Is it rude for friend to request I buy a new outfit for wedding?
April 23, 2016 4:36 PM   Subscribe

I was not expecting this additional expense and was planning to wear something I already owned. Would it be rude for me to refuse?

I was ambivalent about attending this wedding in the first place bc I only consider the bride an aquaintence and don't really know anyone else going as she doesn't have many friends (just me and another girl that I've met twice), guests are mainly family. Plus bc it's expensive to attend as I would be expected to give a cash present. I was trying to see if I could come up with an excuse out of it before mailing back the RSVP by the deadline but before then she messaged me personally and requested I go to a link online instead to RSVP as soon as possible. Not knowing what excuse to give as to why I can't go I did as requested and figured I'd go and make the best of it and would probably have fun but recently she told me she could come with me to help me buy an Indian outfit to the wedding. This took me by surprise as I didn't think this was a requirement as I have never attended an Indian wedding before. I told her I was planning to just wear something nice I already owned but she said that everyone else would be wearing an Indian dress. She told me she helped the other friend buy one and it cost around $100. Seems she really expects this of me bc she has already brought it up twice. I told her no need to come with me and that I can go on my own to the store she suggested to check it out. I'm not Indian so I would never again have the opportunity to wear this outfit that I'm expected to buy just for the wedding. This kind of put me off bc this is an unexpected expense in addition to the wedding gift. Is this a reasonable request? Should I just suck it up and buy it and chalk it up to a lesson learned or should I tell her I don't really want to buy a dress I'd never wear again and ask if I can wear what I already have which would be a nice formal conservative dress?
posted by CheeseAndRice to Society & Culture (54 answers total)
I would contact her and politely back out. The line "I'm sorry, that won't be possible" should be repeated as many times as possible.

And your friend seems incredibly controlling. If she hasn't done something this controlling before, then maybe it's just a wedding thing. But if she has, it may be time to end the relationship.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2016 [20 favorites]

This is 100% not okay.

If anything, my Indian friends have been on the side of "you know you don't need to wear a saree, right?" as in "we know white people mean well but whoo cultural appropriation is a really complicated thing amirite pls don't". [If you are IN India, that might be a different scenario a little bit, but nobody still would expect a non-family person buy a saree or salwar kameez if they don't own one.]

I would tell her you wish her well but you won't be attending. Send a card with a modest amount of cash (or don't). Don't be friends with her anymore. This is not an okay way to treat people. If you really feel you must go, tell her you are wearing a conservative dress you already own, end of discussion.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:46 PM on April 23, 2016 [31 favorites]

Here's an excuse: your sister-in-law or cousin needs you to stay with her kids that weekend and trusts no one else.
posted by k8t at 4:52 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think I'd go with complete honesty: Friend, I'm kind of embarrassed to say, I don't have the money to spend on a one-off dress. I can wear a dress I already have? If it would ruin your theme or offend your family, I understand, but I'll have to miss the wedding then. [Nothing personal, well wishes, etc.]
posted by ctmf at 4:52 PM on April 23, 2016 [76 favorites]

Is it possible that this is just a misunderstanding? Maybe she thinks that you might feel uncomfortable being dressed differently and is trying to do you a favor. You don't say that she's told you it's an expectation; only that you feel it it so because she has brought it up twice.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:02 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

If you still would like to attend if you can wear what you choose, you will need complete, blunt, explicit honesty: tell her you do not have a spare PENNY to spend on a new outfit and would need to wear something you already own. Don't use wishy-washy phrases like "I'd really prefer not to.." or anything like that.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:04 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

Well, by now you’re well past that window of indecision you had, you have accepted the invitation and well, it’s a wedding. If everyone else is going to dress as the bride requires, well it doesn’t matter how reasonable or unreasonable the request is (and if it is a traditional family wedding then it may be more reasonable than, say, fancy theme weddings, no?) - if that’s the deal for everyone, I don’t see how you can refuse, it would indeed be rude to ask to be the only exception. Sorry!

Think of it this way: you get invited to a party, hopefully going on all day/night, and you get drinks and food and hopefully lovely fun people to be around. There are worse deals than this, no?
posted by bitteschoen at 5:11 PM on April 23, 2016

Maybe if it's that important to her that you wear one, one of her relatives might be able to lend you an outfit. I wouldn't be at all embarrassed to ask. It might also give you a new friend to hang out with at the wedding.
posted by superfish at 5:21 PM on April 23, 2016 [15 favorites]

"Gigi, I'm so sorry, I won't be able to make it. Thank you so much for the invitation."

