Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quote of the Day: The High Price of Being a Bridesmaid

With all our talk of weddings in recent weeks, I thought you’d find the following quote interesting:

“After adding up the cost of the dress, accessories, travel expenses, wedding gifts and more, WeddingChannel.com found that it costs about $1,695 to be a bridesmaid. The estimate was based on a 2010 Real Weddings study that surveyed more than 20,000 brides nationwide.”

Yikes! That’s a shit-ton of money. In fact, it’s close to 20% what my whole wedding cost two years ago (for which I skipped having bridesmaids). Fortunately, there are tips for reducing the costs (CNN.com lists a few here), including, *gasp* turning down bridesmaid offers or telling the bride upfront what you can afford to spend and letting her decide whether she can work with that budget or if she needs to find a replacement bridesmaid.

Now I’m curious: how much would you estimate you’ve spent as a bridesmaid? Have you ever turned down a bridesmaid offer for financial reasons?

91 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Wendy July 1, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Fresh out of the bubble of small town liberal-arts college, I told a childhood/high school friend that I wouldn’t be able to be a bridesmaid because I had moved to California and not back to Oregon. I assumed this would be a perfectly reasonable excuse, and she would just cheerfully say “Okay then” without any further explanation needed. I had no idea that this was just Not Done, that it had become the norm for friends to travel great distances to attend friends’ weddings, especially if they are asked to be bridesmaids. I get the impression from other people now that it is expected one will go into credit card debt for something like this.

    I don’t think my friend carried a huge grudge; she was just puzzled at my polite refusal, and since I had no idea that I was doing anything out of the ordinary, it didn’t occur to me to explain any further or to be super, super apologetic (as I would be now, now that I understand what is supposedly normal in the current climate).

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    • avatar

      TMSC July 1, 2011, 2:51 pm

      When I asked my best friend to be my matron of honor, (who lives across the country from me) I made it clear up front that I understood completely if it was a burden on her for any reason, and that if she could not do it, I would understand. I wouldn’t have been upset, or even surprised if she said no. As a matter of fact, she took a few days to think it over, and talk to her husband.

      Maybe it has to do with the way weddings are perceived nowadays, or maybe it depends on the person/bride, and how she views weddings. I have been in 4 weddings, two of which I was maid of honor. So I know the difficulty – financial and otherwise – this can present.

      I don’t think you would have anything to apologize for, and I don’t think its strange at all to say no. As a matter of fact, I think it shows more care for the bride and for yourself to say no, than to say yes out of a feeling of guilt or obligation. That doesn’t speak to the real meaning and purpose of being part of someone’s wedding day.

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  • avatar

    evanscr05 July 1, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Not sure what I’ve spent as a bridesmaid in the past (no where close to that amount, though), but I have turned down being in a wedding for financial reasons. Well, rather, I accepted it having never done it before (where I was financially responsible for myself, I mean) and was a poor college kid with no job. I couldn’t afford the $75 dress so a couple of months before the wedding I, very apologetically, told my friend I could not be in the wedding. She was very understanding and we are still good friends.

    Studies like this are precisely why I am covering as much as possible for my bridesmaids. Shoes, hair/makeup, breakfast, etc. The only thing I’ve asked them to pay for are their dresses (which I would have covered if I could have afforded those, as well). They wanted to do a big shower and gifts and things, so anything above the dress (and travel expenses in a couple of cases) is all their call. No one needs to go broke for my wedding. My mom and my fiance keep telling me I’m too generous. What can I say? I love my girls and I want them to be pampered, too. The best gift of all is them being there for me that day (and one of them is making a special trip to Virginia from Hawaii just to be there for me). Who can ask for more than that?

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    • avatar

      Bethany July 1, 2011, 2:56 pm

      “The best gift of all is them being there for me that day”– that’s how I feel too πŸ™‚

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    • avatar

      sarita_f July 1, 2011, 3:07 pm

      evanscr – I love your attitude and approach! Good on ya.

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    • avatar

      John Bragg July 3, 2011, 8:35 am

      My wife told her bridesmaids to pick any solid color dresses they liked. Everyone looked great, and actually had dresses they could wear again. (Two of the three actually did, I think to weddings they were guests at.)

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  • avatar

    Greebo July 1, 2011, 2:51 pm

    I’m not sure I’d count the gift(s) as part of the expense of being a bridesmaid, since I’d spend that as a guest. I’d say I’ve never spent more than $300 (not counting gifts).

    Does anyone else think it’s absurd to ask another person to spend that kind of money? I let my bridesmaids pick their own dresses, as long as they got the same color. (Basically, I picked an inexpensive designer.) They chose their own shoes, hair, jewelry, etc., and I didn’t care if they did their own (hair or makeup), wore jewelry they already had and wore shoes from a prior wedding. One (my sister) came from out of town and paid for a sitter, so she had the highest cost at around $250. Even then, I felt a bit guilty asking them to spend that.

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    • avatar

      fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 3:14 pm

      Well, I think it depends on the gifts. Usually when I’m just a guest, I only buy one gift. When I’m a bridesmaid, I’m usually invited to multiple showers, lingerie parties, etc. etc. and end up having to (well, not having to but….) buy multiple gifts. So I kind of consider everything over 1 gift part of the expense of being in the wedding party.

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      • avatar

        Greebo July 1, 2011, 3:29 pm

        Hadn’t thought of the multiple showers, etc. But then, the last four weddings I was invited to, EVERY female on the guest list was also invited to the shower, and the bachelorette party was more like the little, intimate parties prior showers had been. Several of those showers were over 200 people!

