't even be able to be there for the whole wedding)," Alex wrote in the email shared with the world. "The whirlwind nature of what your travel has become just won't work with the duties as a party member. I'm so, so sorry!!"
From the context, it appears there was a multiday bachelorette celebration. Wow. Did the bride fund the trip? I doubt it.
Wedding party participants almost always cover the cost of their own outfits — tux or dress, shoes, jewelry, etc. They are often expected to help pay for a bachelorette or bachelor party. And of course there's the expense of the dreaded destination wedding.
At least the bride was willing to cover the cost of sending the jumpsuit back, writing, "I'll Venmo you the postage and the cost of the jumpsuit — just let me know the total."
As friends, you are expected to push financial prudence to the backburner. Student or not, flushed with savings or not, you'd better accept when asked to be in a wedding or risk having your friendship questioned.
What Duffy might have heard in the request for her participation is, "If you love me, you'll say yes to the bridesmaid dress (or jumpsuit in this case), bachelorette party trip, rehearsal dinner and all things wedding related."
And, this peer pressure doesn't stop at weddings. There's the family reunion, extended group vacation or visit-the-relatives holiday trip, special anniversary or birthday. You know — or feel — that you'd better find the money somewhere or be considered too cheap to care.
Whatever we think of Alex the bride, Duffy shares some responsibility in this mess. She did agree to be in the wedding even when she might not have had the time or money to do it all.
Don't be guilt-tripped into accumulating credit-card debt to be where you can't afford to go. If you don't have the money or it's not in your budget, say so.
"Weddings have gotten totally out of control — this is about more than just an email," Duffy tweeted. "I'm hoping this thread reminds future lovebirds and bridal parties to keep their feet on the ground :)."
As a friend or family member, it means something when you show up.
But pressured or not, when asked to partake in these life events, you have to be strong enough to answer with your economic reality. The sum total of your friendship or relationship shouldn't be measured by your financial inability to attend an event.
Michelle Singletary writes a personal finance column for The Washington Post. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.