Frugal Weddings: How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid?

July 3, 2013

How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid


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!)

12 comments so far.

12 responses to “Frugal Weddings: How Much Does It Cost To Be A Bridesmaid?”

  1. It was about $1000 to be in my BFF’s wedding party. A lot (especially considering that we spent just 25% of that amount on our own wedding), but worth it to be there for her and her family on a very stressful weekend.

  2. Being a bridesmaid is expensive business! I’ve spent up to $2,000 to be a part of one friend’s wedding. I’m so happy I don’t see any more weddings on the horizon for a while/

  3. Joanna says:

    Yes! Being a bridesmaid is SO expensive… I know I easily spent $800 when all was said and done even though my sister is amazing and we really saved money it wasn’t totally cheap either! Luckily, she asked us all early and we saved up a bit but had I not planned for it and put money aside, I would have been so stressed. The dress was easily $175 after alterations and accessories.

  4. Allison says:

    Reading posts like this reminds me I was SO lucky with my friend’s wedding last year.

    We got dresses on sale from J. Crew about $90 each, no alterations, the mother of the groom bought our shoes, the bride didn’t care about hair/makeup/jewelry/nails – whatever we wanted (within colors and reason).
    Since they were already living across the country from us & family there was no engagement party or bachelorette party. The whole wedding party had a dinner at about $30/person, 3 of us split the bridal shower lunch at $75/person. And then about $150 for the wedding gift.
    (I did spring for my own hotel room at $150/night since I had my BF with me, but the rest of the girls split one room for $40 each. Plus gas for the 20 miles from my house.)
    Even if I’m forgetting things, maybe $800 total? $400-500 for the girls splitting the room? Not bad!

    It all seems to depend on the bride, what style her wedding is, and what her family situation is like – another friend is getting married this summer and while I’m not in the wedding, I’m hearing $200-300 for the dress+alterations from some of the bridesmaids, plus she had several showers for different parts of the family (the bridal party attended at least 2, plus an engagement party I believe was wedding party only) and a bachelorette party. Between pitching in for the limo & booze and the shower/bachelorette/wedding presents, I might actually spend more on her wedding than the one I was in! But I’m the type that loves getting fun and thoughtful presents for people, so I don’t mind.

  5. Amy says:

    I’m a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding in a little over a month & you’re right, it’s so expensive! I would love to be able to cut some costs but that hasn’t happened yet, but I think I’ll just take a deep breath & enjoy it – thankfully it doesn’t happen that often 🙂

  6. Sara D. says:

    When I get married I hope to not be a bridezilla… it can easily cost a small fortune to be in a friend’s wedding!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I dread being asked to be a bridesmaid. I feel I have to accept although I really can’t afford to be setting someone else up with household items in the form of gifts when I don’t have many of the basics myself. And the last wedding I was bridesmaid at the bridesmaid gowns were so hideous and the colour so horrible I tossed it in the charity bin the following day. Worn once, then it was a $230 donated to charity without even getting a receipt to claim the loss as a charity donation.

  8. Vanessa Fox says:

    I’ve led the life of a have not for most of my childhood. Now that I have a good job and surplus income I can pretty much afford whatever I want… well, maybe with the help of Mr. Visa and his friends, Mr. Amex and Mr. MC. Anyway, as little girls do I dreamt of my wedding, but did so from the economic realities I knew as a child. Now I am all grown up and soon to be married. I have friends I want as bridesmaids that do OK, and others that are really struggling financially. As a friend I would never add hardship to benefit myself, so I decided that whatever my least financially capable friend can handle will be the most any bridesmaid would be asked to spend. After all, I want my friends to remain my friends after their bridesmaid duties are over, rather than hate me because I added to their financial hardships. Plus, I will have had the wedding I dreamed of a a child anyway.

  9. No Name says:

    I have just forwarded the link to this post to 3 of my friends who were bridesmaids with me at one of the worst times of my life. Bridezilla hardly describes what our friend turned into, nor does Dominatrix Bride Of Satan. The crying is over, and I think I speak for us all when I say I hope her husband, who we only met just before the wedding, is a control freak who forbids her to maintain contact with any of her former friends. That way we will not have to avoid her like a plague. We didn’t buy expensive enough gifts, our hair was wrong, we didn’t have the gowns fitted properly, you name it, it was not good enough. At one time or another each of us walked out, only to be talked into staying by the other 3. Looking back, we should have all just walk out and saved ourselves a lot of stress, berating and abuse. Never again will I agree to be a bridesmaid… which I say now, but probably will not stick to.

  10. Ashley says:

    I am in a wedding in March and have been In 5 weddings in the last 2 years and I’m also in my third year of graduate school, and I’m starting to consider saying no to friends getting married because I simply can’t afford being a bridesmaid! The current wedding I’m in is easily costing $800 total. Insane!

  11. Sandra says:

    When I got married our entire wedding cost under $2000! We got married on a Wednesday evening so the photographer charged us less than half of his usual price, the wedding was on a public beach in Laguna, CA, so had an amazing free backdrop, no decorations needed, and my sister was the only bridesmaid, and she picked out her own dress. Afterwards we went to a local restaurant and everyone paid for their own food. We were told that it was the most enjoyable wedding everyone had been to because we were both so relaxed (there was nothing to stress about) and then at the weekend we had a reception at my father-in-law’s house where everyone had a great time! More frugal weddings are possible, you just need to think about what is truly essential. The wedding industry is built to make you spend money on unnecessary things that you will never use again in your life!

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