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      • avatar

        fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 3:34 pm

        I like it when there is only one big shower for a wedding! Sometimes, the bride’s family throws a shower, the groom’s family throws a shower, the friends from work throw a shower, the people from church throw a shower, the college friends throw a shower… etc… and when I’m a bridesmaid I’m usually invited to ALL of them if this is the case. Eek!

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      • avatar

        Greebo July 1, 2011, 4:22 pm

        Wow! That’s a lot of showers. Surely the bridesmaids weren’t expected to bring something to all the showers, though? Has it really become the case that every female guest invited to the wedding now is expected to be invited to the shower? I recall they used to be much, much smaller affairs, with only a few close friends and family members attending–maybe the bridesmaids, mothers and sisters, plus a couple other close friends.

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      • avatar

        Bethany July 1, 2011, 7:23 pm

        Wow- that’s crazy! I’m of the mind set where only those closest to you should go to the shower. I don’t go to the ones where I feel like I really shouldn’t be there- like if the bride isn’t a good friend of mine.

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    • avatar

      LT July 1, 2011, 3:16 pm

      Maybe it has something to do with the bride’s relationship with money. If she isn’t paying for her wedding, she might be clueless to the financial burdens of her bridesmaids/guests. That doesn’t excuse it, but it’s a thought.

      Since all our friends live all over the country and travel/hotel will be required, my boyfriend and I have already talked about stressing how the only real present we want is our friends presence at the big day. Show up, look nice, drink, dance, and have fun.

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    • avatar

      Von July 1, 2011, 5:19 pm

      Gifts are much more as a bridesmaid, invited to all the showers, bach party thing, and wedding; versus one shower, rsvp no to bach thing if invited, and wedding gift.

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  • avatar

    Bethany July 1, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I’m about to be a bridesmaid for the 3rd time. The first time was about 10 years ago, and I have no idea how much I spent on that, but I know it was not a lot. 2nd time I was actually a “Groomswoman” for my brother. The wedding was out of town, but I shared a suite with my parents, and for some reason my mom paid for my dress, so all I paid for was airfare and my shoes. I did my own hair/makeup and the bride bought us our jewelry. My 3rd time is in a few weeks, and I think I’m only spending about $800- that’s including the dress, shoes, hair, gifts, bachelorette party. The bride’s mom insisted on paying for the shower, and I don’t need to travel for it, so that saved me some money.
    I think that’s a pretty reasonable amount. I wouldn’t have been upset if I’d had to spend a little more than that though.

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  • avatar

    TMSC July 1, 2011, 2:59 pm

    I have been maid of honor three times, I said twice in a comment above, but on reviewing this in my head, it was actually THREE times! Anyway, on at least two of those three occasions, I spend probably around $800 – $1K. But the shoes/dress, etc. were all very reasonably priced. I made the decision in each case to spend more on the shower/bachelorette parties and other incidentals. I don’t regret it, nor do I think the bride would have expected it. However, I would not have spent the money if I didn’t have it, nor would I agree to be a bridesmaid if I couldn’t afford it.

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  • avatar

    Lexington July 1, 2011, 3:02 pm

    I spent $500 on an in town wedding. That’s 62% of a month’s pay for me. Most of it was on a hideous dress I will never wear again. So my bridesmaids are picking their own dress (in a specific color), doing their own hair and makeup, etc. I only want them to spend as much as they feel comfortable spending.

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    • avatar

      kimsch July 2, 2011, 11:16 pm

      I chose dresses off the rack from Paul Harris for my bridesmaids. I liked the dress enough that I bought one for myself as well. The dress was easily worn afterwards for almost any occasion, even to work. It was a long dress with a navy and white floral skirt and an empire waist solid navy sleeveless top. It also came with a matching jacket. Total cost was about $50 13 years ago.

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  • avatar

    LT July 1, 2011, 3:09 pm

    Does anyone have any tips for bringing up bridesmaid financials with the bride? I read the article, and all the bridesmaids seemed to have fairly level-headed brides. What if the bride is not being upfront? I know money is a touchy subject for anyone to bring up, but suggestions?

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    • avatar

      fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 3:22 pm

      I’ve been in enough weddings to have a plan of action for this. What I do is, when she asks me — if I actually want to be in her wedding, and if she doesn’t bring up finances at that point — say yes, hug, congratulate her etc. Then, I go home and look at my money situation, decide on a budget (usually it’s about $250 — I have to live off my TA stipend and I don’t have a lot of extra) and within one or two days of being asked and saying yes, I call the bride and explain the budget. I tell her that I only have $250 to cover dress, shoes, hair, gifts, parties, etc., and then I tell her that if that won’t be enough, I’ll completely understand if she wants to ask someone else. That way, she has an out if she’s wanting bridesmaids with bigger budgets. It’s direct, and so far it’s worked for me… but most of my friends have been low-key brides with backyard or church weddings.

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      • avatar

        TMSC July 1, 2011, 3:35 pm

        You could even tell her up front that you are honored, but could you have a day or so to look at your budget to make sure you can be there for her financially as well. Then as fallonthecity says, come up with a number and call her back…that way, she doesn’t expect something up front (you saying yes).

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      • avatar

        fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 3:49 pm

        Yes, that is ideal. However, I’m a little bit chicken to rain on someone’s parade right away unless they bring the money up in the same conversation they ask me to be in their wedding or give me a reason to think I really couldn’t afford it.

