It costs about $1,700 to be a bridesmaid, according to a WeddingChannel.com 2010 survey. Among the biggest expenses are traveling to the wedding, the bachelorette party, and the bridal shower. Many bridesmaids don’t realize how quickly the expenses add up, says Amy Eisinger, the site’s associate editor.
“From the moment they announce the engagement, to the day your friend walks down the isle, if that’s a year and a half, you don’t realize that you’ve spent $1,600,” she said. Costs are also on the rise again.
“We saw the cost go down during the recession because brides were incredibly cost conscious in what they were asking their friends to do,” Eisinger said.
So what to do when you want to be in your best friend’s wedding, but can’t exactly afford everything that comes with it?
“Be honest up front,” says Jodi R.R. Smith, author of The Etiquette Book, which includes advice on all things ‘wedding.’
“If you try to be able to do it, then you end up maxing out your credit cards and going into debt,” Smith said. “You should never be going into debt for a friend’s wedding.”
Smith advises women to tell the bride-to-be that you can’t afford to be in her wedding in person, such as while getting coffee. Don’t do it at an event, such as a bridal shower, and don’t “throw a fit” about the expense, either.
“You are allowed to say, ‘Look, I’m just not going to be able to afford the $200 wedding dress and the trip to Mexico for the bachelorette party and the fact that it’s a destination wedding in Key West,’ ” she said.
Brides who want their friends with them at the ceremony will probably take on some of the expense, such as the dress or plane ticket.
“If it’s a choice between having somebody be in your wedding party or having them all wear designer bridesmaid dresses, I would choose the people and the cheaper bridesmaid dress,” Smith said.
Trying to figure out what bridesmaids can and cannot afford gets sticky, which is why making a spreadsheet with estimated costs is a great alternative. Unexpected surprises do occur, however, such as the Las Vegas bachelorette party in the movie Bridesmaids.
“Instead of the bachelorette party in Vegas, [if] you’re all East Coast people, have it in Atlantic City,” Smith says.
Budget-Friendly Tips for Bridesmaids
Dress: If the dress costs $300, don’t be afraid to research and suggest cheaper alternatives. You can also suggest the bride name the color and allow everyone to pick their own dress. This is a big money-saver!
Party: Having the bachelorette party and the bridal shower in the same weekend is ideal and saves on plane fare.
Gifts: Group gifts are always a good idea for the bridal shower and the wedding.
Accommodations: Staying in a hotel? Ask one of the other single bridesmaids if she wants to share a room, or any single friends that will be attending the wedding.
Budget Balancing: Come up with a number of how much you want to spend, and keep a running tab throughout the planning and event process. This will help keep your spending in check, particularly if the wedding is spread out over the course of a year.