So, how much does it cost to be a bridesmaid? Being a bridesmaid can be a huge honor, but it can also be a burden if you either have befriended a bride who isn’t budget friendly or have said yes to someone you don’t have the strongest relationship with before understanding the cost! This article will give a generic outline as to how much it costs to be a bridesmaid- so you can be in the know before you say yes, or, if you’re the one getting married, you’ll be able to realign your expectations if your bridal party is on a budget!
The Gifts: $200+
If you’re not invited to be part of the bridal party, you have a bit more wiggle room to opt out of the engagement party and bachelorette parties, which, depending on the wedding, can mean even small gifts to attend. If you’re in the bridal party, there is an expectation that you’ll be at the engagement party, bachelorette party, bridal shower and wedding…that’s a lot of gifts!
Not every bachelorette party requires a gift, but some bridal party organize fun games for the bride which usually include the purchase of some funky adult products, ridiculous inflatables, outrageous panties and swag to sport on the night out- it ads up fast!
If you’re sticking to a $200 budget for gifts, here’s the breakdown: $25 for engagement, $25 bachelorette party, $50 for bridal shower, $100 for wedding gift. Of course, every budget is different, you may break it up differently or have to adjust your spending based on relationship and overall budget. See my post on How Much Should You Spend On A Wedding Gift? for more information.
The Dress: $150
The cost of bridesmaid dresses is always a sore point for most of us, even if we like the dress! Of course, the cost can swell up with alterations, custom dying, embellishments and of course, there’s always panty lines and bra straps to worry about if you’re in need of new underthings… before you know it, the cost of getting dressed on your friend’s wedding day can easily be $300 or more if you need special undergarments or alterations.
Hair & Makeup: $200
Brides sometimes can score a deal on hair and makeup if they’ve known a stylist for a long time or have a personal connection, but expect to spend at least $80 on an updo, $40 on nails, and $60 on makeup (if you have it done). The easiest way to cut costs is to skip the makeup session or buy a bulk package for the entire bridal party and interested family members, but it still ain’t cheap!
If you’re going to a beach wedding or are fighting tan lines for your strapless bridesmaid dress, you may need to factor in a trip to the tanning salon for a spray tan touchup and a wax session to make sure you’re ready for the occasion!
Hiring professionals to make you look polished seems to be getting more and more expensive, and many salons capitalize on bridal parties getting their services on the day of the wedding- cut costs by getting your nails done a day or so in advance with a Groupon or local deal.
Travel Costs: $150-$800
Travel costs for a wedding can vary so much it’s hard to estimate, but even a local wedding could cost over $100 if you’re staying onsite after the reception. If you’re flying, save money on airline tickets by booking as soon as you have information from the bride, and of course, use whatever discounts you can find for the hotel or use public transportation or rideshares whenever possible.
The easiest way to blow up your travel budget is to room alone, take taxis and book a flight last minute. As soon as you have the date and location, plan and book early to cut costs!
Total For Being A Bridesmaid: $700- $1350
Yes, if that number is as scary as it sounds, have a talk with your bride or fellow bridesmaids to find ways to pool resources and cut costs. Honestly, many brides are so swept up in planning (or have been saving for years) for their special day so while they’re ready for the expense, they may not be considering the varying budgets of their bridal party or could use some help in reigning in runaway wedding costs.
Additionally, before you even say yes to being a bridesmaid, take a moment to consider if your relationship with the bride is worth the cost to participate. At times, due to social obligation on both sides, we feel compelled to ask certain people to be a part of our wedding, or feel obligated to say yes to the ask. Long distant cousins, coworkers, grade school friends, friends of the groom and sorority sisters we no longer feel close with may not be the best pick, but we feel socially obligated or want to sidestep an awkward conversation…but it’s too expensive not to address and can ruin relationships.
If someone has asked you to be a bridesmaid and you don’t feel you can financially (or personally) handle the responsibility, time commitment and financial obligation of being in a bridal party- find a way to express that because you value the relationship and want her to have the best day possible, it would be best to simply attend her special day as a guest, and to re-extend the invitation to someone else who would be better suited for the role.
Of course, it’s never an easy conversation to have, but if you address it early, respectfully and honestly- she’ll appreciate you more than others who might bail on her last minute or cause her stress down the line! (We all know someone who had a bridesmaid bail too close to the wedding and it’s never fun!)