|Ladies Who Lunch Image, Pinterest|
Before ordering, decide as a group if you'd like one bill or separate checks. If you're on a tight budget and don't want to partake in your friend's caviar and champagne, then requesting individual bills will be the best option. However, if there will be shared dishes and bottles of wine, a single check might be preferable.
Note: When you're celebrating someone's special occasion (i.e. birthday, promotion, etc.) it's lovely to cover their portion of the bill. If you're requesting individual checks, you can simply have their tab added to yours.
If everything is on one bill, split it evenly amongst everyone at the table. Although you might have had one less drink than the friend to your left, in the end you will spare everyone the awkwardness of splitting hairs over a few dollars.
Read the room- you know your friends and how they operate. If you know a squabble over the bill is inevitable and neither of the above tactics will work, I recommend carrying cash so that you can pay your portion and exclude yourself from the madness.