I'm really at a loss here and could use some advice/suggestions. This girl I went to high school and college with is getting married and has asked me to stand in her wedding as a bridesmaid. I really don't want to do it, mostly because we don't have the kind of relationship where it makes any sense for her to have even asked me. Yes, we went to the same high school and college and had many classes together. That was really the extent of the "friendship." We never hung out after school or spent any time calling/emailing/texting each other. As far as I was concerned, we were more acquaintances than friends. Currently we're Facebook "friends" but I use that term loosely as all of her posts are hidden from my news feed. I don't have her phone number or any contact info other than Facebook, which is the method she used to message me that she wanted me to stand in her wedding. We rarely talk and I haven't seen her since I graduated from college seven years ago. She doesn't have many friends at all and has an incredibly small family, which I guess is why I was asked.
She currently lives many, many states away from me (I'm in North Carolina and she's in Nebraska) and will be holding her shower, wedding and all other festivities in her current state. Knowing that travel would probably be an issue, she said she's only asking that I attend the ceremony itself and that she would help pay for some of my travel expenses. Even then, I live on a pretty tight budget and will be standing in the wedding of my best friend only a couple months beforehand, so it's very unlikely I can afford to do both (part of the travel expenses would still exclude the remaining travel and lodging, plus attire, plus gift). Also, my work schedule is pretty chaotic and doesn't allow for much time off, so that would pose a problem. I know I could use these things as excuses as to why I can't do it, but I feel like she will attempt to make concessions for me (that was pretty much spelled out in the Facebook message).
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I've thought the best way to go would be to respond saying that I appreciate being asked but won't be able to do it, without offering any explanation. One of my other friends said this may be the time to be direct and tell her that she clearly thinks of our relationship differently than I do and that I don't feel comfortable being part of the ceremony. Yet another friend told me to cite my budget and work issues and leave it at that. Like I said, I'm at a loss here. How do I say thanks, but no thanks?