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      • avatar

        TMSC July 1, 2011, 3:55 pm

        This is a really good point, I hadn’t thought of it that way.

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      • avatar

        LT July 1, 2011, 4:04 pm

        Might be a little tactless. “Congrats! And how much is this going to cost me?” πŸ˜‰

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      • avatar

        LT July 1, 2011, 4:06 pm

        But man I wish I had the guts to say it.

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      • avatar

        fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 4:11 pm

        Hahaha! Yeah, me too!

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      • avatar

        DramaQueen224 July 1, 2011, 4:20 pm

        Totally agree. I would also suggest to be contentious about revealing your other spending habits during this time. I attended a wedding where a bridesmaid requested the bride choose a less expensive bridesmaid’s dress, and then proceeded to spend three times the amount during shopping spree a few weeks later. I thought it was understandable (wearing a dress once vs clothes she was going to wear all the time), but the bride’s feelings were a bit hurt, and it could have been avoided if the friend just hadn’t mentioned the shopping spree.

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      • avatar

        fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 5:00 pm

        That’s a really good suggestion.

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      • avatar

        Christy July 3, 2011, 6:12 pm

        Maybe it was rude to mention the shopping spree, but it’s her money and her clothes, so why shouldn’t she spend as much money as she wants? Unless honoring the bride is directly translating into spending as much money as possible, people should have the right to decide how much they want to spend on someone else’s event.

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      • katie

        Katie July 1, 2011, 8:09 pm

        gosh- the way you word that, it sounds like some brides would just want to have their “rich” friends be their bridesmaids!! i hope that doesn’t ever happen to people.

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    • avatar

      Von July 1, 2011, 5:39 pm

      It sounds like you have committed to the wedding already so you don’t need to be rude by mentioning it right away. I would write a note, on paper, that you read several times and ask someone to check for you – saying:
      Dear my darling friend,
      As I have said I am so happy for you and your beloved and honored to be part of your wedding. Obviously I have begun paying more attention to articles and information about being a bridesmaid since you asked me. I had no idea the range of expenses for bridesmaids. We haven’t discussed this yet but It would be very helpful to me if we could talk about budgets and your expectations.

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  • avatar

    LennyBee July 1, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I’ve been a bridesmaid twice – once for my sister, and once for a close friend, both were in town weddings, so no travel costs. I’d guess I spent about $500 for my sister, and $300 for my friend, but a large part of that expense was totally optional and my choice (having a half day at the spa with my sister beforehand, and getting hair done with friend). Both times dresses were managed at under $200, but are dresses I’ll never wear again, and in fact, no longer own. Shoes and jewellery were things I already owned – nobody asked me to wear a specific shoe or a specific necklace or anything. I think $300 is totally reasonable, since it’s probably similar to what I spent attending another friend’s out of town wedding as just a guest.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 July 1, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I feel like this average is a little high. I wouldn’t factor in things I would be paying for if I was going to the wedding anyways like travel, gift, hotel… I wold just factor in stuff like bridal showers, bachelorette parties, dress, hair ect. Stuff that you goes beyond what you would normally spend to go to somebodies wedding.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 July 1, 2011, 3:56 pm

      Oh and i’m not a girl, this is just my opinion as a guy lol. So maybe I’m wrong, I have been a best man though.

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      • avatar

        LT July 1, 2011, 3:57 pm

        Just curious about the best man expenses. Are they as expensive?

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      • avatar

        El July 1, 2011, 4:12 pm

        Grooms are just as bad as the brides nowadays. My fiance spent over a grand last summer because a friend of his demanded a 5-day, 4-night vacation to Vegas for his bachelor “party”.

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      • avatar

        Bethany July 1, 2011, 7:28 pm

        I think the bachelor/bachelorette parties are really getting out of hand- I mean who has enough vacation time and money to do that for a bachelor party?! I would have said no!

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  • Firegirl32

    Firegirl32 July 1, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Ours is going to be relatively inexpenseive. We are planning a luau (an annual event) and will be surprising our guests with a wedding. Anyone who wants to stand up with us, can. We are two grown adults with everything we need. We don’t want gifts. We just want those that mean the most to us there. I am so freaking excited I can hardly wait!

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    • avatar

      Painted_lady July 1, 2011, 4:42 pm

      Oh my god that sounds AMAZING. Cheap, simple, with everyone you want there and zero hassle leading up to it. Let us know how it goes!!!!

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    • katie

      Katie July 1, 2011, 8:11 pm

      a surprise wedding! that is amazing!!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom July 1, 2011, 9:19 pm

      I love the idea. Simple and fun without all the tension and nastiness that so many weddings have. Good for you!

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    • Firegirl32

      Firegirl32 July 5, 2011, 10:14 am

      Thanks!!

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  • avatar

    QTKT July 1, 2011, 4:04 pm

    When I got married a year ago one of my bridesmaid was still in grad school and the other had just finished with me two years before but hadn’t had as much luck finding work in her town. I totally understood their financial situation, so I paid for their dresses, jewelry, and hotel room and my mom paid for everyone’s hair and make-up the day of. The only cost they had was their shoes and to get to the wedding – a tank or two of gas, no flights.

    The bachelorette party was dinner out as a group with other girlfriends (so everyone paid for their meal and chipped in for mine) and then a bar to drink and dance – nothing that cost much more than say going out for someone’s birthday any other time of the year. I wanted people to have FUN being part of the wedding party, not stressed!

