According to a new survey by coupon site Dressmebridal.co.uk, it costs $734 to perform the honor of being a bridesmaid or groomsman — and that figure doesn’t even include the cost of gifts! Even worse: 17% of respondents went into debt in order to pay for it all.
There were 2,948 participants in total, all of whom are 18 or older and have participated in a wedding during the past year. They were asked to take into account the costs of attending the bachelor/bachelorette party, getting an outfit and accessories, hair/beauty/grooming, hotel and travel costs, and paying for drinks on the big day (no, that’s not a typo).
In certain cases, the costs associated with being a bridesmaid or groomsmen took a toll on their friendships: 34% of survey-takers confirmed that they resented the amount of money they were required to spend and 21% admitted this caused conflicts within the bridal party. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 54% said they’d have to consider the costs before being a bridesmaid or groomsman ever again and 15% regretted ever having said “I do” to the duty in the first place.
“It’s important for brides and grooms to remember what matters, which is celebrating their commitment with all their friends and family and everyone having a good time. It may be difficult to speak up, but so long as you speak truthfully and tactfully, the happy couple will thank you for it,” says Matthew Wood of Dressmebridal.co.uk.
BG brides, here are some dos and don’ts for ensuring a budget-friendly bridal party experience:
1. Do select a dress style at a reasonable price point.
Let’s face it: The odds that your ‘maids will wear that $300 floor-length, sequined number you found on Pinterest again after the wedding is slim. Consider chipping in for part of the cost as your thank-you gift to them, if that’s within your means. Or select a color and fabric and help them find a style they love at a price they can afford.
- Do keep in mind that tailoring is part of the outfit equation.
If everyone’s on a tight budget, then avoid dresses with boning or intricate sleeves that would make the gown difficult to be altered. Bonus: The more simple and streamlined the dress is, the greater the chance that it will look flattering on everyone.
Don’t go overboard with the accessories.
Most of your bridesmaids already probably have a pair of go-to black, metallic, or neutral heels in their closet. Mint? Not so much. Yes, those let’s-all-stand-in-a-circle shoe pics are cute, but what they’ll heart even more is using what they’ve already got.
Don’t force everyone to have their hair and makeup professionally done.
Have a friend who can do a top-knot and apply false lashes in her sleep? Ask if she could help out all the ‘maids as part of her wedding gift to you. Or if your ladies just don’t feel comfortable taking on that DIY YouTube tutorial (understandable!), see if you could arrange to have a discounted group rate at a blow-out bar. If you can swing it, offer to pick up the tab as their thank-you gift.
- Do manage your expectations when it comes to the bridal shower and bachelorette party.
Bridal shower: In many instances, the bride’s parents offer to contribute to the costs to help alleviate the financial burden for the bridal party (especially if the shower is held in a restaurant). So, if money is a factor, and your bridal party alone is paying for the shower, they might consider having it in someone’s home to keep expenses down. A brunch, pool party or barbecue creates a fun, informal atmosphere that will be enjoyable, relaxing and appreciated by all.
Bachelorette party: If you’ve been daydreaming about a weekend jaunt to a hotspot like Las Vegas, Miami or New York but your friends are less-than-psyched about the idea, then get creative and think local. Or better yet, remove yourself from the equation and tell your bridal party that you’d be happy with anything they plan, so they can decide amongst themselves how to celebrate your last “fling before the ring.” We’ve interviewed bridesmaids who have planned everything from a Barbie Dreamhouse bash to a Gatsby-inspired night out to even a cowgirl bachelorette. Of course, it goes without saying that it’s totally acceptable to let them know in advance if there are any deal-breakers (aka phallic-shaped anything).
- Do consider having a “one gift” policy…
…If you’re having multiple engagement parties, bridal showers or bachelorette parties thrown in your honor. Your bridesmaids will secretly breathe a sigh of relief that they don’t have to buy your blender, racy lingerie set AND chip in on that work group gift.
Do be considerate of their time (time is money, after all).
Don’t expect them to spend hours helping you mail out invitations, address envelopes, hunt for favors, make escort cards or any other DIY project. If they offer to help that’s one thing but don’t dictate a schedule.
Bottom line: 76% of the survey respondents didn’t expect to spend as much as they did throughout the wedding planning process, so it’s important to let your bridesmaids know what your expectations are upfront. Bridesmaids, if the total is more than you can afford, be open with the bride. Find out what’s most important to her and discuss ways that things can be scaled back. True friends will understand and make it work!
Plus, learn how to handle an uncooperative bridesmaid and other common bridal party dilemmas.