Be a Bridesmaid and Go Broke?

by TTMK on May 10, 2012 · 9 comments

This is a post about being a bridesmaid, but I have to admit up front that I have never been one. And never will. Which is a good thing, because I’m male!

With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to say that I came across an article on CNN that caught my eye regarding the cost of being a bridesmaid.    It turns out that it’s more expensive than I would have thought!

Apparently, it’s enough to be a big financial expense for some women.  The article found a source that indicated that the average cost of being a bridesmaid was nearly $1,700. Yes, that’s right. Almost $1,700.  For some people, that’s like a mortgage payment, or even more!

Now, I have to wonder what goes through the mind of somebody who is asked to be a bridesmaid.  On the one hand, it has to be an honor, if it’s a friend with whom you are particularly close as well as happy for regarding her nuptials.  On the other hand, by saying yes you sign up for a very substantial expense.  Of course if you say no, you risk irreparable harm to the friendship.

I recall getting ready to ask a friend to be in my wedding, way back when, when I was rejected.  Actually, I told him about the dates of the wedding, and he immediately said that he wouldn’t be able to make it.  This was somebody I had known for many years, and I thought his excuse of preparing for grad school finals was weak.  I played it cool, and was nice to him, saying no problem. Afterward, I got more than a little annoyed as I thought about how that conversation went down.  Shocking as it may seem, fair or not, I more or less ended the friendship after that.  Looking back, it was probably a bit silly.

So yes, it might not be fair, but people can get overly sensitive about wedding related stuff.  Realistically, this applies more to brides than grooms from my observations, despite what I shared about myself.  Bottom line is that if a good friend asks you, how do you say no?

To me, with that type of expense, maybe it’s time to tone down the wedding and make it less expensive. Additionally, what about the idea that the people hosting the wedding should be paying for a substantial amount of these expenses? I mean, asking someone to play a role in a wedding that’s yours, yet making them pay and arm and a leg for the privilege of doing so, seems a bit off.  But again, it seems to be the custom.

My Questions for You

What went through your mind when you were asked by someone to be a bridesmaid? Did expenses factor in?

Also, when asking someone to be a bridesmaid, did you think of how much they would be spending?

What do you think of the notion that the people hosting the wedding should help defray a large percentage of the costs of people in the wedding party?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter May 10, 2012 at 9:47 am

When we were getting married we made sure there wasn’t a huge financial burden on our friends. I don’t think it is appropriate to make them pay a ton of money. The girls bought their dresses but they were dresses they liked and would wear again. I bought their shoes, paid for their hair, and for their makeup. The boys rented their tuxes for cheap. Everyone had fun and no one felt like they were put in an awkward situation.

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TTMK May 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Miss T – it sounds like you handled it very well. One would think your consideration was appreciated!

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Emily @ evolvingPF May 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

I have never been a bridesmaid, but I had four bridesmaids at our wedding. I was VERY conscious of how much we were asking them to spend because 1) one of my bridesmaids was in grad school and my sister was still dependent on my parents and 2) all but my sister had to fly to our city for the wedding. I think the only required cost they incurred above the cost they would have to attend the wedding just as guests was their dresses, which were around $100. I think they all wore shoes that they already owned as we weren’t picky. We made a salon appointment for nails, hair and makeup but it was totally optional for them – I think most got two out of the three services, so again that would be $100 or less. We offered for them to stay in my apartment and all but one did, so they were saved the cost of getting hotel rooms for three nights, and I cooked a few meals for them so they didn’t have to eat out. I didn’t have any bachelorette party or engagement parties so they didn’t have additional travel or hosting costs. So I think that was about as reasonable as it could get, given that it was expensive for them to attend the wedding in the first place because of the flights.

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TTMK May 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Emily – it seems as if you were conscious about costs, and that’s really good to read. So many brides to be can turn into bridezillas. Great that you were fair to your bridesmaids, as those costs/services seem very reasonable. Not that I’m an expert, but I know a thing or two on the subject of weddings!

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Broke Professionals May 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Love this post – so timely for me. I’m in a wedding this fall in Washington, DC, and I have already shelled out $1000 for shoes, dress, and two nights in a DC-area hotel (that was not going to be cheap on ANY planet!). I figure I have at least $1,000 more in expenses to go, especially when I factor in throwing a shower and bachelorette party. The bride-to-be was in my wedding, and I was especially frugal for my friends’ behalf – then again, my hubby and I were RIGHT out of college, and poor ourselves… so we were trying to keep costs at a minimum PERIOD.

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TTMK May 12, 2012 at 3:29 pm

BP – that sounds expensive. It’s interesting how you were more frugal on their behalf, but this friend sure isn’t frugal on her bridesmaids’ behalf! Well, maybe when she was in your wedding, the timing of being right out of school just set up different expectations. Or, maybe it’s that being older now and more established she assumes that people can spend more. Either way, this sounds like a textbook example of how these things can get really expensive for the bridesmaids. I hope you do get to enjoy the wedding and that you both have a fun time.

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LifeInTransition May 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

I’ve been a bridesmaid once and I just had a wedding with 6 bridesmaids.
I didn’t spend too much money as a bridesmaid since the bride was still in grad school, so therefore proabably a lot more money conscious than someone who can afford to pay $30,000+ for their own wedding.

I tried to keep costs low for my bridesmaids since all of them were grad and undergrad students. The dress was under $90, and I let them pick their own shoe or wear ones they already own if they were the right color. The only other cost was hair, and they were free to get make up done at the salon.

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TTMK May 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Life In Transition – It seems like you were quite reasonable in terms of costs. Under $90 seems very fair, from my non-expert opinion!

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Aloysa @My Broken Coin May 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Wow! I never was asked to be a bridesmaid, so I never experienced it. But holy moly the price tag! I would simply refuse to spend that much. Maybe that’s why no one ever asked me? :))))

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