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  • Public Pearl

    Public Pearl July 1, 2011, 4:30 pm

    This is the kind of thing that makes me glad I’m a misanthropic loner. I’ve only ever been a bridesmaid once, for one of my sisters (the other eloped, bless her!), and my parents paid for the God-awful dress (I stayed with them, too, after driving in from another state, so not much in the way of travel expenses). And for my wedding, my two sisters were the only bridesmaids, so again, my parents paid for their dresses and hotel room.

    Small weddings for the win!

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  • avatar

    heidikins July 1, 2011, 3:39 pm

    The three times I’ve been a bridesmaid the dress was purchased by the bride/bride’s parents. There was never any mention to me, or any of the other bridesmaids, about paying for the dress. I bought my own shoes, but that was it. When I got married I desperately wanted my best friend there, but she lived in Alaska and didn’t have the cash for an expensive ticket. It was so important for her to be there to me that I volunteered to pay for her ticket, which was by far the most worth-it wedding expense. I didn’t really have “bridesmaids” in matching dresses and uncomfortable shoes, so there was no other expense for her to attend my wedding. I didn’t realize until I started scanning wedding blogs what a hassle and expense being a bridesmaid is “supposed” to be, it was easy and relatively inexpensive (i.e. “free”) for me to participate in my friend’s weddings. The fact that this is not the cultural norm still floors me. I would never dream of asking someone to fork out $1,600 to attend my wedding, just like I’d never ask someone to send in a check with their RSVP to pay for their dinner. Why is it okay to expect your best friends to spend that kind of money, but not ask your second cousin once removed to pony up for their part of your day? Frankly, in my mind, both are equally tacky. You want 12 bridesmaids? Fine. Factor in the cost of their dresses/accessories into your wedding budget, just like you factor in your flowers and photographer.

    xox

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    • avatar

      TMSC July 1, 2011, 3:47 pm

      “..I’d never ask someone to send in a check with their RSVP to pay for their dinner” – do people really do that?????

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        Greebo July 1, 2011, 4:27 pm

        Ha! I’ll go one better. At a shower for a certain person (we’ll call her “Tacky” for short), a large number of people from work were invited. I didn’t know Tacky very well, so I didn’t go, HOWEVER…I heard from people who did that whoever threw the shower (could have been Tacky herself) reserved a tiny space and when guests arrived, their gifts were taken and put on tables, and they were given tickets telling them what time to come back and eat their pizza. Yes, pizza. In shifts.

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        fallonthecity July 1, 2011, 5:03 pm

        WOW.

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        Bethany July 1, 2011, 7:26 pm

        I have no words for this. Tacky is right!!!! I would have taken my gift and walked out!!

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        heidikins July 1, 2011, 3:49 pm

        I hope not, but to me it’s just as bad as asking your best friend to buy a dress that 9 times out of 10 is not their choice, shoes, and particular accessories or hairstyle–not to mention gifts for various parties and/or hotel expenses–and all because YOU want a particular look for YOUR wedding day.

        xox

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        TMSC July 1, 2011, 3:50 pm

        ah! haha! I thought you had read or heard somewhere of someone doing that. I was thinking, oh yikes!

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        ForeverYoung July 1, 2011, 6:28 pm

        THANK YOU!! I know this might get me a lot of thumbs down, but I am so uncomfotable with the thought of making bridesmaids pay for their own dresses. It seems like you’re subsidizing the cost of your wedding onto your friends. I personally couldn’t afford to pay for my 2 bridesmaids dresses, so I just told them specifically to just wear any black dress they had that hit around the knees, and if they didn’t own one (both did) I would buy one. I have been a bridesmaid twice and had to buy my own dress both times, and each time found it exremely strange. I just can’t imagine making my friends pay for my wedding.

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        LTC039 July 1, 2011, 4:03 pm

        Yes, I’ve seen it happen for baby showers & bridal showers! Tacky tacky tacky…

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        Von July 4, 2011, 12:55 am

        Kind of. I am hearing bride’s letting people know the cost per plate and expecting it.

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      SweetChild July 1, 2011, 9:54 pm

      Totally agree with you, I would never dream of thinking it was okay to ask for bridemaids to pay for a dress they didn’t even want to wear that I had chosen, ugh so unfair! I think if you can’t afford to pay for just about everything for your bridesmaids save perhaps travel expenses then don’t have bridesmaids at all.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 July 1, 2011, 4:01 pm

    I’m a bridesmaid for a wedding in September. My friend (the bride) looked for the cheapest seamstress possible to make our dresses (less than $200) & she even bought the fabric herself so we wouldn’t have to buy it. But yes, I have to travel to Chicago for the wedding. If I get a hotel + flight package I’m looking at around $600 for dress, flight & hotel. I don’t think I’ll be spending $1,600, at least I hope not, but I’ll let you know if that is true πŸ™‚

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  • avatar

    justpeachy July 1, 2011, 5:03 pm

    At my wedding, I only had a maid of honor, my sister. Because there was only one girl in the wedding party, her dress didn’t have to match anyone else’s so we found a gorgeous vintage dress for $50. We got the tailoring her dress including in the alterations of my dress. I told her she could do her own hair if she wanted but the hairstylist cut her a deal for $40. Her shoes were from the Payless bridal collection.

    The only downside to a small wedding party is that she felt the need to cover the bachelorette party. I offered every step of the way to contribute, but she didn’t get us a wedding present so we called it good.

