A friend of mine, J, has recently become engaged to her partner.
I previously worked as J’s personal assistant. She is a wheelchair user and hired me to help with tasks like washing up and laundry, which involved standing for prolonged periods. At the time, J was very clear; she wanted a very firm line between employee time and friend time, and it was very important to her that she pay me or other PAs for the hours worked.
I stopped working for J several years ago. I am also friends with her fiancé, who introduced us.
Shortly after announcing her engagement, J sent me a text asking if I’d be up for taking an hour or two to help her with the catering at the wedding. They’re planning a two-day extravaganza.
Puzzled, I asked if she and her fiancé were doing most of it by themselves. She told me that they weren’t; they’d hired professional caterers for the first day, but planned to be ‘entirely self-catering’ for day two. They have one friend coordinating, and they’ve asked everyone to pitch in and help. She also mentioned that her fiancé, who struggles with anxiety, finds catering relaxing, as it takes the pressure away from social events, and she had hoped that I’d find it similarly soothing.
While J and her fiancé are lovely people, I’m really surprised that they’d decide to throw a bigger wedding than they can afford and ask people to fill in as staff. I’m particularly surprised considering her views on PAs. I’d think of it as the same issue; if I’m a guest, I’m a guest. If I’m staff, I’m staff. I’m much happier with those restrictions than with blurred lines! I also don’t feel it’s appropriate to ask for help rather than to wait for it to be offered.
Finally, while my partner and I are invited to both days of Wedfest, some people are invited only to the wedding or only to one day of the event.
I’ve declined to help, on the grounds that I’d struggle with the distinction between staff and guest, and citing how much I agreed with her firm line between PA time and friend time, especially since she was describing doing something for her and her fiancé, not with them. I’ve not heard from her since – two months now – though we do regularly have periods where we don’t communicate frequently.
Ehellions, what would you recommend here? Was I too harsh? How would you bring this up? Would you at all? 1127-15
I’ve found over the years that situations such as this are the result of brides having an unrealistic expectation that their friends are there to serve at the wedding…as if their friends owe them and have a duty to make the wedding exceptional. It’s an epiphany moment when you realize that your value to the bride isn’t for the friendship but rather the commodity of labor you can bring to the wedding. You can offer your labor as a gift but that kind of gift, a very expensive one btw, is given at the initiative of the giver. No bride on the planet should ever presume to believe she is owed this gift or worse, actually asks for it as if she expects it to be given to her.