From the forums:
Their wedding is the last weekend in June, most things have already been paid for, and they’ve already received a lot of gifts. I told her that she can’t worry about the money everyone’s already spent. I get that she’s under a lot of pressure, but this is the rest of her life we’re talking about, and the last thing she should do is go through with a marriage she feels isn’t right. She went through a few days when she left the apartment she shares with her fiancé and crashed with her sister temporarily. Then on the phone she told me she had decided to break things off with him. I’ve been worried sick about her and called her the next day to see how she was. “We’ve decided to give it one last try,” she said. “And I mean one last try.” I just have a feeling things are going to be very back and forth up until the last minute.
Ultimately, the bride’s first obligation is to herself and what she feels is right. And I know my role is to support her in whatever she decides to do. I’m kind of at the point where I don’t know if I have a wedding to attend in June, and I’ve already bought my train ticket. But my question for you is what, if any, obligation, does she have to me, her other bridesmaids, and her family? — Trying to Be a Supportive Bridesmaid
She has no obligation to you, her bridesmaids or her family beyond treating you with the same respect she’d expect from any of you. She does not have an obligation to get married, even if gifts have already been sent and travel arrangements made and paid for. She does not have an obligation to stay married even if she does go through with the wedding. She doesn’t even have an obligation to reimburse expenses made on her and her fiancé’s behalf if the wedding is canceled at the last minute. I mean, what is she supposed to do? Bankrupt herself paying for everyone’s travel expenses and reimbursing her guests and wedding party for the clothes they bought? Common etiquette does say that if the wedding is canceled, the bride and groom should return all gifts — shower gifts, included — that have not been used, along with a brief thank you. Once the wedding takes place. though, even if the marriage only lasts a few weeks, the couple keeps the gifts.
You say this is your best friend and it may be tempting to tell her not to get married or to cancel the wedding as soon as possible to save the guests as much inconvenience as possible, but putting that kind of pressure on her is only adding to her stress. This is a huge decision she needs to make and it really needs to be about what’s best for HER and not what is most convenient for her wedding guests. We’re talking, at most, one weekend for her guests versus, you know, her life. If she takes up to the last minute to figure out that perhaps getting married isn’t the best move right now, it’s not the end of the world. And if she doesn’t figure it out until after the wedding, it’s still not the end of the world, though it does make things far more complicated for herself.
It sounds like you’re concerned about the travel arrangements that have already been made and whether there’s actually going to be a wedding on the other end of your commute to justify the expense and inconvenience of traveling. But even if there isn’t a wedding, there’s still going to be a best friend on the other end of your commute who will welcome you and whatever support you can give, which should be enough justification to make the trip. Be there for her with a shoulder to cry on. Be there to help her host other friends and family who may have traveled for the wedding — who knows, it may literally get canceled at the very last minute with guests having already arrived. Be there and think of your friend and how confused she must be and put your own needs and annoyances aside for a couple of days and just help someone you care about get through what could likely be a most stressful time of her life. You will be glad you were there when she needed you most.
Finally, if you’re having such a hard time thinking about eating the cost of the bridesmaid dress and alterations and the other expenses related to being in the wedding party if the wedding is canceled or the marriage doesn’t last long, think of it this way: if she ever has a second wedding and asks you to be in it, you will have justification to graciously decline. There’s no reason anyone should have to spend hundreds of dollars as a bridesmaid twice for the same friend. Do it once and you’re done, whether the wedding happens or not. Offering your support and compassion, though, shouldn’t have a time limit.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.