    Maybe in the olden days when bridesmaids were really helpful in planning and staging a wedding, but why do you need 5+ bridesmaids? I understand you want to highlight your friends, but still, that’s borderline ridiculous.

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      Kate July 2, 2011, 5:19 pm

      I didn’t want bridesmaids at my wedding at all – I was adamant . . . my wonderful husband has a close group of friends from childhood – 7 guys. They are all close, so he either had to have all or none.

      It was important to my husband to include his friends as part of his wedding party – and although I love the alternative, small, laid back weddings I didn’t think it was ridiculous for him to include all of his friends! I compromised and had my six closest friends as my bridesmaids and we had a blast. Sometimes I wish we had eloped, but I felt so much love from all of our friends and family that I know I wouldn’t take it back.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph July 2, 2011, 5:43 pm

        Eh I don’t think its true that you have to have all or none. My boyfriend is in a tight knit group also, but the two that have gotten married have just had 2-3 of the group of 6 as groomsmen. My boyfriend has in mind the two that he would pick too, which along with his brother as best man is all he wants standing up for him.
        I think 6 or 7 is just a ridiculous amount. Then again, I’m also champion of the opinion that not being in a wedding party is not a snub, nor does it make you second class friend.
        Besides, you can have them all at the bachelor party, as my friend did with her bachelorette/shower weekend, even if you only have 2 groomsmen. If you choose to have the right attitude about it, the only difference is that some get to watch the ceremony from a seat, in their own suit, next to their gf rather than standing next to you in a rental tux.

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    heidikins July 1, 2011, 4:27 pm

    Um, I just read the survey from The Knot that had the stats for this article…and apparently I live in the state with the lowest average wedding cost…so perhaps that is where some of my opinions stem? Dunno.

    xox

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  • avatar

    twiglet July 1, 2011, 6:57 pm

    I’ve been a bridesmaid three times, and a best (wo)man once. In the uk, the bride always pays for the dress (unless she lets you just wear the best dress you already have.)In fact, it’s customary to give the bridesmaid a wee gift (don’t have to be much, I’ve had a sweet silver ring, a pebble painted by the bride,an embroidered hanky, it’s just a little keepsake thing)
    We don’t do bridal showers. The hen party is just a shared night out.There is no expense beyond any other wedding guest. In the UK any bride who expected her bridesmaids to foot the bill would be met with stunned disbelief.I’ve always been honoured to be asked , and hope I have fulfilled all my duties well,helped the bride, smoothed any potential problems (including rolling up my sleeves to fix a broken loo.) But having to shell out for the privilege of serving for the day just seems…weird.The bride has the right to tell you what to wear, and expect your support and love on the day. You are supposed to stay relatively sober, and not snog the bride’s dad or anything, and that’s pretty much itski. Don’t understand…

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    MsBorgia July 1, 2011, 7:18 pm

    I spent probably $400 on being a bridesmaid this summer, including the dress & alterations, gifts, travel, and shoes. Luckily dinner and my hair was covered and the wedding was in my hometown, so I stayed with my dad. No hotels for me! (It did cost me a tank of gas to get home and around town though.)

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  • avatar

    Rachel July 1, 2011, 7:42 pm

    I’ve only been a bridesmaid once. I didn’t spend quite this much, but the wedding was in Texas and I live in Colorado, so between flights (bridal shower and wedding), hotel, rental car, dress, etc., it was probably upwards of a grand. Someone made a good point though, that a few of those costs are already taken on just by attending the wedding. If I had not been IN the wedding, I would have not had to spend $150 on a dress + money to alter it and get my hair and nails done for the day. I also would have probably stayed in Texas for fewer days, and may not have gone for the shower. I didn’t really mind spending the money though, I really loved being a part of it. Now if I were in multiple weddings I might start to change my tune πŸ™‚

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  • katie

    Katie July 1, 2011, 8:23 pm

    i am hoping in my wedding i will be able to keep my wedding parties costs very low. i do not want a shower, or an expensive bachelorette party, or gifts from them at all!! i cant believe that brides expect all that stuff from their bridal party. i am having boys and girls standing next to me, and my boy will have boys and girls standing next to him. because i have close guy friends, i used to think, oh they can just stand by the groom, and my boyfriends close girl friends could stand by me. but then i just thought, why? thats dumb! so i will have my freinds on my side and he will have his on his side. i think it will be neat. but yes i will not be expecting anything in the way of gifts and parties from them.

    one idea I had, I wonder if anyone had tried this for their wedding… I was thinking that instead of trying to pay for everyone’s hotel rooms, what about just finding a cottage or a furnished house or something that everyone could just stay in together? has anyone tried to do this before? I was also thinking about this for the out of town family as well…

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      Britannia July 2, 2011, 5:17 am

      The furnished house idea sounds good in theory, but I don’t imagine that every one of your guests would appreciate not having the feeling of “privacy” that a hotel room provides – individual bathrooms, etc. Having a kitchen to cook in would be nice, but everyone would be bumping into each other. Just throw one grumpy couple into the mix, and no one would have a good time sharing the house.

      Plus, renting a furnished house for just a few days is most likely just as expensive as hotel rooms would be – actually, maybe more. At least, that’s how it is in my city.

