Cents and SensibilityAdvice for the Bridesmaid on a BudgetMary Dacuma

Being a bridesmaid is one of sisterhood’s greater honors. It’s an opportunity for ladies to bond and share in the one-of-a-kind, landmark moments in each others lives. But bridesmaid-hood comes with certain expectations on your time, loyalty and money. While you strive to live up to those expectations, you also want to make sure you don’t go broke in the process. So before you excitedly create a new Pinterest board, here’s some advice for the bridesmaid on a budget.

First and foremost, it is going to be expensive and you should make peace with that now. If you are not in any position to cover anything expensive, be upfront about your situation right away. Tell the bride that you are honored to be such an important part of her big day, but you are on a very tight budget. She can factor this into her wedding planning early on. The open lines of communications prevent resentment in the stress-filled days before the wedding.

If you’re really in dire straits and aren’t the bride’s sister or best friend ever, you may even want to consider turning down the offer. Again, let the bride know that you are so elated to have been considered and it means a lot to you. But much to your dismay, you won’t be able to fulfill your duties and would hate to put a damper on her special day. You can even offer to play a different (and less expensive) role. If she is a true, considerate friend she will understand.

If you’ve assessed your finances and realize you can fulfill your bridesmaid duties, it’s time to set a realistic budget:

  • The Outfit: The Knot Bridesmaid Handbook says to expect to pay anywhere between $100-700 for your dress prior to alterations. Depending on the bride’s preferences, you may need to purchase shoes and accessories. It’s also up to the bride whether or not you will cover your own hair and makeup.
  • The Travel Costs: Some brides have been known to help with airfare and lodging for the ceremony, but this is entirely at her discretion. So until she offers, budget for the full cost of travel. There may be some traveling involved for the shower, engagement party, bachelorette party and other events. You may want to discuss with the bride or coordinating bridesmaids. If you are local to the bride and/or ceremony, you are not entirely off the hook with the travel costs. You’ll likely take the lion’s share of errand running. Those gas costs and constraints on your time will eventually add up.
  • The Events: As a close friend you are most likely going to give the happy couple a hefty gift. But depending on the bride and groom’s preferences, there may be a few other events wherein gifts are graciously expected accepted. This includes the engagement party, bridal shower and bachelorette party. For the latter two, you will most likely be on the hook for the costs of the event.

This is a hefty list of expenses. But the good news is there are ways to cut back without getting in the way on the bride’s dream wedding:

  • Ultimately, the bride has final say on the dress that you may or may not despise. But if you live by the other bridesmaids or will see them often, send the order to one person’s address to save on shipping or even the unit price per dress.
  • Team up with other members of the wedding party to get the bride a spectacular group gift rather than getting one on your own.
  • Multi-purpose your events. When my cousin married last spring, the bridesmaids hosted a spa bachelorette party the day before the wedding that included mani-pedis and facials for all. It was cheaper than paying for beauty treatments AND a bachelorette party. Plus, strippers weren’t really our thing.
  • If you are a smart shopper and can find items on the registry at a lower cost elsewhere, then buy it where you get the best deal. Afterward, call the registry and let them know the gift has been purchased elsewhere to prevent duplicate wedding gifts.
  • Take a note from Kristen Wiig‘s character in Bridesmaids – give a sentimental gift you made yourself! You don’t need to fly a bride to Paris to honor your friendship. Besides, baguettes have a ton of carbs.

Being a part of your friend or family’s wedding party is an important privilege. But it’s not something worth losing credit score points or a friendship over. Between a bride and bridesmaid, the key to maintaining that you are still as close after the wedding as you were beforehand is outlining the boundaries and expectations far in advance. By being honest and considerate, you and your soon-to-be wedded friend will navigate the stressful, albeit exciting waters of wedding planning and come out no worse for the wear. And for all you know, you may end up bonding closer than ever.

Image by Shutterstock

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  1. Sadly in today’s economy most brides can’t afford to pay for everyone in the bridal party to be a part of their wedding. So both sides Bride and bridal party need to figure out ways to lessen the financial blow to everyone involved. I’ve been a bridesmaid four times in the last 2 years–and yes my bank account is still feeling the aftermath. However, for me I made the right decision accepting my friends’ request to be a part of their special day.

    Luckily for us perpetual bridesmaids wedding vendors are taking notice of our financial hardships. Here are some things I recently discovered during my recent adventures in Bridesmaids Land.

    David’s Bridal offers a diverse selection of dresses.For the last 2 weddings I was a part of each dress cost me about 80 dollars after alterations.

    Etsy is a great place to find reasonably priced and really unique favors for wedding showers.

    Pinterest is a great place to find inexpensive ideas for party favors and ways to individualize bachelorette parties to meet the needs of your diverse group.

    In the last wedding I was in the bride went home with a ton of decorations and special treats all put together by her bridal party for minimum cost.

    Yes bein a part of weddin is expensive. But as Mary said, there are ways around it. And some times going to DIY route adds more personality to the experience.

  2. Wow, I never knew that the bridesmaids were expected to pay for anything. Obviously I do not know much about weddings, but that seems inconsiderate to make bridesmaids pay for anything. If the bride wants a bridal party, I think they should budget for one. The bridesmaids have to wear what the bride wants anyway.

  3. I was recently asked to be bridesmaid for my mum’s best friends wedding next year, it’s the first time I’ve even been to a wedding, let alone been in the bridal party so to say I’m excited is a total understatement. This was soooo helpful and just made me even more excited about the whole thing! (: thank you for the tips!!