The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

When one of your closest friends asks you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, 2 things likely go through your mind.

1. OMG I'm so excited!
2. How much is this going to cost me?

We don't mean to sound insensitive, but everyone knows that weddings are just plain expensive all the way around.  But instead of seeing dollar signs throughout your friend's engagement, we want to help you budget so you can enjoy what is sure to be a fun time for everyone.  (Quick disclaimer - we are not basing these costs on anything scientific, but just our own experiences in being bridesmaids.  All numbers below are purely estimates.)

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The Dress – Most bridesmaid dresses range in price from about $100-$300.  There isn’t much you can do to get around this.  If this number is hard for you to stomach, try to think of other occasions where you can get another use out of the dress.  If it’s a gown, you might even be able to have the dress hemmed to knee length after the wedding to make it more versatile. 

There are even websites where you can sell your bridesmaid dresses, but this can get a bit tricky when you’ve had alterations done.  If you really think you’ll never wear the dress again, consider donating it.  It might give you a small tax write-off, and at the very least, some warm and fuzzies.

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Alterations – This one is really hard to estimate because it depends so much on the material of the dress and how much you need altered.  A simple hem might range in price from $30-$50, and taking in the sides can be roughly the same.  So you may be looking at anywhere from $30-$100 for alterations.  We highly recommend doing some price comparisons around town.  The bridal stores might have recommended tailors, but anytime a vendor is affiliated with weddings, the prices tend to be higher. 

Accessories – In our experience, if the bride wants you to wear very specific jewelry or shoes on the wedding day, she should probably foot the bill.  Jewelry and shoes for the wedding day are great for bridesmaid thank you gifts.  Otherwise, most brides will probably ask you to wear something simple that you already have – small studs, pearls, gold/silver/black shoes, etc.  If you don’t have any of these items, you might want to budget around $75-$100.  The good news here is if you pick it out yourself, you’ll likely be able to get good use out of it in the future.

Shower – Although it’s not a definite that you will be throwing a shower, we want to make sure you are prepared money-wise.  This one really depends on how many people are invited and how many girls are splitting the hosting duties.  If you have 3-4 hostesses for a shower of less than 30 people, you should probably plan to spend about $100-$200 a girl.  It may seem like a lot, but just think about how fast the money would add up if you were to throw it at a restaurant.  Check out our shower themes for some great ideas for at-home showers that won’t break the bank. 

Bachelorette Party – The bachelorette party can have such a wide range of costs, so this is a particularly tough one.  If you’re going out to dinner and a night on the town, we think $50-$75 is a safe bet (assuming some lovely gentlemen might help with the drink bill.)  If you’re doing a semi-local weekend getaway at a lake house or rented condo, you might plan for about $200-$250 each.  If you’re traveling to Vegas, for example, you’re going to need at MINIMUM $500 for your flight, room, and spending money.  Most brides will take her friends’ budgets into consideration before deciding on plans.

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Hair – We have yet to meet a bride who required her bridesmaids to get their hair done at their own expense.  Typically the bride won’t care what you do with your hair or will spring for your updos herself.  If you really want to get your hair done, prices for updos can range from $35-$75.  Call a few nearby salons to compare prices, and see if you can get a deal for booking multiple appointments.  Just remember to do this early – Saturdays book up quickly. 

Gifts – This one is a touchy subject, but we’re going to share our opinion.  You need to bring a gift for every event you are invited to.  The only exception is if the bride is having multiple showers.  In that case, one shower gift is acceptable.  We think $25-$50 is a good amount for an engagement party or shower gift depending on your relationship with the bride.  As for the wedding gift, we recommend budgeting between $75 and $200

If these expenses are way out of your budget, no worries.  Instead of buying a semi-expensive gift off the registry, do something really thoughtful instead.  Make a DIY monogrammed gift, or buy a frame for the couples’ wedding invitation.  These numbers are just benchmarks and not set in stone.

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According to this article on CNN, the average cost of being in a friend’s wedding is $1695.  The good news is you typically have about a year to spread these costs around, so it won’t hit your bank account all at once.

Again, these are just estimates based on our experience, and there are definitely ways you can save money.  For all your brides out there – keep the dollar signs in check to make sure your maids can have a great time celebrating without having to take a second job.

What has been your experience with bridesmaid costs - do you think our estimates are correct?  Are there any expenses we are forgetting?