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        SpaceySteph July 2, 2011, 5:04 pm

        I agree. A house for that many people would have to have alot of bedrooms, and those can go in the thousands for a rental.
        My boyfriend and his friends rent a beach house for a week every year… we rented a 6 bedroom house in outer banks this year for September. We got it for $3000 for the week at the off-peak time, it goes for over $9000 in the peak of the season. Though we will save money by being walking distance from the beach and cooking our own meals, its not really saving much over a hotel for a weekend. Plus who’s really gonna take the time to cook during a wedding weekend? And there’s no maid service to clean up after you.

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      Christy July 3, 2011, 6:24 pm

      My sister had a destination wedding in the mountains and we rented a couple of cabins for guests to stay in. It was a lot of fun having everyone there and hanging out. The only hassle was getting RSVPs in time so we would have the right number of rooms.

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      • katie

        Katie July 5, 2011, 12:58 am

        im glad it has worked out before!

        staceysteph and brittania both bring up very good points, so I will have to look into it further. i guess i have to actually figure out where the wedding is going to be before I start trying to figure out how where people are going to stay, haha, but glad to see it is possible

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    biskit July 1, 2011, 9:08 pm

    I’ve only been a bridesmaid once but I don’t think I paid anything, besides shower and wedding gifts. I guess you can include the bachelorette / bachelor weekend in the cost, which was $200/person for flights to Vegas and then another probably 400/person for entertainment and incidentals. So for me and my SO who were both invited, I guess that would’ve been near that $1600 figure for that weekend. But I would’ve been invited to that anyways, even if I had not been in the party.

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    Anna July 2, 2011, 1:58 am

    I guess I’ve been lucky. I was a maid of honor once in a friend’s wedding and, much more recently, I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding. In both cases, I didn’t have to spend nearly that much money. I definitely couldn’t afford that! When I was maid of honor, the bride was very frugal and we picked out our dresses at Dillards for about $50 each. At that time, I was a very poor college student so the bride actually paid for my dress. We did our own nails, hair, and makeup, so I ended up just spending a little bit of money for the bachelorette party and the shower. Last year, when I was in my brother’s wedding, we had dresses from David’s Bridal which were $120 each and I also contributed to the shower and the bachelorette party. In both cases, the events were held locally so I didn’t have to travel long distances. Also, both brides were pretty easy to please so it was a pretty great experience.

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    Britannia July 2, 2011, 5:26 am

    I am a broke-as-Hell college student (though I am on a fixed monthly income from an educational fund, which has been a godsend), and all of my friends are broke-as-Hell college students, too. I have never been a bridesmaid, but I simply couldn’t do it if the bride expected me to spend more than, say, $50 total.

    When I get around to having a wedding, I plan to have my bridesmaids wear shoes and dresses they already own and NOT expect a bachelorette party (they aren’t really my taste, anyways). If anything, we’d probably go for dinner and drinks together. I also plan to pay to have their makeup and hair done professionally, and to buy them a really nice clutch in a neutral color for their bridesmaids’ present. Also, I really only expect that I will be asking them for their TIME, and hope I will be able to take them out to lunch every time they give me an hour or two of their day to help me prepare for the wedding. I know that I’m a micro-manager and very good at working when I’m by myself, so I expect that I will want to do most of the grunt work myself… I will ask them for my help when I start to think that I won’t be able to finish the task in time on my own. I really just want my bridesmaids to be there because they are my closest friends and I want them to be included in such a big life event of mine… and also, to have tissues at the ready so that I don’t look Gothic by the time we get to the reception.

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      Kate July 2, 2011, 5:28 pm

      I felt the same way about not having a bachelorette party, and it sounds like you are planning to be very considerate of your friends and future bridesmaids. But I think its also okay to allow your friends to do things for you just because they want to – I would never expect a friend to take me to lunch when I spent a few hours helping her with the wedding! It would make me very self-conscious. But the important thing is knowing your friends, and if they are college or grad students or unemployed, don’t place unreasonable demands on them. But I enjoy lending a hand to my friends and just a thank you is enough for me!

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    lemongrass July 2, 2011, 10:04 am

    As a bride (2 more weeks!) I would never expect my bridesmaids to pay such a ridiculous amount! I have 2 bridesmaids and I bought their dresses for them. One is a single mom so I paid for everything for her (shoes, night out for my bachelorette party, etc.) I also bought their jewelry as a bridesmaid gift. I told them I to do whatever they want with their hair and makeup. I also let them know that I am not expecting gifts from them. Going into debt for someone else’s wedding is ridiculous.

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      SpaceySteph July 2, 2011, 5:55 pm

      I gotta say that the hair/makeup thing is the most ridiculous part of the bridesmaid experience, in my opinion. Going to a salon to get your hair and makeup done for like $200 for someone else’s wedding… I couldn’t imagine shelling out that kind of money for something that’s gonna be a mess (or gone) by morning. Good for you for letting them do their own thing.

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        lemongrass July 3, 2011, 3:58 pm

        Thanks! I’m actually doing my own makeup as well. I went for a trial but I looked like a barbie bride. I want to look at my wedding pictures and not wonder who is in my wedding dress!

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    SpaceySteph July 2, 2011, 5:50 pm

    My boyfriend once showed me the Virginia Tech bowtie/vest combos they sell in his alumni magazine. He told me that he was absolutely going to wear that, and put his groomsmen in it when he got married and if he ever proposed I should say yes only if I was willing to agree to that stipulation He has…alot of school spirit.
    At that point I realized I would have to dress my bridesmaids in my school colors too, in order to combat the ugly ugly orange (sorry to anyone who likes orange, but I can’t stand it).
    Lucky for me, my school colors are black and gold… so my thought is to have my bridesmaids wear a black dress they already own and do yellow rose bouquets. It would be awesome… cheap for them, school spirit-y for me!

