The Broke Girl's Guide To Being A BridesmaidKit Steinkellner

Being a bridesmaid doesn’t come cheap. In fact it’s getting really, really expensive. According to Mint.com, it costs, on average, about $1,695, just to play the role of bride’s best friend. It was all too much for Salon’s Carey Purcell, who recently wrote a piece about how she can’t be a bridesmaid in her friends’ weddings anymore because she just can’t afford it.

How does a girl go from saying “Yes, of COURSE I’ll be your bridesmaid” to watching almost two thousand dollars stage a prison break from her bank account? Well, there’s the bridesmaid dress, which can be $400 (it can ALSO be more). There’s the planning and throwing of showers and bachelorette parties, which sometimes take place out of state and involve planes and hotel rooms. And then there’s the travel expenses, hair, makeup, and mani-pedis on the big day. Let’s not forget the gifts. All that can add up to a scary amount of cash.

So what do you do when you REALLY want to be one of your friend’s go-to girls on her big day but you cannot afford that bonkers-times price tag? Thoughts below.

Be Upfront With How Much You Can Spend On The Wedding

Find a good time to do this early on in the planning process. Sit your bride down and tell her that you love her to the moon and back and you so want to be a part of her day, but you can’t spend more than X amount of dollars over the course of the year. If the bride is really set on $500 dresses and a bachelorette party in Thailand, and you can’t foot that bill, you need to be prepared to sincerely apologize and tell her you can’t be a bridesmaid. Offer to help with the DIY projects, play an attendant role during the big day, you can work together to find a way to be significantly involved in this wedding.

See If It’s Possible For The Bridesmaids To Rent Instead Of Buy Their Dresses

Ideally you have a bride who gives you a paint chip and you can go troll around TJ Maxx for that exact shade of lavender. Or your bride picks $50 dresses for you (that’s what I did). But if your bride is hellbent on expensive dresses, send her links to sites like Little Borrowed Dress and Rent the Runway. Dudes rent their tuxes all the time, we should make this a more popular option for ladies as well.

Make Your Shower and Bachelorette Gifts

I’ve heard of girls making albums for their brides for shower/bach party presents and I think that is the sweetest thing. I had a friend who couldn’t come to my bachelorette party who made Mad Libs for us to play at brunch and it was the loveliest way of her being there without actually, you know, being there. Fancy sheets and lingerie are fun-times, but a thoughtful, personal gesture is equally fun-times (if not more so).

Tip: If you do need to get your bride lacy bits for her sexed-up bach party, I highly rec The French Lingerie Outlet,  the prices are criminally cheap.

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  1. as a bride, i decided to make it more about the experience versus spending unnecessary money- the girls dresses were $20 from kohls, we picked hair styles we could do ourselves, and two of them do makeup. We’re doing wine tours as a bachelorette party, so super cheap. as brides, i feel like we should be trying to make it a fun experience instead of just an expensive one =]

  2. Oh my gosh – I can totally relate! I am a graphic artist, so I do offer my design skills to create their wedding invites (I usually get them printed off of VistaPrint.com or a local printer that I know well). I usually tell the happy couple that the customized design is my wedding gift to them. For the bridal shower – I usually ask the bridesmaids if they want to go in on a gift together, that way we can get one of her most expensive, split the cost and usually keep it under $40/each (depending on the gift of course). The shower we tried to keep it at someone’s home or a small venue with food catered in. I also have made some cute wedding gift ideas with inspiration from Pinterest or Etsy. The clear christmas ornament bulb with the invitation inside is always a big hit!

  3. Cost is the primary reason I decided not to have any bridesmaids. Because most of the ladies I’d ask live out of state, I don’t want to ask anyone to spend any more money than what it would cost for them to get to my wedding. I don’t want to have a shower (we don’t need that many things, and I definitely don’t need anyone to buy me a wedding gift AND a shower gift) and I am fine with a night out for a bachelorette party. A lot of people seem to think it’s a strange choice, but my goal was to make it easier on the people that I love — and it’s one less thing I have to worry about, too!