Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Morning Quickie: “Should I Fire My Bridesmaid?”

Bridezilla

After I got engaged in December, I immediately asked five of my close friends to be in my wedding and all accepted. One of those friends, “Julia,” was a former roommate until I moved out of our apartment a year and a half ago due to a pregnancy. I did her a favor by letting her keep our cable in my name for one more year since she couldn’t come up with the $300 deposit to switch it over to her name, plus I was pregnant and had other things to worry about and didn’t have time to continue going back and forth with her on the topic. She and her new roommate ran up the bill to $900 before it was suspended. I was livid and told her so. She promised to handle it. Four months later I asked her to be a bridesmaid ONLY AFTER she assured me that she was handling this cable bill and could afford it and could also afford to be in the wedding. Now I’ve come to find out six months after the service has been suspended that NOT A DIME was put towards the account, and so now I am taking my own money to pay it off to keep any more damage from happening because it is in my name. Am I wrong for firing her as a bridesmaid for this? The wedding is almost exactly a year away, but I just feel like it needs to be done. — A Concerned Bride-To-Be

I’m assuming that, when you asked your five close friends to be bridesmaids, you didn’t tell them you were “hiring” them for the position, right? You didn’t offer them a paycheck, or study their qualifications, or invite other interested candidates to submit resumes. This isn’t a job one gets hired and fired for. That said, you can tell your friend you no longer wish for her to be in your wedding. But don’t disinvite her from the wedding party unless you want your friendship to be over. It’s fine if you do want the friendship to be over. Maybe the unpaid cable bill is the latest in a string of irritations and betrayals, and you’ve simply had enough. But if this is the lone transgression in a friendship that has otherwise been unmarred, instead of “firing” anyone, I’d be much more moved to make sure everything was okay with my friend. I’d worry about what is going on in her life that she racked up a big cable bill — in my name, no less! — and left it unpaid even months after promising me she’d take care of it. If finances were that much of a problem for my friend, I would probably eat the cost of the bill and either volunteer to pay for her bridesmaid dress (and related costs) or gently suggest she take an honorary role with fewer associated costs, like keeper of the guest book or reader of a favorite poem.

Bottom line: If this is solely about $900 and the fact that your friend broke a promise to take care of the bill, then I’m not sure that’s worth ending a friendship over. If the unpaid bill is par for the course and only the latest in a series of thoughtless and selfish acts, then consider this an opportunity to end a friendship that no longer fulfills you.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

32 comments… add one
  • avatar

    artsygirl March 17, 2016, 8:39 am

    LW – Wendy’s advice is spot on. Yes it is infuriating that not only did she run up the bill but she has not paid you back despite her promises, but it sounds like she was extremely flexible when you moved out of the apartment unexpectedly. Was she able to find a roommate immediately or was there time where she carried the entirety of the rent? Have you asked how the bill was run up – was it the new roommate who perhaps didn’t realized/care that you were footing the bill? I would invite her out to coffee or a drink and really try to figure out what happened and how it can be alleviated. It sounds like you have more disposable income than your ex-roommate, could you set up a payment plan where she gives you $50 a mouth to pay off the bill? It sounds like she was one of your closest friends until very recently so please give her the benefit of the doubt.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 17, 2016, 9:13 am

