Like Jane in 27 Dresses, I have been a bridesmaid many times. It’s almost comical. I’ve also been the bride, and I'm a hairstylist, so I've been a part of more weddings than I can count. All of this wedding experience has given me an interesting perspective on things.
I want to preface this by saying that it is truly an honor to be asked to stand by the bride on her wedding day, and most bridesmaids are willing to front whatever money is needed to be part of the day. But I think, as the bride, we often forget that although we don’t mind investing a lot of money into our own wedding, the people we ask to be in the wedding party might not have a bunch of money to invest into it too.
The Duties of a Bridesmaid
There are several roles that a bridesmaid takes on when she accepts the position. All of these things come with a price tag. Remember that, as a bride, when you ask someone to be in the wedding, you’re asking them to be a part of these things too.
The dress shopping. Typically when the bride goes shopping for her dress, she takes her bridesmaids with her for support. And in the process, maybe find the bridesmaid dresses they will wear on the big day.
Did you know that the average price of a bridesmaid’s dress is $208? This cost doesn’t include alterations or accessories. Alteration costs vary depending on what you need done, but can range from $75-150. Then don’t forget you need shoes and jewelry to go with it.
The bridal shower. The person who pays for the bridal shower can all depend on the bride, but traditionally, the bridesmaids throw the bridal shower and pay for it, and the mother of the bride contributes. The biggest cost of the shower is the catering/food provided. Bridesmaids are supposed to help throw the shower and keep track of the gifts the bride receives so later she can reference who gave what gifts.
The average amount of money a bridesmaid spends being in a wedding is $1,200.
The bachelorette party. Obviously, every bride is different, so there isn’t one correct way to do the bachelorette party. But many brides have turned this event into a week or weekend-long trip rather than a night out. The maid of honor is supposed to coordinate this event, so the main costs are on her. To take a trip somewhere for several days is a huge cost to the bridesmaids because they pay for transportation costs (plane ticket or gas), room costs, food, and they also cover the cost of the bride.
CNBC reported that “In 2019, 56% of women threw bachelorettes that lasted for two or more days, and nearly 40% of attendees who flew in for the event reported spending over $1,000, according to wedding website Weddingwire. Even more mind-blowing is that one in 10 people reported spending $4,000 or more.” It doesn’t need to be this expensive to have fun. If your bridesmaids aren’t at a place in life where they can afford something like this, just have a girls’ night out. It will still be memorable.
Gifts. Don’t forget that along with the wedding attire and events, you need a gift for the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, and wedding. Maybe the bride doesn’t expect a gift for these things if you’re in the wedding, but I have never been in a wedding where I didn’t get a gift for these events.
Wedding day costs. On the big day, if the bride requires hair and makeup to be a certain way, you could spend at least $150 on these services. Many bridal parties go together to get manicures and pedicures before the wedding day as well. Nail services can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 or more depending on what kind of nail services you get. These prices all vary but from head to toe, you could really be spending a lot of money for your wedding day glam.
Do These Things To Lessen the Costs for Your Bridesmaids
The great thing about having a wedding in our culture is that it doesn't have to be traditional, and there are really no rules. Some of the weddings I was in were not costly for me. And when planning my own wedding I considered all of these things to avoid putting a financial burden on my bridal party. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years:
Bridesmaid dresses don't have to be expensive. When I tell you there are no rules, there are really no rules! My bridesmaids wore $40 dresses that they found from a random boutique section of a home décor store! You can also shop from online stores that are more cost-friendly and have plenty of options for bridesmaid dresses, like Azazie, Birdy Grey, Baltic Born, Lulus, and Kennedy Blue. There are so many dresses from these websites for under $100!
Gift your bridesmaids their wedding jewelry. If you want all the girls to wear similar accessories on the wedding day, gift it to them! It’s often a tradition to gift the bridesmaids with something when it gets closer to the wedding day. Etsy and Amazon are great for finding personalized gifts and accessories for the big day. Here are a few options:
Have options for the wedding day hair, makeup, and nails. If you want all the girls to have the same hairstyle and make-up look for the wedding day, then ask them to do something simple enough they can do their own or each other's. Or ask them in advance who does and doesn’t want to get their hair and make-up done on the wedding day and get a quote from your stylist on what the charge will be. And for the nails, give them the option to do their own or go get them done. If it’s extremely important to you that they look a certain way, then cover the cost. Here are some easy hairstyles for inspo:
Hair Down and Curly
Low Pony with Curls
Low Sleek Bun
Their Hairstyle of Choice
Suggest ideas for the bachelorette party. It’s okay to let your girls spoil you, but take some of the pressure off by giving them ideas rather than them coming up with an extravagant week-long trip that they can’t afford. For my bachelorette, we had a “spa day” together and we got our nails done for the wedding (kill two birds with one stone), ate lunch together, and got a massage. We were home by 5 p.m. I’m not a party animal or a night owl, so this was the best kind of bachelorette party I could’ve asked for. We didn’t go out of town or take a trip, but we had an awesome day together and we all got to relax and enjoy it.
Another alternative would be a simple girls’ night out. Go dancing or have a few drinks together at dinner. Have a sleepover and stay up late. It doesn’t need to be out of state or five days long to be fun. You have your whole lives to go on trips together!
You Can Say No to a Bridesmaid Proposal
I remember a friend of mine asked me to be in her wedding (after already being in several other weddings). I was honored that she asked, but I was financially drained from everything happening in my life and I had just spent money on two other recent weddings I was in. My mom also had cancer during this time, and I didn’t want my focus to be away from her.
If you say yes, it’s important you do your best to be on board with what the bride wants for her wedding day.
I responded to her with something along these lines: “I am so honored that you asked me to be part of your day, but I know with everything going on in my life right now, I can’t commit to all that goes with being a bridesmaid and I don't want to take away from your big day.” She took it incredibly well, and to be honest, it made me feel closer to her as a friend, knowing she was so understanding. So for all those feeling like they can’t commit, you have the option to opt out if it’s not in the cards for you. Because when you say yes, it’s important that you do your best to be on board with what the bride wants for her wedding day.
You aren’t a bad person if you’ve pictured your wedding day since you were young and you want it to be a certain way. And the girls you ask to stand beside you are probably more than happy to be a part of the experience with you. But just remember that you’re asking a lot of them, though all good things, and they might not be as financially ready as you to spend a bunch of money on your wedding. Consider them when you’re planning, and if you’re worried about what they can afford, ask them what options work best. These are your besties, and they want to spoil you on your big day, but everyone is at a different stage in life, so don’t stress if spoiling you looks different for each of them.
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