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Friendship burnt when couple is sent $1100 bill for friend's birthday dinner. + New Update

Friendship burnt when couple is sent $1100 bill for friend's birthday dinner. + New Update


"Am I wrong for being blindsided by a friend’s birthday dinner costing me $1100?"


Birthday dinner for a friend costs…$540 per person. My wife and I were invited to a major city to celebrate a friend’s 40th. There were two days in the schedule but we could only attend one because of my work schedule.

We went to a fancy dinner and expected it to be over the top and expensive because it’s their 40th birthday and they have high paying jobs and like to splurge. We met everyone at dinner at a fancy restaurant and found out it was family style 6 course meal. When the check came, our friend’s wife put it all on her card and we assumed the bill would be split up afterwards.

We knew it would be expensive but were ok with it. Went out for drinks after, slept at our hotel, and drove back the next day. Today our friend’s wife messages us that the total, minus tax and gratuity, split between the 13 of us, was $540 PER PERSON.

We figured on the high end we’d spend maybe half that for both of us (we really thought more like $300 total for both of us based on the quality of the food). I’m pretty offended that it wasn’t communicated ahead of time that this meal was going to be a fucking mortgage payment. What do I do here?

Edit 1: We expect to spend a lot of money going out with these friends. We have gone out several times where an evening costs us $250-$300 per couple. But never anything like $1100 just for dinner.

Edit 2: Thanks everyone for the comments. This got a much bigger response than I thought it would! I want to respond to some common comments here.

We truly did not expect the host to pay for dinner. Based on previous events/dinners with this group, we expected to pay for our own meal and drinks. When the bill came, the host (birthday boy’s wife) grabbed the bill and paid it with her card.

We were surprised that it looked like she was paying. But now, a couple days later, she is sending out bills to the couples for their portion of an even split of the dinner. It was not discussed that there would be only one check for the group.

Some of our other friends who came with us and were in on all the same communications leading up to this dinner were also completely surprised by the total amount of the meal. If it matters, they are very well off and still got sticker shock.

This is validating for me because they’ve been with us in this group for many dinners with this couple and also did not expect this outcome. They got a bill for both nights that totaled just shy of $2000 for food and drinks on tabs that were paid (at the time) by the host couple.

For those saying we should have asked ahead of time, I guess this is where I get hung up. We were anticipating a range based on many meals with this group— including birthday dinners. Why would we reach out to the host and ask “this isn’t going to cost us more than $1000, is it?” when every past experience was substantially lower (60-70% less)?

We haven’t asked for an itemized receipt yet, but looked up the cost of the family style dinner per person. Based on what we ate/drank, our total would come to right around $700.

To be honest, I would have been surprised by that amount, but we’re being asked to pay $400 more than that and I think, as many have pointed out, we are getting charged for others’ wine choices.

We will either just send that amount or ask for an itemized receipt, as many have recommended. I believe our next course is, as many have recommended, to pay for what we had and distance ourselves from these people or just never accept another invitation.

Edit 3: my wife contacted the restaurant and it turns out that there is a minimum per person charge that works out to $530 after tax and gratuity for reservations the size of our group. This is $200/per person more than we consumed and the host never told us about it, even when contacting us for payment.

The host would have been aware prior to inviting us, because she would have had to agree to it for the size of group. The restaurant doesn’t do reservations for that size party and has to make a special arrangements.

Here were the top rated comments from readers:


I would need proof before I paid $1100 for dinner.


I have a feeling the "hosts" ordered some expensive wine, which jacked up the price of the dinner.


Not wrong, NTA. I don't know if things are usually different in the upper echelons of society, but to us peasants and peons, planning for expensive things means communicating accurate and prompt expected costs beforehand.

The OP responded here:


The funny thing is that, while these people are well off, I know people that have WAY more money (Wall Street, vacations in Italy, second home in New England) and would never assume that everyone in a party would be down for a $500-$550/per person without discussing it first.


Was someone ordering $500 bottles of wine that only they drank? I would be asking to see the itemized total, and I would split the family-style food costs and pay for your specific beverages. But I would not pay a "share" of high end alcohol that only some of the guests drank.

3 days later, the OP returned with an update.

"Am I wrong for being blindsided by a friend’s birthday dinner costing me $1100? [UPDATE!]"


First off, if you’re interested in the full story, please check the original post. We (my wife and I) wish we had done more research, of course. We didn’t, because we’ve gone to plenty of expensive (to us) meals with this couple for anywhere from $100-$300.

With $300 being the absolute most we’ve ever spent, and have an expectation that our friends would communicate if something was going to be substantially different than what we’re used to. Our mistake.

The majority of comments mirrored our feelings that this minimum or even the average ticket price of the restaurant should have been communicated by the host ahead of time and that this lack of communication is bizarre and pretty tacky.

There were lots of comments saying we should have looked up the menu, etc. and obviously, in hindsight, we wish we had. But the reality is that even if we HAD looked at the menu, this was, unbeknownst to us, a special event.

Our host had selected a prix fixe menu with a table minimum that they did not communicate to us or anyone else. Other guests in our group were just as surprised by the final amount.

Many other comments said not to pay them at all, which I could not seriously consider. Even though I’m upset by the situation, I totally intended to pay our own way, just not to be stuck paying for other people’s expensive tastes. Which is why we ended up texting the host that we were very surprised by the total price and asked to see a copy of the receipt.

To her credit, she sent it right away. It confirmed the minimum price for the table and that others in the group had ordered very expensive wine and drinks that brought the overall bill up to and above the minimum. We added up our total which, hilariously, comes to $666. So that’s what we’re sending them. Approx $430 less than what they initially requested.

Not sure where this leaves the friendship, but we won’t be accepting dinner invitations any time soon. My wife and I had a blast reading your responses and appreciate all of your perspectives! We’ll be cooking dinner at home for awhile.

Here were the top rated comments from readers after the OP's update:


$666, the mark of the feast.


Not today, Seitan.


"It confirmed the minimum price for the table and that others in the group had ordered very expensive wine and drinks that brought the overall bill up to and above the minimum"

Interesting added information. I think what you did was fair. If people are ordering expensive drinks for themselves not sure why that would be split. Definitely something that should have been communicated beforehand.


Wow, this is wrong in so many levels. Why wouldn’t they tell you how pricey it was going to be? Are they the kind of people who just assume everyone has money like they do?

Good for you for just paying what you consumed, I’d have done the same. That’s total BS to split the bill evenly when some folks ordered super expensive wine and you didn’t. I refuse to subsidize others’ expensive tastes.


They split the bill evenly amongst the guests even though others ordered expensive drinks and wine?!?! Wtf? Totally, 100% NTA to only pay your part of the bill.

So, what do you think the proper etiquette is here? Do you think the OP made the right call? What would you have done?

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