    One thing that deposits are designed to do is to weed out those who can’t afford the price of the service or apartment. The fact that she couldn’t afford the deposit was a big sign that she would have trouble with the bill. Since the bill was in your name you should have been logging into your account and making sure that the bill was being paid in a timely manner. You didn’t do that. When you saw that it was going overdue you should have contacted her and told her you needed her to pay the bill or you would have to cancel the service. If it wasn’t paid within a few days you should have canceled. When you let your name be used for a bill belonging to someone else you must keep tabs on the bill. If you are too busy to do that then don’t keep the bill in your name. At the same time, I would expect a good friend who found that they couldn’t pay the bill would cancel the service or contact you and ask you to cancel the service so that the bill wouldn’t run up and up. Neither of you cared about this bill enough to pay attention to it and pay it. In the future you need to draw a boundary around your finances so that you can’t be left paying for something that you don’t feel is your bill. Good boundaries protect friendships. This is your bill because it is in your name and you need to pay it. Hopefully she will pay you back.
    .
    As for the wedding I assume it depends on whether you still consider her a friend. Do you still like her? Do you still have fun with her? Do you confide in her? Would she be there for you if you needed her? Do you respect her? Do you feel used? Do you feel disrespected? Do you feel more anger and hurt than love and respect? As Wendy pointed out you can’t fire her because you didn’t hire her. You can remove her. If you do your friendship will probably be over. Do you feel it is over anyway?

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  • Portia

    Portia March 17, 2016, 9:34 am

    WWS. I think the best course of action might be asking her if another honorary role with less costs would work better for her, like Wendy mentioned. Piling on with a role that requires spending money is just setting up this friend to fail.
    .
    I can understand that it is frustrating that you’re going to be financially responsible for this large bill, but do try to separate your feelings for your friend and this thing she did. It’s not like the friend intentionally acted maliciously towards you, the bill was going to be run up whether it was in your name or someone else’s. Let this be a lesson not to mix friends and money, but it may make sense to rethink giving her a role in your wedding that requires money.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 17, 2016, 9:54 am

      This bill is really about the indifference of both the friend and the LW. Neither paid attention to it and both allowed it to run up. Neither cared to cancel the service when the friend couldn’t pay for it. It wasn’t malicious but that doesn’t mean that the friend didn’t knowingly allow the bill to run up. She was choosing to spend her money in other ways so she wasn’t totally innocent.

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      • Portia

        Portia March 17, 2016, 11:44 am

        I agree that it’s on both of them that this came to pass. But “choosing to spend her money in other ways” may mean a more expensive heat bill or unexpected medical expenses, or just not realizing the real consequences of her actions. I have friends who are not great with money, but I accept that they’re bad with money and don’t respond to that by trusting them to be better about money. It also doesn’t mean they aren’t a great friend. When I was in a crisis, one of my friends who’s terrible with money was the one who was there for me and I’m glad I didn’t cut her off after a couple of money-related issues came up earlier in our friendship.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros March 17, 2016, 9:45 pm

        I”m not sure the LW could be expected to magically know that the friend couldn’t pay for it.

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  • avatar

    TheGrumpapotamus March 17, 2016, 9:57 am

    I don’t know, I guess I disagree a bit with Wendy and the previous posters. $900 would be a huge amount of money for me to unexpectedly have to pay off, for someone else’s bill no less. Sure, I’d probably want an explanation first just to make sure there isn’t something going on that I don’t know about. However, barring a really good explanation, that amount of money would be enough for me to cut ties with someone.

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    • avatar

      Steph March 17, 2016, 12:05 pm

      I agree with you. When my ex boyfriend and I split (amicably) the cable bill was in my name. I checked it religiously, even when it wasn’t due to make sure he wasn’t renting a ton of movies that he wouldn’t be able to pay for. Direct TV allows you to “suspend” your service. He was 2 days late one time, so I suspended the service until he paid it. He called and asked what happened and I told him that turned it off, if he wasn’t going to pay he wasn’t going to watch TV.He wasn’t late in the year left on our contract.
      .
      I would have cancelled the service if I wasn’t going to have to pay the rest of the contract upfront. I didn’t like Direct TV and didn’t want the services any longer. I would have taken it though if he didn’t pay upfront.
      .
      $900 would be enough for me to cut ties with someone. I realize half of this is the LWs fault, but I think if the friend was a good friend she would have said she was having trouble paying the bill or would have managed her money. I’m assuming the friend paid half of the bill when they lived together, no reason she couldn’t pay half and have the new roommate pay the other half.

