Balancing the Bridesmaid Budget, Duties and Your Checkbook
When you're asked to be a bridesmaid, there are more things to prepare for than just showers and bachelorette parties, and it starts with your pocketbook. It's no secret that being a bridesmaid requires a significant financial commitment, but the good news is that in most cases you will have time to budget accordingly. The bad news is that the costs add up fast.
If you're standing up in a wedding as a bridesmaid, it's likely that you will spend a minimum of $600, and that is if the wedding is local, the dress is inexpensive and you don't have to throw a shower. In most cases, that number is going to double. So if you're a serial bridesmaid like me, then the overall amount you spend on weddings can quickly become astronomical. Speaking from experience, I have found a few ways of keeping the costs to a minimum.
The showergifts are something that are totally unavoidable. You have to bring one to each shower you attend, even if the bride tells you not to (show up empty-handed? No way.). But here is a little secret that no one told you about: The bridal registry is mostly for the parents of the bride and groom and their friends or relatives. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy off the registry, it just means that you don't have to go nuts. Think about splitting a gift with another bridesmaid so that you don't spend more than $50.00. And if you are going to more than one shower, then spend a little less than that. Leave the big stuff to the grown ups. Budget range:$50-$100.
Planning a bridal shower can have some pretty serious cost implications, but there are ways to plan a great event on the cheap. Start by delegating. Find reliable people who are looking to play a more active role in the planning process and have them bring a dish to keep food costs to a minimum. Beyond that, homemade decorations are a great way to save on the dough, and Pinterest is a great place to look for inspiration. Think about using old jars of spaghetti sauce as vases (easily glam'd up with ribbon) and making your own favors. Reducing those costs alone can make all of the difference. However, even with helpers and a little DIY, still expect to spend a little cash. Budget range:$100-$500.
The bemoaned bridesmaid dresses can certainly come with high price tags, and it is the one item that you can't avoid purchasing. Follow the bride's lead and unless she's trying to make you spend $400+ on a dress, just keep your mouth shut. Yes, I know, it's a lot of money, but if you're really concerned about it, get involved in the process right away and start suggesting budget alternatives. In this day and age, however, anything goes. Some brides are choosing really cost-effective options for their bridesmaids, or allowing them to pick their own dresses based on a color swatch. Bridesmaid dresses are rarely ideal, but go ahead and make the most of them, and don't forget to account for shoes and accessories. Budget range: $100-$400.
The Bachelorette Party is one of the most fun parts of being a bridesmaid, but it can also be one of the most expensive. Depending on the festivities, it can get upwards $500 for just one night! But there are ways to make sure that doesn't happen. To start, split the planning duties with as many people as possible. And at a shower, it's totally acceptable to ask the attendees to chip in for the expenses — but make sure that the bride doesn't have to pay for anything. To keep things on the cheap, start the party at someone's house where everyone can bring a dish and their own drinks. That will take care of a good chunk of change. Then, hit the town from there. Warning: traveling bachelorette parties can get pricey, so treat it like a vacation when you go! Budget range: $100-$500
The Wedding Gift is a perfect opportunity to flex your DIY muscle and get the bride and groom something meaningful and homemade. Remember, by the time the wedding comes along, the registry will be pretty much cleaned out, and besides, it's for the old people anyways. So use this as your chance to do something meaningful that doesn't tout the same price tag. Some fun ideas can be found here. Other ideas include an engraved frame, a photo montage from the wedding or something fun for their honeymoon, like an excursion, a bottle of champaign or appetizers at the hotel restaurant. These are thoughtful ideas that can save you some money. In general, the rule for wedding gifts is to cover the cost of your plate (estimated at about $100/person). When you're part of the wedding party, a different set of rules applies. Budget range: $50-$150.
As it stands, the all-in costs of being in a wedding can range pretty substantially. Try to remember through it all that you are doing this for one of your closest friends or a family member. But if money is really tight, there is nothing wrong with filling the bride in on your situation, or politely declining the honor of being a bridesmaid. A good friend will totally understand.