Send a gift.

Drift apart quickly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:29 PM on April 23, 2016 [10 favorites]

Yeah I think it's rude. It's possible she just doesn't want you to feel different from the other guests. You could tell her you feel fine being different. Or you could back out. If you're annoyed enough to be asking this question, you've reached my threshold for backing out! People's plans change if they're close to the wedding party or not. Just say you regret you won't be able to attend if you don't want to deal with it!
posted by Kalmya at 5:32 PM on April 23, 2016

You're under no obligation to attend any party where a requirement you didn't know about is brought up after you accept the invitation.

In fact, you're never under any obligation to attend any party you've been invited to. That's why you get an invitation instead of a summons.
posted by xingcat at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2016 [59 favorites]

It's an odd request. I've attended Indian weddings, and when I asked my friends for advice, I got "no black/white" and dress in something flowing enough so you can dance. If it's a conservative family, you want to avoid cleavage or tight dresses. Is it possible your friend is just using Indian dress as shorthand for all of the above?
posted by frumiousb at 5:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't go, you don't want to go anyways and this is obviously too much for you, it will not be an enjoyable time. One RSVP cancelling is a small small thing in her overall wedding plans, you will not cause any big problems and your absence will not be noticed. Your mom is sick, or whatever, you can't go. Easy.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:39 PM on April 23, 2016

In any case, it's completely okay to say that you can't afford a new outfit for a wedding. You can say: "Friend, I would really like to come and help you celebrate, but I really can't afford to buy an outfit I won't be able to wear a lot going forward. Can you give me some advice for a wardrobe based on clothes I have?"
posted by frumiousb at 5:39 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

... what? I'm Indian, and there's no expectation of non-Indians having to wear Indian clothes.

I would politely back out, send a gift, and breathe a sigh of relief at having dodged a bullet.
posted by Tamanna at 5:50 PM on April 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

You already RSVPed yes, right?

I would explain that the expense of an outfit is not in your budget, and ask if you can borrow something. I'm sure she or someone in her family has something you could wear. (I'm Indian and I think this would be a totally reasonable request coming from a non-Indian person attending an event where everyone else will be wearing Indian formal wear.) If she says it's non-negotiable that you buy an Indian outfit, then I think you can back out, because that's kind of crazy.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:01 PM on April 23, 2016 [20 favorites]

Send your regrets. She can in no way compel you to purchase a new outfit that you cannot afford, and the fact that you had already RSVP'd does not socially require you to do so either. Rest assured that it is far more gauche for her to attempt to burden you with the cost of a new outfit than it is for you to retract your RSVP.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:12 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

Between "go, and spend money and do whatever the bride says" and "don't attend at all and never explain why," there is a wonderful but only barely risky wonderland of "let the bride know that you aren't interested in owning an Indian outfit but you'd still be willing to attend if that would be a good way to support her."

This would actually be like a gift to her, since she sounds a bit socially clueless. It might also be a good example for her if she feels totally obligated to do every single expensive thing that her casual friends demand of her. Show her that saying "no" doesn't mean that you don't like or respect her, just that you prefer to spend your resources elsewhere (like on useful gifts for the new couple, or supporting needy causes, or something).
posted by amtho at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Others have commented on the weirdness of demanding that a guest (not a member of the wedding party, but a guest!) wear a particular kind of dress, so I will leave that aside, other than just to say that I find it weird too.

But you also said: "Plus bc it's expensive to attend as I would be expected to give a cash present."

If you are in the US (like many Mefites), no one can expect you to give a present. It's traditional to give one, but that doesn't mean that an invitation comes with an expectation of a present. It's not a shakedown! I was very happy to see my wife's and my friends and relatives at our wedding, and we sat down after the honeymoon to send thank-you notes to those who had given gifts, but it never crossed our minds to compare the guest list with the gift list. That would have been tacky, and in any case, we invited people we wanted to share the day with, not people we wanted to extort.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:22 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

At a swap meet, someone just gave me an outfit she got for an Indian wedding -- dress, shawl and bangle bracelets. Memail me if you want me to check the size and send it to you! I haven't tried it on, but from holding it up, it looks like it's around a size 8.
posted by xo at 6:33 PM on April 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

Yes it is rude. Back out politely but firmly and decide later if you want to keep this friendship.
posted by emjaybee at 6:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd ask about something I could borrow. I've always wanted to dress up for an Indian wedding, seems like a great excuse where no one can give you the cultural appropriation side eye (I kind of hope no one would do that at any Indian wedding where the family was wearing traditional Indian garb).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:46 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

The bride is being rude on a couple of different levels, and the best thing you can do here is to back out of attending, as soon as you can.