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      Lola LB July 3, 2011, 7:37 am

      Is he serious about the combos???? Think about this . . . do you want your grandchildren to look at that wedding picture?

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        SpaceySteph July 3, 2011, 6:09 pm

        I think he’s serious. But also I think no matter what I do my grandchildren will look at the picture and say “i can’t believe people wore dresses/hair like that!” Nothing fashionable now will be fashionable in 50 years, so we might as well do what makes US happy and let the grandkids cringe.

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    SIV July 3, 2011, 12:45 am

    As long as the bridesmaids are wearing girdles, corsets or other firm-controlling undergarments (with appropriate hosiery), I think this matter is best left to the voluntary consent and perceived social obligations of the participants.

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    Rose G. July 3, 2011, 12:59 am

    I did not have any bridesmaids and my husband didn’t have a best man. Our wedding was very small and we didn’t spend a lot of money. My husband’s father offered to pay for a big wedding, or give us his Toyota truck as a wedding gift. We took the truck…and 8 years later my husband is still driving it.

    I understand the brides want to be recognized on their big day…and they should be. I’m just happy we didn’t have to spend a lot of money to do it, and that is the advice that I would give any bride today.

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    Allison July 3, 2011, 2:52 am

    20 years ago, I was maid of honor to a bride that expected me to pay over $1k for her wedding–dress, shoes, hat, gloves all dyed to match so none were off-the-shelf or reusable, petticoat (yes), nylons plus hair and makeup plus presents plus throwing her a shower plus travel to her hometown for the event. When I pointed out that I was a college junior, she said “we’re paying 20k for the wedding, the least you can do is pay $1k.”

    It’s not surprising that we never spoke again after the wedding, is it?

    If you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid, ask the bride what she thinks it will cost. Ask her specifically what her plans are re: what you’ll wear (a dress is one thing, a dress plus hat, gloves, shoes, and petticoat can double the cost of that dress), bach party or shower costs, etc. Get an answer you can afford before you agree to be in the wedding.

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    Richard July 3, 2011, 6:47 am

    Surely the UK system is better – the bride (or parents, or couple; whoever is paying) buys the dresses, and indeed a small but not cheap gift for each bridesmaid. The bridesmaid is only really expected to pay any costs related to attending the hen party (UK version of the bachelorette, from the eastern tradition of a henna party to tattoo the bride for the big day) and the usual wedding gift and expenses of attending.

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    Mike G July 3, 2011, 8:35 am

    Why does everyone feel the need to dress their bridesmaids identically, as if they were the Pips or something?

    It sounds like half the expense and tsouris of weddings would go away if the bride would simply allow her friends to come dressed up to their own taste, rather than expecting them to match like a marching band or something. Really, what is the point? Are they a team who will go on fighting singledom in their uniforms? They’re your friends, they’re capable of dressing themselves.

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    Jshizzle July 3, 2011, 7:48 pm

    I’m hoping to entirely avoid stupid dress purchasing drama because my closest friends are all very similarly minded in that I know they wouldn’t be like that. However, we all dream about destination weddings. I said I was just going to elope and offense was taken…but how are we all going to afford all these trips?

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      Fairhaired Child July 4, 2011, 12:13 am

      Just because you elope doesn’t mean your close friends can’t be there (you still need witnesses!). It just means that they don’t have to be forced to wear something they hate, it can be more casual, and they can bow out easily if they dont have the funds. And that you wont be pulling your hair out that Aunt Sally just can not sit next to cousin susan because they had a HUGE fight at thanksgiving 15 year ago, and still argue about who dropped the gravy.

      Personally I’m planning on a VERY small wedding, most likely only my mother, brother and his wife will be coming from my side and a few very close friends (less than 5). So immediate family only to me pretty much. I will then send out pictures to the rest of the family afterwards and hope that they will understand that I wanted it to be a much more intimate wedding. My Brother did this recently (June 16th!) and only invited, me, my mother, his dad + wife (plus her son) and one aunt. His wife invited her parents, her brother, and two aunts, and that was it.

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    Von July 4, 2011, 1:02 am

    I have been in 3 weddings – all were under $500 expenses – well no, little more with travel, and once I covered the whole personal shower (the bridesmaids took the bride out for lunch) because I knew other’s were tapped. Once I felt I was asked to be in the wedding for my checkbook but might have been over sensitive.

    As a bride I was very lucky and my friends were generous with time, energy, and money that was considerable to them. For this reason I had them get black velvet dresses (not hard or expensive in the midwest in January. Two got them after new year clearance for about $25) which are useful, hair, makeup, jewelry – all their own choice. For my goddaughter I bought her dress, and helped a few others. It was traditional, etc but with a little effort I made it affordable even though I had the big matchy type of wedding.

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    SGMcG July 4, 2011, 10:38 am

    I’ve only been a bridesmaid twice. One wedding was extremely lavish – the bridesmaids wore Vera Wang gowns in navy taffeta and the groomsmen wore tails. Considering the bride asked me to be a last minute substitute for another bridesmaid she kicked out (there were three bridemaids and an Maid of Honor ), she helped me with half the cost of the dress. Yet when you consider all the other things that occurred – dinner in the City for the bachelorette party (with the limo bringing us in), the gift, the matching shoes, the bustling for the gown, I count myself lucky that I spent under $1,000 for all my duties.