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    • avatar

      Loo March 17, 2016, 12:09 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. I would be livid over that $900 bill, and I would probably feel like my friend took advantage of my kindness.

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine March 17, 2016, 10:01 am

    I really hate the attitude that a bride is doing some grand favor to her bridal party. For a very close friend it is an honor to be part of their wedding but it’s damn time consuming and expensive to do for someone who thinks they’re entitled to it.

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    • juliecatharine

      Juliecatharine March 17, 2016, 10:03 am

      Oops trigger happy on the submit button. That being said, $900 is a pretty big bill to run up in someone else’s name and I would definitely consider it a breach of trust.

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy March 17, 2016, 10:05 am

    I see this kind of differently (maybe because I have known a few people like this…). From my perspective, she took advantage of your kindness, ran up almost a thousand bucks in cable bills she didn’t pay, and left you holding the bag. Those companies WILL put that shit on your credit and it will screw you badly. IMO, she didn’t give a shit about you or your credit, and did what she wanted to. Your bill wasn’t a priority because it didn’t hurt her not to pay it. Honestly, you should never have agreed to it, but if she has never screwed you before, I would understand you being kind. Since she has screwed you over, I would probably cut her loose, but that’s just me. It doesn’t sound like she ever made an effort to tell you she was behind and couldn’t pay- probably because she knew you would cut her off and she didn’t want that.

    Then again, maybe I am just jaded because I know too many free loading mooches like this!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 17, 2016, 11:04 am

      I agree. A real friend would care about the bill and your credit rating and would prefer to cancel the service than to harm you. This friend didn’t so I wouldn’t consider her a friend.

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      • avatar

        TheGrumpapotamus March 17, 2016, 11:07 am

        I agree as well. Especially since this was just cable. We aren’t talking about a necessity here (sacrilege, I know).

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover March 17, 2016, 12:15 pm

        That’s what I was thinking. Cable is a luxury. If you can’t afford it, you cancel it. You don’t screw your friend over and stick her with the bill for it.

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    • avatar

      SimontheGrey March 22, 2016, 9:25 pm

      My husband, many moons before he was my husband, made the poor decision to get a store credit card with his girlfriend. They broke up, and he didn’t think to cancel the card. Months later, he got a call from a creditor – the girlfriend had run up the card and not paid it, and it had defaulted. At first his girlfriend wasn’t going to do anything about it, but eventually she was…gently persuaded…to return everything. He cancelled the card, of course. Even now, some 12 years later, my husband wonders what the hell she was thinking by doing that – did she think he would never find out? that the bill would never need to be paid? that he would pay it without questioning?

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  • avatar

    Moi March 17, 2016, 10:23 am

    I would flat out ask her for the money. Explain what it does to your credit. If she dos not have it she probably can’t pay any monies toward your wedding. Give her an out. Tell her that you feel you are putting her in a bad situation by asking her to be a bridesmaid. Tell her you definitely want her at the wedding but you understand that it would be difficult for her to expend money as a bridesmaid. If she still wants to then you have your answer. She is “entitled” and has no interest in reimbursing you.

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic March 17, 2016, 10:39 am

    I think the Bride should have kept tabs on the account; however, I’m sure being her friend and ex roommate she thought she could trust this friend to either be able to pay the monthly bill (usually lower than the deposit) or at least own up to her if she couldn’t afford it. The friend knew she wasn’t paying the bill and likely knew she couldn’t afford it but still let it go. That’s a sucky friend thing to do and if one of my friends I truly trusted did this to me I would be pissed. I don’t have a disposable $900 to put to a bill that’s not mine (or is mine actually).

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  • avatar

    saneinca March 17, 2016, 10:41 am

    LW, I agree with Monkeysmommy and others. I think it is highly irresponsible of Julia to just run up the bill in your name and not even talk to you about it.