Assuming your already-owned outfit is both appropriate and in good condition, the bride insisting anyone not in the actual wedding party (bridesmaid, mother of the bride, etc.) wear a specific costume is rude. Insisting you buy the exact costume she picks out for you is rude. Insisting non-Indians wear Indian clothing is rude. Insisting you purchase an outfit she "helps" you pick out is rude.

Cancel your RSVP. Send a gift if you want, although it sounds like she's being rude there too: no one is EVER required to give a wedding gift; it's not some kind of 'admission fee' to attend her wedding.
posted by easily confused at 6:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's not rude to ask someone to dress a certain way to dress a certain way for an event, though possibly a tad inconsiderate. It's very rude to do so belatedly after you've gotten an RSVP out of them. So yeah, rude. But I wouldn't assume that she's being controlling by wanting to be there for the shopping.

I've never heard of a hard, unstated(!) rule that people have to dress in Indian clothes at an Indian wedding. I've only done so myself because I already had the clothes, and there always seem to be some people there in Western clothes (especially men and younger folk) regardless of their ethnicity. There are plenty of clothes that would blend in.

If it was an unavoidable requirement, the done thing among people I know would be to find you an outfit to borrow, since most of the Indian folks have entire closets that they won't be erasing that day.

In your place, I might go to the shop (or another shop) without her and see if there isn't a nice skirt or shiny pashmina you that wouldn't be a one-occasion deal for you.
posted by zennie at 6:57 PM on April 23, 2016

lol... "wearing" somehow became "erasing" in above comment.
posted by zennie at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2016

Another Indian chiming in to say this is an incredibly rude and unusual request. I have been part of many weddings and I've never ever heard of this. If anything, Indians bend over backwards to make sure their guests are comfortable; this type of demand would be considered the height of rudeness. It makes no sense and must be a personal thing for her.
posted by yawper at 7:13 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

You're certainly under no obligation to buy the dress if you don't want the dress. And you're also not under any obligation to tell her what you're wearing to her wedding. But as an aside, if this is a person who has normally been kind and reasonable in the past, I would give her a pass for going bridezilla around her wedding. Weddings are incredibly stressful, monumental, ohmygodthisissupposedtobethegreatestmomentofmylife events and people can sometimes lose their minds. Yes, she is acting inappropriately, but a few month/years after the wedding, she will probably be incredibly embarrassed about how she acted. Not that I have any personal experience in this area . . . Don't take it personally, it is literally all about her.
posted by defreckled at 7:16 PM on April 23, 2016

Are you sure her offer to "help you buy" this item isn't a convoluted way of saying she'll pay for it?
posted by teremala at 7:35 PM on April 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

If there was a dress requirement it should have been on the invite. There's some cultural stuff at play, and if the is the US and the person is reminding you not to wear cutoffs and a Metallica tshirt to the wedding, that would be one thing. If they are telling you after the RSVP that they need you to wear a specialized outfit - that is a surprise and despite any kind of way they try to make you feel you are TOTALLY okay to demur.

On preview: great point, if the person wants to take you out and buy the needed outfit, it would be a mitzvah for you to let her. Tough thing to figure out though.
posted by ftm at 7:38 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

That's odd. I would never have expected anyone to buy an Indian outfit for my wedding (although a few friends did but they asked me about it). I mean, even my mother in law just borrowed a sari from my mom, all she had to pay for was getting a blouse tailored to fit her. I think you should explain to her that you can't afford to buy an Indian outfit, and that you would not be uncomfortable being the only one wearing western clothes (because surely that's why she suggested it, ahem, clears throat), but you are very excited to attend her wedding. If she insists, then you tell her sorry, I can't do that, if you insist, then I'm going to have to decline the invitation. But if you decline, make sure you still send a gift.
posted by echo0720 at 7:40 PM on April 23, 2016

I think you may be discovering why she doesn't have many friends.

I would use the cash gift for the outfit if it was that important, b/c in my mind it is one or the othet but not both.

It's okay not to go, it is okay not to give gifts and it is okay to wear something appropriate that you already own.

I would feel like I'm culturally appropriatin all over the place by wearing Indian dresses, it's just not my culture at all.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:14 PM on April 23, 2016

Is this a reasonable request?