    The other wedding had matching dresses and wraps from David’s Bridal. The bride was working there at the time to earn extra cash and take advantage of the employee discount. She also had eight bridesmaids (one an Maid of Honor and another a Matron of Honor, and the fact that we were all uniform boggles my mind. With the dress, wrap, matching purse and shoes, jewelry, and other events, I may have spent about $600 for that event.

    Both weddings had pretty fancy venues on Long Island – which according to the knot survey is the second most expensive place to have a wedding. However, both weddings were planned in about two years or more from the time of engagement, so budgets were planned accordingly. Yet the expense of those weddings (and the fact that I didn’t live in NY anymore) made me turn down an invitation to be a bridesmaid at a third wedding in NY. I was recently unemployed and I also had to respectfully decline from attending the wedding too. The bride for that event never forgave me for my decline, and our friendship ended accordingly.

    My bridesmaid experiences influenced a lot of decisions accordingly for my wedding. I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to get married on Long Island since it was so expensive. My parents commented how affordable it was to rent our venue (a zoo and botanical) for two days in South Carolina. My husband and I were also determined not to put our friends in any undo financial burdens on those we really wanted there – and the fact that we were able to do this while I was still unemployed dazzles me still. I had two bridesmaids (my sister and my husband’s sister) and I know I paid for the bridesmaid dress for my husband’s sister as she was still assessing her financial situation from an upcoming divorce. My sister paid for her own dress and I told her to pick whatever she felt comfortable with. I didn’t particularly care about what style it was as long as it was in the same color spectrum of that pinkish-purple. My husband paid for tuxedo rentals for everyone he wanted to be in the wedding. The parents of my ringbearer and flower girl picked up the costs for their outfits – a small tuxedo rental and a cute dress found on E-bay for $40.

    Husband and I were pretty detailed about what we wanted in our vision in the wedding. With our wedding party, my husband and I said, “This is what we envisioned. If you need financial help achieving our vision, we’ll be glad to do so. Please contribute any ideas you have in helping our vision come to light. Otherwise, have a good time!” To this day, I am told by people who attended that it was one of the funnest and fanciest weddings ever attended. πŸ˜€

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    MsMisery July 5, 2011, 9:20 am

    I am so glad I’ve never been asked to be a bridesmaid, as it seems like a huge pain in the ass. My BFF was in the Navy when she got married, and was on base in another city, so she just had a simple civil ceremony. I can’t even remember if her parents were there.

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  • becboo84

    BecBoo84 July 6, 2011, 1:44 pm

    I made sure to keep my bridesmaids’ expenses under $500 when I got married (including the dress, travel, shoes, presents, hotel, etc.). However, when I was the MOH in my bff’s wedding, it was in Vegas, so the total cost was well over $1000, but it was also kind of like a vacation.

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    Missy February 5, 2012, 8:36 pm

    I found bridesmaid dresses on overstock.com; $30, $5 if you signed up for a card.
    Groomsmen bought the same shirt in the same color from local store, BOGO ~$25
    Flowergirls bought the same dress from the mall in an after-easter sale. $30
    Shoes, up to them. Just needed to be dressy and black. (Men and women) $0
    Pants (for the men), already had thanks to work. $0
    Hair and makeup, done together (relaxed style) $0.
    Travel: All within driving distance
    Shower: Paid for by family. Minor expenses for games. ~$5

    I paid for nails and jewelry as a thank you.

    I stood up in my sister’s wedding as Maid of Honor and spent close to 2 thousand dollars.
    Dress, shoes, bachelorette party, hotel the night before, showers, limo, hair, makeup, nails and pedicures, lingerie party, shower gifts… The men spent just as much with their tuxes, matching cufflinks, ties, bachelor party (a week in Texas), and limo.

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    lori February 7, 2012, 1:12 pm

    the same post as the above -except i proofread this one!!
    okay – i just turned down my friend to be her bridesmaid. She asked me 2 months ago – i just moved 8 hours away – at the time- i didnt think it would be a big deal.
    This is her second marriage -we are 38 years old – we all have kids-teens-im thinking low key. Because of my distance – i have not been involved in anything- totally understandable -they went dress shopping the other day – they are all larger women – could not find anything – so they are getting the dresses made. They ordered them and put a downpayment on them – without telling me anything. the dresses we were looking at were on the net and well under $200 – anyway- the amounts are now $350+ – for the dress that is being designed and made from scratch- which they texted me -“we need you rcredit card # for downpayment- on dresses-they are getting made- 350 .00” – im like what? How are they supposed to make my dress when i cant be fitted- or do any fittings- i give my measurments?and what?- its has crinolen and built in bras etc- i will have to get it totally altered after it is sent to me- so i phoned her and told her- i cant be her bridesmaid( the wedding is in july)-its not just the money- but just getting the dress made is going to be huge for me – i told her i am honored she would ask me- but i cant be involved any way from my distance- and to be up there with you – while you thank everyone for all their hard work -which i am not worthy of- feels wrong – so i told her i would do her hair and makeup and the others as well – (there are 3 other bridesmaids) – as i am a stylist and specialize in wedding updos – that is my gift to her – Backfired!!!!!! Does not want me to do her hair- or the others – says she is not important enough to me to get over the fact the dress is expensive and a pain in the ass – that she doesnt mean anyhting to me – etcetc……..now what.

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