A friend is having a birthday. She's still kind of new in my town. Our children are friends and I have really liked getting to know her. She has a milestone birthday coming up and some friends of hers from where she lived before want to throw her a party here in her new town. A few weeks ago they sent out a save the date note and asked if people were interested in participating in a group gift. I said yes to both saving the date and to participating in the gift. A few days ago, I received a note indicating the contribution for the ring -- which they'd already picked out -- would be $60 per person. Also, I heard in this same communication that we'd all be celebrating at a rather pricey restaurant in my town. I know the restaurant and its pricing. This party is already tracking at $100+. When I first got the save the date note, I assumed this would be at my friend's house and that the group gift would run around $20 per person.
I in no way want to jeopardize the surprise and fun of this celebration but I am extremely uncomfortable with this, both in terms of what I am expected to spend and they way it's been kind of foisted upon me. I am going to feel horribly embarrassed if I have to back out, which I think I'm going to have to do. One, I can't spend that kind of money. Two, I feel like these people have made assumptions that are ultimately hurtful to people who don't have the same ability to just dive in and spend like this. Then again, they're the ones pulling the party together and the ones coming forward with ideas about gifts and such.
What should I do to ease out of this and make sure my friend's celebration proceeds without incident? I certainly don't want to insult her friends, none of whom I know. What should I do?