Should I just suck it up and buy it and chalk it up to a lesson learned


or should I tell her I don't really want to buy a dress I'd never wear again and ask if I can wear what I already have which would be a nice formal conservative dress?

Don't ask. It is, frankly, none of her business what you wear. If you are still minded to go to the wedding after this appalling behaviour from the bride, just say that you already have an outfit.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:37 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yep, I'm casting yet another vote for be honest.

"Hey there Bridezilla, sorry, I'm not going to buy a specific dress for your wedding. I have a lovely gown of my own already. If that's not going to work for this event, I understand, but I regret I won't be able to attend."

Then send a gift if you want to. If you plan to stay friends I think it would be nice to send one, but I wouldn't break the bank buying it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:06 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

You say you are expected to give a cash gift. I'm assuming this expectation came from the bride. That in itself is rude. You don't have to give a cash gift. You don't even have to pay attention to wedding registries, which exist as a convenience. A gift is something you choose to give. I'm normally a stickler for RSVPing meaning you have to go unless you are sick or there's an emergency, but you agreed to come and were not told until afterwards that there would basically be a surcharge in the form of your having to buy new clothes. So you have this internet stranger's permission to say that you can't possibly come if you need to buy a new dress (and I agree that you don't ask her - you just tell her that is a fact). I attended an Indian wedding in a Sikh temple and was told that I would need to cover my head and remove my shoes in the temple, which is totally reasonable, but there was no expectation that the those of us who weren't Indian would wear Indian clothing. I wore a scarf that I already owned, and head coverings for non-Sikh men were provided at the door. That is my experience of Indian hospitality.
posted by FencingGal at 9:23 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

If this person really isn't close to you and it isn't someone you need to have a future relationship with, why not just find a way to make this work? Indian weddings are fun and the food is good, even if the bride is whack! I'd go with telling her you can't afford a new outfit but you'd like to borrow one, if she knows anyone who could help out. If not that, you can MeMail me your size and I can see what I can do. I live in India--so could either send you something from my wardrobe or pick up something $30 or less.
posted by whitewall at 9:39 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, I'll start by saying that yes it's unreasonable, and no you don't have to, and your options are, as other people have eloquently laid out: 1) tell her you can't and that you'll understand if she doesn't want you to come; 2) ask to borrow something if you feel comfortable doing so; 3) rescind your RSVP; 4) use your intended gift money to buy the outfit if you want to.

But I also wanted to raise something else. You mention that this woman only seems to have two friends. You mention that she offered to go with you and help you find something. Is it possible that some part of what she's doing here is because she's lonely and feeling like she wants more wedding-related trappings, but doesn't have enough friends to have them? Things like dress shopping and showers and bachelorette parties and pre-wedding girl-bonding activities are important to some people. But if you're a person who wants that stuff, but you don't have any close friends who will offer to go shopping with you or throw you a party, you might feel like you're missing out on something, and you might feel lonely. Is it possible that what's important to your friend is not so much the dress, but rather that the dress is an excuse to have a fun shopping trip with someone whom she (apparently) considers to be one of her two closest friends?

I ask about this not because I think it changes whether you're obligated--it does not. You do not have to go shopping or buy anything you don't want to for this wedding. But you might, if you want to, consider whether offering this woman some other pre-wedding experience of girl-bonding that isn't so pricey might fulfill a social need for her, and make rejecting the dress feel less like a rejection. "Let's go get a manicure a few days before your wedding!" might be more doable for you. If that's something you'd be interested in, consider suggesting not just an alternate solution to the dress issue, but also an alternative to the social experience of shopping for it that she may be craving.
posted by decathecting at 9:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [19 favorites]

I'm Indian American , and all the many, many family Indian weddings I've attended in the US have had the bride 1) asking if her friends even wanted to wear Indian clothes (totally ok if not) 2) giving them some options (which could be refused) and 3) buying and paying for the outfits or lending them ones. Some of the friends offered to pay on their own, but this was never the expectation.

Perhaps since the other friend said yes to the outfit, she assumed you would too? I think your reason that you would have no occasion to wear the $100 outfit again is a good one to tell your friend . Perhaps she has one you could borrow instead? Or knows someone who could lend you one?

