DEAR ABBY: I'm in my early 20s and have worked for this company for a few years. One of my co-workers is my age and has always been very sweet. We talk occasionally about casual events in our lives, but I have never socialized with her outside of work and don't consider her more than a "work friend."
When she became engaged, I told her I was happy for her and admired her ring. Out of the blue she asked me to be a bridesmaid! I was taken by surprise, but she looked so hopeful that I agreed. I realize now it was a huge mistake.
She is a nice girl, but we talk only at work, maybe three times a month. She has also asked two other girls from work to be a bridesmaid and maid of honor. They are in the same boat as I am, and both were also shocked to have been asked.
The wedding is a year and a half away. I am worried that it will cost me money. Don't bridesmaids have to buy their own dresses? I would never want someone in my wedding who didn't want to be there and who honestly didn't consider herself my friend. Is there an appropriate way to get out of this and not hurt her feelings? -- DISTRESSED IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR DISTRESSED: It is not necessary to tell your co-worker that you do not consider her a friend. But do tell her that, while you are flattered that she asked you to be a bridesmaid, you responded impulsively without thinking it through and that it would create a financial hardship for you -- which is why you must decline. Obviously, this young woman has no close friends, so do her a favor by not making this a topic of conversation at the office.
P.S. You are correct that it is the responsibility of the bridesmaid to pay for her own outfit.