Friday, October 10, 2008

It's my party, and you'll pay if I want you to.

There was an article on a few weeks ago about inviting people to a party you are throwing and then expecting them to pay for themselves and, in part, for you. I've been invited to a few such parties in the past, some of which were handled (in my opinion) properly, and some not so much.

Friend A was having a birthday party. She gave me the date/time and name of the restaurant, and never mentioned my paying for myself, her or anyone else. Even when talking about it, somehow it conveniently never came up in our conversations that I would be expected to pay.
I picked out a fabulous gift and arrived eager to celebrate her big day. Fast forward to the end of the evening, after several bottles of champagne and a rather extravagant menu, you can imagine my shock when I was handed a bill for my portion that was well over $200 - between this, her gift and parking in the city, I was out close to $350! Until that moment, I had never even heard of being invited to a party and then being expected to pay. I quietly paid the bill and when I tactfully brought my surprise up with her a few days later, she accused me of being a bad friend and not caring about her happiness. Ummm... what?! Needless to say, she is now simply referred to as "A" since the "Friend" part is long gone.

Friend B also had a birthday party with a set menu with wine/beer/soda, tax and tip included, and notified each of us of the price per person beforehand. Knowing that money was tight for us at the time, in no uncertain terms she explained that she wanted me there to celebrate with her and she didn't want us not having the extra money to keep me from coming. She did not expect anyone to pay for her and she paid for half of each person's cost (the restaurant charged $50/head and we only paid $25). She even arranged for any additional bar tabs to be put on individual checks so that each person was responsible solely for their own consumption. Also, she specifically put on the invitations that gifts would not be accepted since "our presence was all the presents" she wanted.

Personally, I am not a fan of these types of celebrations in any capacity and have graciously turned down the last several such invitations. I would be mortified to surprise my closest friends with a $200 per person bill at the end of an otherwise enjoyable night out. At least with Friend B's approach, I knew what the expectations were before I arrived. I realize people throw parties like this for a variety of reasons, but I just could never ask someone else to pay for my own party. Let's not even discuss people who have (vocally) expected me to pay AND bring an expensive gift.

What do you think? Have you ever been invited to a pay-your-own-way party that was done in a "proper" way? Any horror stories?


Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

I've been invited to dinners for friends but they are never arranged by the friend of honor. So another girlfriend might gather everyone and imply that all invited will chip in for the birthday girl's dinner. But again, it's not the friend of honor asking you to pay for her.

I have a good friend, B, who was a bridesmaid in a wedding in Mexico. At a very expeisive resort. That was made more expensive when the price increased to help the bride pay for the wedding. And the bridesmaids were required to stay from Weds-Sun. So essentially the wedding party paid for the wedding!! But no one was told this of course. When the bmaids went to the resort website to check it out, they noticed much lower prices. They called the resort and they spilled the beans on the price difference details.

Some Like it Southern said...

I have been in the same situation as preppy pink crocodile... we take a friend to dinner and previously arrange to pay for her dinner without her knowing - that is understandable. However, talking to a "A" and it never being mentioned is ridiculous! Then to receive a $200 bill at the end of the night, my eyes about popped out of my head when I read that! And then to have the nerve to get upset with you, shame on her!
I agree with you 100% on that one!