I also don't understand the mandatory cash gift part, but that's another question .
posted by bluefly at 4:17 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bridezilla is imposing on you her view of what she wants her wedding to be. This may be motivated by what she feels her parents and family expect of her (totally legitimate pressure for her to crack under, but not legit for her to extend upon you). If you feel she's a good enough friend to try to press the issue, it may be a help to her to ask her *why* she expects you to wear Indian dress. This may result in her saying that she was concerned about your feelings of fitting in (easily resolved: I'll wear what I have), or may reveal that she's in the control-freak phase some brides experience (also easily resolved: bye!). If she's not a good enough friend for you to put yourself through the ensuing bride drama then tell her you can no longer attend, no excuse/reason necessary. Final headcounts don't go to caterers until one to two weeks prior to the event so it's less an imposition to back out early than she may imply. (And if things get ugly, please forgive her - brides experience incredible pressure and get very shortsighted during the wedding planning process. She may realize later that she regrets something said/done in the heat of the moment.)
posted by AliceBlue at 5:06 AM on April 24, 2016

Reasonable would have been telling you about this requirement before asking you to RSVP, not after. Coming up with this additional rule after you said you could go is the perfect way for you to drop out.

She gets to have whatever type of wedding she wants to have with as many rules and regulations surrounding it as she cares for. She also needs to be communicating with people to let them know what's going on with that, so they can make an informed decision as to what they want to do. It's not rude to say "dress code is X" when you send the invites out. It is rude and inappropriate to be doing it afterwards.

That said, I think that if you want to go, you have to play by her rules. She gets to set the cost of admission and in this case, it's Indian dress. Turning up while ignoring her dress code would be rude. This gives you a perfect out - "I'm sorry, Alice, but I'm not going to be able to make it. I don't have any money for a dress. Have a fantastic day, CheeseAndRice." Leave the second sentence off if you like. Leave it in if you want to go and you think she'll cover the cost of the dress.
posted by Solomon at 5:43 AM on April 24, 2016

Look, everyone may be absolutely right about her request being too demanding, it may be unreasonable to expect everyone to be dressed a certain way, and rude and inappropriate to only bring it up after the RSVP, but that STILL doesn’t really help solve the question of how to deal with the situation in a responsible polite manner now, after having already accepted the invitation AND promised to go to the store to buy the dress.

That does make it at least pointless, if not equally inappropriate, at this stage, to ask her to make an exception for a single guest. What’s she gonna say that’s different from what she already said?

I wouldn’t like it myself any more than you or anyone else here, but I genuinely don’t see a simple non-insulting way to avoid the dress requirement, at this late stage, other than

a) lying, making up an excuse to back out of the whole thing at this post-RSVP stage (and post "I can go to the store on my own") (but this means it has to be a lie of the sudden emergency variety, illness, family, etc. and it’s a bit extreme by now, and it’s up to you to see how comfortable you can be with lying to get out of a situation that you already wanted to back out of from the start even before knowing about the dress)

OR, a far less extreme compromise

b) find a way to borrow the dress from somewhere/someone, but without the bride knowing

Don’t tell her, because if you call her back now to say "hey look I changed my mind, I’m not going to that store like I said I would, I don’t reaaaallly want to spend $100 on a dress I will never wear again", you’d be asking her to help you back out of a promise you already made, and it’s also insulting for her to hear that, because it will translate to "your wedding is not worth my effort and money". You have every right in the world to think that, but it’s not the best of manners to tell it to her face after accepting.

You already said yes to two things you weren’t convinced about in the first place - going to the wedding itself, and going to the store to buy a dress - so you have to at least "suck it up" to deal with that part yourself, you can’t bounce back the responsibility for that to her.
posted by bitteschoen at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

She may be under family pressure to dress her guests. Call her back and ask her if she has something that you can borrow, as you will never wear this outfit again. Or, cancel completely. If you can't go in joy then it's better to stay home.
posted by myselfasme at 7:08 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

She may also be offering to go to the store with you so that you don't get charged the non-Indian (ie like a tourist) price and you are not overwhelmed by all of the choices/materials.
If it were me, I'd say "this is difficult to tell you, but I can't really afford a sari right now - do you or a family member have one I can borrow?" If she says no... then I'd find it odd that she is so sari-centric yet doesn't have a spare one to lend you (most Indian girls have a ton of saris, new AND handed down from moms and aunts). If she actually said no then I'd distance myself from someone like that by cancelling closer to the date and sending a nice card.
posted by treadstone11 at 8:31 AM on April 24, 2016

it will translate to "your wedding is not worth my effort and money".

Yes, there is that. BUT, I think I don't mind saying that after the bride has already, in effect, told me "YOU are not worth having at my wedding if you can't wear the right thing." Which, to be fair, I don't think the bride realizes it's a "can't" situation. She will (should?) probably be ashamed to have put you in that embarrassing position and think of the lending solution on her own.

