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When is it OK to say no?

On a well-known online forum, a user expressed her predicament. The original poster (OP) — let’s call her Hannah — is conflicted about whether or not she made the right choice in not allowing her sister-in-law (SIL) to borrow her wedding dress.

Hannah’s brother, in his early twenties, decided to get married a bit too soon.

He was living with his mother, rent-free, which says a lot about his financial standing.

According to Hannah, “He just finished his bachelor program a year ago, is still trying to get on his feet and find a good full-time job in his field, and decides to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding?”

Hannah and her dad tried to talk to her brother about delaying the wedding, at least until he was more financially stable, but they could not persuade the eager husband-to-be. 

A few days later, Hannah received a call from her SIL asking to borrow her wedding dress because she couldn’t afford one.

This call — and request — caught Hannah by surprise. Did her SIL not know the dress would need to be altered? Hannah was unwilling to sacrifice her wedding dress for a wedding that was happening too soon.

Balancing Expectations With Financial Reality

Logic dictates that if you have a limited budget, you should set realistic wedding expectations. But, as they say, the heart wants what it wants.

Hannah’s SIL was not ready to compromise on the quality of her wedding gown. On top of this, she knew that Hannah’s wedding dress was worth thousands of dollars. 

Hannah’s argument was reasonable: If you can’t afford to have the wedding of your dreams, consider waiting until you’re financially stable. Dragging your family along and making them responsible for your wedding is inconsiderate and senseless. 

The Ethics of Borrowing: When Sharing Clothes Becomes a Source of Conflict

Most women would consider it unreasonable to alter — and wear — another woman’s wedding dress — but not Hannah’s SIL. She started crying and begging. She even accused Hannah of not financially supporting the wedding and added that this was her chance to contribute.

Hannah’s SIL eventually involved Hannah’s brother and mother, who collectively felt Hannah was being unsupportive; they argued that it was “just a dress.”

Thankfully, her dad felt different.

Hannah explained, “My dad is on my side and defending me and is now thinking of taking back his financial help due to the sheer audacity of my brother’s fiancée asking me such a thing.”

How Weddings Can Affect Family Relationships

One online user commented, “Tell her to use a sack of flour as a dress if she wants to get married so badly. The entitlement!”

Hannah mentioned she was not close to her SIL and rarely connected with her. The fact that Hannah’s SIL felt entitled to borrow something expensive and personal to Hannah was just irrational.

To make matters worse, Hannah looked bad in front of her brother and mother, who thought she was being unreasonable regarding her dress. 

Why should Hannah be financially responsible for her brother’s wedding?

What Happened When the SIL Got Upset About Borrowing a Dress

“Who pays for their sibling’s wedding[?] Come on now. If my brothers wanted to get married I would tell them congrats and I’ll see you on your big day. Like who asks anyone to contribute to their party? Please don’t give these people a dime. She has a terrible timeline planned so now she gets to have a cheap wedding,” another user commented.

Hannah tried to reason with her SIL. She advised her to make financially smart decisions.

“I basically said to her that she made her bed, so now she has to lie in it and figure it out herself….”

However, instead of backing down, Hannah’s SIL blamed her for not helping her brother financially.

She also spoke with Hannah’s brother and mother, who consequently turned against Hannah. 

Can This Relationship Be Repaired After the Disagreement About Wedding Expenses?

One user stated, “I hate when people assume others have money and it should be spent on them. She should look for a dress within her budget: thrift shops, online sellers, or David’s Bridal. She doesn’t need a dress for thousands of dollars.”

Making family members financially responsible for your wedding can get complicated.

Do you think Hannah was being selfish and unreasonable about the dress?

This thread inspired this post.

The internet has influenced the ideas presented in this article. It does not necessarily align with the views or opinions of Financially Well Off.

This article originally appeared on Financially Well Off.


Chris founded FWO, the ultimate destination for those looking to achieve financial independence, explore the world and stay motivated daily.

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