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It’s an honor to be a bridesmaid. Your friend handpicked you to be a part of her big day! That’s pretty awesome.
But it can also be pretty expensive.
Agreeing to join your friend at the end of the aisle is a serious commitment—one that may eat up a big chunk of your time and money for the next few months. So before you say yes, here’s everything you need to know:
4 Questions to Ask Yourself First
1. Do you have at least $500 set aside?
As we’ll discuss later, you can save money by using wisdom in multiple areas. But you’ll still need a decent amount for your dress and accessories as well as throwing a shower or bachelorette party for the lucky lady. Make sure you can pay for these items—with cash, of course.
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2. Do you live in the city where the wedding will take place?
Modern technology makes maintaining long-distance friendships relatively easy. That’s great! What’s not so great is if you’ll be expected to pay for travel to the wedding and other events as well as your stay. Living out of town shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but it certainly should be considered as you budget for the big day.
3. How close are you and the bride?
Is she your sister, sister-in-law-to-be, cousin, second cousin? Deciding on relatives is, well, relative. Friends are no different. It all depends on your relationship. Will you still be close in 10 years? Participating in the wedding of someone you plan to maintain a lifelong friendship with is a joy. Paying hundreds of dollars for someone you hardly know? Not so much.
4. Are you okay wearing taffeta, satin, tulle, ruffles, bows or some hideous combination of these?
We’d like to say this one is a joke. Unfortunately, you’ve seen the pictures. The super puff sleeve may have passed on to glory—hallelujah—but many brides still find a way to surprise their attendants with a "daring" fashion sense. Accept this as a strong possibility before accepting your place in the bridesmaid lineup.
Related: How busy are you? Christy Wright explains why "yes" may not be your best answer.
If you answered these questions and said "Yes," it’s time to celebrate! On a budget that is.
4 Ways to Save and Stay On Budget
1. Save on attire.
It might not be your wedding, but it is your money, so don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. The key here is to avoid complaining and, instead, be encouraging. The bride probably doesn’t want you to spend a ton of money. She may simply need help finding affordable alternatives. Offer to research similar styles in lower price ranges. You can also suggest she look at stores other than bridal shops for dresses that are less expensive, but just as pretty, and can easily be worn again.
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2. Save on parties.
The engagement party, the bridal tea, showers galore, the bachelorette party. When does it end? Celebrations are fun as long as you don’t let your spending get out of hand. Get a jump start on the savings by proposing reasonably priced ideas—a local overnight getaway instead of a trip to Vegas, a morning at the nail salon instead of a day at the spa. And don’t buy a new dress for every party. The cute ones in your closet will do just fine.
3. Save on gifts.
Again with the parties. If you purchase even a small gift for each event you attend, this will take a huge portion of your budget. Instead, decide to buy one gift and make it a good one. Or go in with the other bridesmaids to get something more substantial. The idea here is that your presence at the party should matter much more than presents.
4. Save on travel.
If you’re actually going the distance to attend the big shindig, cutting travel costs should be a top priority. Consider driving instead of flying, carpooling with other attendees from your area, and sharing a hotel room with at least one other wedding guest. As for the parties mentioned above, ask if some events can be grouped on the same weekend, and say no when you need to.
At the end of the day, if you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid, you need to fess up. Be respectful and tell your friend you’ll need to support her in some other way—like coordinating the ceremony or making the bouquets. The point is that you’re there, not what you’re there as.
Traveling for a wedding? Here’s how to get there without a credit card.