    Explain to her why what she did was wrong and that in these circumstances you no longer want her to be your bridesmaid. I guess that means you will lose her as a friend but IMO that is not a big loss.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 17, 2016, 11:10 am

    What is glossed over here: the LW moved out, because she was pregnant, leaving bridesmaid to hunt for a replacement roomie. Unless they were on a month-by-month lease, bridesmaid did not have to just allow LW to walk away from her share of the lease. It sounds like the cable bill was up-to-date when LW left the rental, so either the bridesmaid has suffered a financial reversal or, more likely, she wasn’t able to quickly find a replacement roomie, who was as responsible and in as good financial shape as the LW and the new roomie not pulling her weight has dragged the bridesmaid down. Yes, if she was financially pinched she should have canceled the cable.

    At this point in time, LW has to suck it up and recognize that bridesmaid did her a biggie in letting her walk away from the lease. “I just found out I’m pregnant” is not grounds to screw your friend on your share of the lease.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 17, 2016, 11:20 am

      When I was renting, years ago, if your name was on the lease you owed the rent so it was on you to find the replacement roommate or keep paying rent even if you did move out. I don’t know how people work that now. We don’t know whose name or names were on the lease or if they had a month to month lease. We don’t know if the lw walked out and left the roommate to pay an extra amount every month. Maybe the friend feels like the LW owed her that much money or maybe not. We don’t know.

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    • avatar

      TheGrumpapotamus March 17, 2016, 12:09 pm

      We have no proof that LW broke any lease. It is very common for only one person to appear on a lease, to be on a month to month lease, or for a lease to have a buy out clause. As long as LW gave proper notice, leaving the roommate situation doesn’t have anything to do with LWs responsibility for the cable bill.

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    • avatar

      saneinca March 17, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Remember, it was Julia and her ‘new roommate’ who ran up bill and did not pay.
      And if Julia could not pay, she should have talked to the LW about it.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros March 17, 2016, 5:57 pm

      Let’s not jump to conclusions. We know nothing about the lease or situation. My assumption is that the new roommate replaced the LW.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 March 17, 2016, 11:44 am

    There is something that feels very wrong about sticking a friend with $900 of debt and not even bothering to tell her about it, not even bothering to try to pay it back. Even if $50 of it had been paid that would show she cared.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie March 17, 2016, 11:53 am

    I am not sure that there is any point in drawing a relation between the wedding and the bill. The bill needs to be paid. The LW has a baby and a wedding to pay for. The conversation needs to be about Julia paying her bill and now so the LW can move on with her life, financially, without that burden. There needs to be a deadline in place for Julia to pay and some sort of proof of payment. If Julia does not honor the agreement then it is time to talk about ending the friendship, and only then dis-inviting her as a bridesmaid. Holding a bridesmaid role over her head as leverage to do something she should have already done is unnecessarily ugly.

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  • avatar

    Concerned bride March 17, 2016, 2:43 pm

    UPDATE: I am the concerned bride that intially wrote in to Wendy. Firstly, I say ‘fire’ loosely. Obviously I mean it figuratively and not literally. While I was googling similar situations online before I wrote in, the term ‘fire’ seemed to be used a lot. Secondly, I had talked to her on numerous occasions about the racked up cable Bill after I found out how much was owed on it. Ironically I had checked on the bill back in December right before I got engaged and seen that my ex roommate STILL hadn’t put anything towards the bill so I asked her if she needed me to put something on it to help her and to keep this bill out of collections since it was in my name. She begged me now to because I had my daughter first birthday party and her first Christmas coming up. And obviously, as a friend I asked her what was going on that she kept pushing this off and she just kept reassuring me it was being handled along with her other financial responsibilities she was dealing with so I trusted her. And for the people saying I left her with an apartment when I got pregnant, you shouldn’t assume. I told her I was pregnant in May 2014 as soon as I found out and I lived with her until our lease was up in September 2014. In those months while lovig with her I made her a budget and even looked for other aprenents she could afford and may be interested in. Also, I paid rent and all utilities up til October so she wouldn’t have to worry about anything for at least a month after I moved out. Lastly, I would like to add that me and my fiancé are paying for our wedding ourselves and we are making personal sacrifices ourselves to have the wedding of our dreams & the $900 that I had to pay up for the bill she racked up came directly from our wedding fund that we have been saving in. If I could afford to pay for her dress and everything wedding related then I would, I would do it for ALL of my bridesmaids but that is just not something I can afford to do. And I made sure to ask her ahead of time if she could financially afford to take on being a bridesmaid on top of her bills and he money she owed me and she assured me once again that everything was being handled. I found later that it wasn’t. Hopefully that helps clear some things up with my original letter. Thanks!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 17, 2016, 7:59 pm

