Always a (Broke) Bridesmaid

It could be an honor, or it could be the question your friends dread to hear…”I wanted to know if you will be one of my bridesmaids!”  Even if the two of you are close, everyone knows being a bridesmaid means shelling out can cost a pretty penny.  Let’s face it – you have great taste and a newly-asked bridesmaid may stress until you settle on the dress, shoes, hair, etc. that you are requiring of her for your special day.

I was in a wedding in my early 20’s that required me to travel, and when all was said and done, I had spent over $1,000 between the travel expenses, gifts for the engagement party, shower, and wedding, and of course, the dress I will never wear again. 

Let’s run down a list of typical items bridesmaids are expected to pay for. 

Dress $100-$200
Alterations $50
Shoes $50
Undergarments (strapless bra, SPANX, etc.) $30-$50
Hair $50
Mani / Pedi $50
Sharing expenses at your bachelorette party (bridesmaids paying for your dinner and drinks) $50
Shower Gift $50
Wedding Gift $100
Travel expenses if it’s a destination wedding or if you need to travel out of town for their wedding – TBD

While these are just estimates, you get the idea.  Further, some bridesmaids may have more than one wedding in one year.  So, what’s a bride to do?  You’ve been planning your wedding since you were 5 and you want your close friends to experience the day with you!

The most important thing to remember is to be considerate, and that will go a long way with your bridesmaids. 

Rosie of East Boston has had some recent experiences where she has felt thankful the bride takes her friends into consideration.  “I think things have really changed from just a few years ago.  The bridesmaid dress I bought in the late 90s/early 2000 were anywhere from $160 on up and they were hideous creations you could never wear again.  Nowadays, I feel most weddings I have been a apart of, the bride is very conciseness of the initial cost (and style) of the dress”

Besides the cost itself, the style of the dress is equally as important.  Make sure the dress you select is size and age appropriate for the members of the wedding party.  Remember, your wedding shouldn’t be a scene from 27 Dresses.  Rachel of NY remembers feeling a little silly with a recent bridesmaid dress she had to wear.  “A 30-something woman does not want to look like she is going to the prom.  I was in a wedding last summer and I felt very uncomfortable in the dress that the bride had chosen.  It looked too “young” for my age.”  Think about it – if you describe the bridesmaid you dress you chose with the words puffy, pink, taffeta, or ruffly, you should start looking for a different dress. 

Unless you want to be seen as a bridezilla, remember:

– Your wedding is on a budget of some sort, and so is your bridesmaid.
– Try to keep the bridesmaid dress under $100.  With the alterations expenses, it could already add up to $150.  With the state of our economy, you wouldn’t want your bridesmaid to bow out because she can’t afford the dress you chose.
– Know a trusted seamstress?  See if he/she will handle the bridesmaid dresses at a group discount.  The store you buy the dresses from may automatically charge an arm and a leg for the smallest fix. 
– There are stores like David’s Bridal for a reason – they are located all around the country, have frequent sales, and for the most part, have dresses that can suit any taste and budget.
– Want all your girls to have updo’s?  Look into the cost and try to handle the payment on your own. 
– Found the perfect nail polish for them to use to match the dress?  Just buy it for them!
– Want your girls to have the same look with their jewelry?  Well, that can be your gift to them for being in the wedding party.  (As long as it’s not costume jewelry they will never wear again). 
– Before you settle on the dress, make sure you take in all the girls into consideration (including their sizes, budget, and taste).  The simpler the dress, the better reaction you will have from everyone.
– Skip having the “same shoes” for everyone.  Honestly, if you choose a long dress, you can’t really see them anyway.  If the girls have to pay for their own shoes, let them be something they will wear again by letting the girls choose their own.  Leave your guidelines vague – “Black Strappy Shoes”, for example, and they can find their own, at their price range, in their comfort height.  And if they are uncomfortable, she can’t blame you! 

Just remember, at the end of the day, your bridesmaids are actually doing a favor by being in your wedding, so be kind to them, and they will be kind to you! 


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