Before You Say Yes, Think About the Cost of Being a Bridesmaid


According to a 2011 Mint.com study, the average total cost of being a bridesmaid was $1,695.  This is a lot of money. Elite Daily breaks the costs down into the following categories:

– $150 – $400 for the dress;

– $50 for alterations

– $200 for engagement, bridal shower, and wedding gifts

– $1,000 for Bachelorette party with flights, dinners and decorations

– $100 for shoes, hair, makeup and accessories; and

– $50 for hotel and transportation fees

= $1,500 – $1,800 cost of a bridesmaid per wedding

The cost of attending a wedding isn’t just hard for the bridal party, it’s difficult for wedding guests as well.  A CouponCabin study found that about 10 percent of wedding guests admitted to going into debt just to attend a wedding.   As I was looking into the costs of being a bridesmaid, I came across this story of a woman who sacrificed her finances and time with family just to say yes to a bridesmaid invitation.

“I’ve delayed bills, I’ve skipped going out with friends, not bought a plane ticket home to visit my family because I couldn’t afford to go to the wedding and visit family out of state,” a woman said of her numerous experiences as a bridesmaid. “At a time when I was unemployed, it was so difficult to pay for things I had to negotiate with my credit card company for a higher limit and to delay a payment so that I could fulfill my bridesmaid obligations.” – Salon.com

One of the costs not commonly captured in the cost of being a bridesmaid is the time off from work that is required.  If you are not a Mon – Fri 9am -5pm employee, then you may have to take off time from work in order to be a bridesmaid.  Even if you are a standard 9am – 5pm employee, with weddings increasingly taking place on Fridays or Sundays, because the location cost for the bride is less, you may have to take time off as well.  Also, since bridesmaids have to generally come in early and leave late then the time off required and the hotel costs can drive costs even higher.

Before you say yes to being a bridesmaid, you really have to be realistic about where you can cut in order to participate in order to avoid going debt and even preserving your friendship with the bride.  According to a UK study of recent brides, 32% of recently married brides are no longer friends with at least 1 of her bridesmaids.  Eleven percent of women cited financial disagreements (relating to costs associated with the wedding that bridesmaids had to pay) as the reason for the demise of the friendship.

Trust me, from personal experience, being a bridesmaid can be difficult.  I was asked by a close friend from high school to be a bridesmaid while I was still in grad school.  I told the bride that I couldn’t afford it, but she insisted that I still be a bridesmaid and suggested ways to cut the costs.  One of the things that she suggested was to only participate in the wedding and that I could skip the other celebrations because I lived out of state.  I told her that I would do it, but I would also have buy her a gift once my summer internship was over a couple of months later when I had my refund check and was back on campus because I couldn’t afford everything at the time.  She was ok with everything.  Once I had my refund check and was back on campus I called her to see what she didn’t receive from her registry, but she never picked up or returned my phone calls.  I finally called a mutual friend of ours to see what was going on and she relayed the message that our mutual friend no longer wanted to be my friend because I didn’t go to her bridal shower, bachelorette party, and I took too long to buy her a wedding gift.  Note, these were all things that we discussed prior to me accepting the bridesmaid invitation.  Of course I was disappointed that I our friendship ended that way and that was how I found out.   This is why it’s so important to be clear on what you can afford and to be up-front and clear in your communication.  However, even with the clearest communication, depending on the bride you may still lose a friend.

So, how do you say yes, but keep the cost cheaper?

  • If possible, see if you can rent the dress from a service like Rip the Runway or if the bride can choose dresses that the bridesmaids can wear again.
  • Ask if the bride can combine the shower and bachelorette party to the same weekend to minimize travel costs.
  • See if you can chip in with the other bridesmaids to buy a gift, which will end up being better than what you all could have afforded individually.
  • Ask if you can skip the group hair and makeup session to and DIY to save between $100-150.
  • When you are asked to be a bridesmaid, the costs add up over time, so see if you can get an idea of what your responsibilities will be over time and when the expenses will occur so you can work the costs into your budget.

If the above savings suggestions don’t work, then be prepared to say no.  Let the bride know that you would love to participate and that you are honored that she asked, but it is no way that you can swing the costs.  According to a Harris Interactive survey conducted for CouponCabin.com, 9% of people asked to be a bridesmaid or a groomsman turned down the invitation because it was too expensive.  It may be tough to say no, but it will preserve your budget and hopefully your friendship!

Let me know how these tips work out for you.  Also, if you have any other suggestions or experiences, please be sure to leave a comment!

Aisha Taylor is a #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle”, the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), and creator of The Live Phenomenal Program. The Live Phenomenal Program is a program designed to give you the tools that you need to totally transform your finances, and stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal! Book your complimentary 20-minute financial clarity session with Aisha here.

If this posts inspires you to get your finances in order, don’t let the work stop here.  Consider enrolling in one of my online courses. I have one on budgeting and one on saving.


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