Or, roll it into the wedding expense budget and buy it for you, since it's "only" a hundred dollars.
posted by ctmf at 9:15 AM on April 24, 2016

$100 seems small to her because she's dealing with the entire project budget context. When your mind gets into "$100 is a rounding error" mode, it's hard to remember what that number means in everyday-life context.
posted by ctmf at 9:26 AM on April 24, 2016

I know of people who've had to deal with being shamed by their family because their friends wouldn't wear appropriate clothing to cultural events like weddings. So the expectation to dress similarly may not necessarily be coming from her but from her family, or other elder-types involved with the wedding, and she's probably already trying to appease them any which way she knows how (especially if the family is paying for the wedding, which isn't uncommon).

Ask if you can borrow something. Ask if a salwhar khameez is OK - they're way easier to wear than saris, are more commonly expected for younger people, and you can still get dressy ones. Or you could do what the French/British side of the family did when my Bangladeshi cousin married a French guy: they had matching kurtis paired with whatever bottom half they wanted.
posted by divabat at 9:33 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

(The benefit of a kurti or salwhar khameez is that it's closer to something that you would more likely be wearing on a regular basis - the kurti more so)
posted by divabat at 9:35 AM on April 24, 2016

(blargh, forgot to end my thought: so you can wear a kurti more than once in other contexts)
posted by divabat at 9:35 AM on April 24, 2016

The bride is giving you an opportunity to practice saying No graciously. Next time she mentions going shopping, cheerfully respond I'm quite comfortable wearing what I already have. or I wouldn't dream of taking up any of your time, and I prefer not to buy new clothes. Saying No with no backspin, graciously, is an excellent skill to have.
posted by theora55 at 11:05 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Your friend is being at least a bit pushy and you're being at least a bit passive, so it's hard to figure out what everyone's actual goal is. She may be being pushy because she's really excited about your coming to the wedding, and therefore taking your passivity as you needing to be cheerleaded into things. You seem to want her to take your passivity as not being excited about any of this, and so you may be taking her cheerleading as bullying. Or she may in fact be bullying you, or just frustrated by your passivity. I think you need to stop saying yes and to stop assuming that she can read your mind when you're being reluctant in saying yes, and it would likely help if you could interpret her motives more charitably.

If it were me, I might try to say or email something like, "Hey, I know you're excited about going shopping for Indian dress, but I really can't afford a new outfit right now, and it's making me feel like I can't attend your wedding unless I have one. Do you have something I could borrow, maybe?" I think if she insists that you purchase something new after you've been clear that you cannot, then you can safely say that you'll have to decline the invitation to the wedding.
posted by lazuli at 11:12 AM on April 24, 2016

You absolutely may opt out of going to the wedding, even though you already said yes. The two things riding on your answer are how many meals will be served and plugging everyone into a seating plan. If you can't/don't want to go, notify the bride right away. Even though you did nothing wrong and were iffy about attending in the first place, apologize and say you wish you could attend and you'll be sending warm wishes their way.

If you say you're bowing out because of the expense of a new dress, it implies that you would go if you got the dress for free. Don't say this unless you're fully willing to go to the wedding. Also, keep in mind that she may be understating the cost, and an appropriate outfit might also involve shoes or other things.
posted by wryly at 12:56 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you and one other woman are her only friends, and she's dressing you to match her wedding by requiring you to buy something you'll never wear again...I regret to inform you you're her bridesmaid. Does this change how you feel about it? Personally, I would feel a little bad for her, and annoyed, but ultimately I'd be a pal and let her have her day, but I totally get it if you don't want to. Just wanted to offer another perspective.
posted by kapers at 10:28 PM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, she doesn't sound like a (ugh) "Bridezilla" to me, just socially inept.
posted by kapers at 10:29 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Perhaps tell her you won't be attending because you would be very uncomfortable with wearing Indian clothing (since you aren't Indian), rather than you don't want the expense of purchasing the clothing --- put your objections down to feeling awkward/cultural appropriation rather than the cost.
posted by easily confused at 4:10 AM on April 25, 2016

because you would be very uncomfortable with wearing Indian clothing (since you aren't Indian)

Argh, don't do this, especially as a non-Indian telling an Indian - it comes off as really 'splainy and disrespectful. She can make the decision about whether it's cultural appropriation for you to wear Indian clothing - from what it sounds like, it's likely more disrespectful not to.
posted by divabat at 4:13 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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