      You need to decide whether you want to continue this friendship or if you feel that you aren’t friends anymore. It would be very understandable if you removed her because you no longer consider her a friend and you would rather that she spend the money on reimbursing you for the bill. If she can’t afford the bill it is probably safe to assume that she can’t afford the dress and other things associated with the wedding. If you can’t afford to cover them for her then that means it doesn’t work for her to be a bridesmaid. You could tell her that since you know she can’t afford the bill you assume she can’t afford to be a bridesmaid and you don’t want to be responsible for causing an extra financial burden for her and so you think it is best if she isn’t a bridesmaid.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros March 17, 2016, 5:56 pm

    I don’t think it’s a problem to ask her no longer to be a bridesmaid. I wouldn’t use the term “fire” because it makes you sound like Donald Trump, though. Just be aware that you will no longer be friends with her at this point, but I can see how you might be fine with that. Also be aware that you will probably not get any money from her after that. But I doubt she’s ever going to pay you, and she clearly can’t afford any wedding-related expenses.
    .
    As for some people defending the friend, I mean, yeah, I’m sure she didn’t say, “Let me run up this bill just to be a jerk!” But she kept cable connected knowing she wasn’t paying for it, knowing that it might ruin the LW’s credit, never mentioning it to her, and knowing that she probably could never pay for it. That may not be maliciousness, but it’s selfish.

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  • avatar

    Brise March 17, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Well, she isn’t a reliable friend. Never mix friendship and money. It would be mad to restart a money adventure with her as a bridesmaid. Discuss with her, express your disappointment (once and for all), what you had to do to pay this bill, and explain that an other role in the wedding would be better. She can do something else, as Wendy suggested nicely. If she is a friend, she will feel sorry and accept this good solution. If not, you have your answer.

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    • avatar

      SimontheGrey March 22, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Or, be very, very careful about who you mix it with. My best friend and I own a business together, have lived together for over a decade, share a cell phone bill (now with my husband added on). The three of us trade weeks for groceries, etc. But we set very clear expectations at the beginning of her and I moving in, and later when we all three moved in together.

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  • avatar

    T March 18, 2016, 12:01 pm

    LW, you’ve gone above and beyond to help your friend, and she willingly and carelessly screwed you over. Cable is not a necessity — it is a completely optional expense. If she was having money problems the easiest solution would have been to cancel the cable. Racking it up, and on top of that being dishonest and trying to hide it, is extremely selfish and a pretty big breach of trust. If there are good things about this friendship I wouldn’t necessarily make this extra dramatic and have a big talk about ending the friendship, but I would probably back away from it a little and make it less of a priority. Along with that, I would probably dis-invite her from the wedding party (but still invite her to the wedding), so that I didn’t have a bridesmaid that would bring with her any negative feelings. Blame it on worrying about her costs so that it’s not necessarily a friendship-ender. Another thing to consider: if she’s willing to screw you over on the cable, wouldn’t she be willing to last-minute not be able to buy her dress and end up backing out of the wedding party anyway? You can’t trust her to not add drama to your wedding.

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