6 Tips for Spending Less as a Bridesmaid

$1,695.

“What’s that the price of?” you might be wondering. A fabulous vacation to an exotic island? A down-payment on a new car? The price of heating your home for the winter?

Think again! That’s the amount, according to a 2010 study done by WeddingChannel.com, that the average American woman spends on being a bridesmaid. And that’s per wedding. So if you’re a really good friend or have a lot of sisters, you’re in big trouble.

help me i'm poor

A couple of weeks ago I blogged some tips on how the bride and groom can save a few bucks on their big day. I realized after writing it, however, that those tips didn’t really help me out much because I personally have never been a bride. What I have been a lot recently is a bridesmaid. And while I am genuinely always flattered and excited to be one, I am starting to feel the strain it puts on my wallet a little bit. So here are 6 tips for how you can shine in your chiffon and nude heels without breaking the bank.

  1. It’s okay to say no. You might feel guilty declining, but $1,695 is a hefty price tag. As much as you want to be there for the bride on her big day, sometimes it’s not economically feasible. And no one wants to be that party-pooper bridesmaid who complains about how expensive everything is all the time. Before you say yes, be sure you can commit financially to your duties. If not, tell the the bride you’re flattered she wants to include you in her special day, but you’ll need to do it as a regular guest instead of as a member of the wedding party.
  2. Rent a dress. You’re not going to wear it again. Just accept that before you buy it. I’m not sure whether it’s the chiffon or the color or what, but bridesmaid dresses just have a distinct look that makes them unwearable at any event where you will not be standing next to a girl in white while holding a bouquet. Before you start shopping, recommend that the bride check out sites that let you rent dresses for cheaper than you purchase them. There are quite a few out there like Rent the Dress, Vow to be Chic, and Union Station that let you rent a dress for the day for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one. And they have the same designer, styles, and color options of a traditional bridal shop. Plus once you wear it you can return it, so it doesn’t take up space in your closet.
  3. Reign in the pre-wedding celebrations. We all want to be remembered as the bridesmaid that threw the bachelorette of the century, but it’s also important to keep money in mind when planning these pre-wedding events. You don’t have to travel somewhere far away for the bachelorette to be exciting. A girls night out in your hometown or an old-fashioned slumber party could be just as fun, but more budget-friendly. Likewise the bridal shower venue and decorations don’t have to be extravagant. Go on Pinterest, DIY some personalized decorations, and make an at-home shower look spectacular. If some bridesmaids or important guests are coming from far away, consider having both events on the same day or weekend to limit travel costs. And last but not least, keep the bridal “do-dads” to a minimum. You don’t need “Team Bride” t-shirts, buttons, hats, sashes, and shot glasses. Pick one item and wear it proudly.

    My mom and I threw a Downton Abbey themed tea for my sister's bridal shower in our front yard. Lots of DIY savings involved.

    My mom and I threw a Downton Abbey themed tea for my sister’s bridal shower in our front yard. Lots of DIY savings involved.

  4. Be gift savvy. Before you start shopping determine a realistic amount to spend on gifts that fits your budget. Remember that you’ll probably have to get more than one (shower, wedding, maybe even engagement part and bachelorette). Then, hit the registry early. If you wait too long, your options are more limited and there might not be anything left in your price range. Or if you’re crafty, consider DIYing something for the happy couple. Another way to combat cost is to give a group gift from all the bridesmaids. If everyone chips in, you might be able to purchase something nice and meaningful without breaking the bank. Or you can do something creative like a wedding day survival kit for the bride from all her girls.
  5. The more the merrier. Travel and accommodations are another wedding expense that can start to burst your budget. Keep the cost down by sharing it with friends. Driving to the wedding? Carpool and have everyone pitch in for gas. Staying in a hotel room? Cram as many people in there as you can! You can even ask if the hotel has a cot or bring sleeping bags. And remember, the earlier you book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc., the lower the price is. So as soon as you know the details of the wedding, start the hunt for the best travel prices.
  6. DIY hair and make-up. If possible, do your own hair and make up on the day. Or have all the bridesmaids do hair and make-up for each other. You want to look good in the pictures, but professional hair and make-up can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. Not cheap! YouTube has no shortage of tutorials to help you out if, like me, your beauty regime normally consists of putting on mascara and (maybe) brushing your hair. If the bride is hesitant about DIY beauty, do a test-run at the bridal shower or bachelorette to make sure she likes your look.

Hope these tips help you walk down the aisle confident that you are on your A-game, both as a bridesmaid and a financial wizard. Happy Wedding Season!

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