Being asked to be a bridesmaid is easily one of the happiest, most memorable moments in a friendship. What’s better than a chance to celebrate the love of some of your best friends? However, what was once a simple and joyful role has, in recent years, turned into an (often) expensive commitment. Between the bridal shower, bachelorette party, dress, and the wedding itself, it’s becoming costly to stand by your friend’s side on her big day. Regardless of whether or not it’s because of social media or the wedding industry itself, it’s a problem.
So, it’s no surprise that bridesmaid burnout is on the rise. Many find themselves financially strained and emotionally exhausted by the time the big day arrives. That’s why we’re diving into why being a bridesmaid has become so expensive and sharing some practical ways to avoid feeling resentful towards those tying the knot.
How Much Does it Cost to Be a Bridesmaid?
While it’s hard to put a definitive number on what it costs to be a bridesmaid, after doing a little research, we discovered that, on average, bridesmaids are spending anywhere from $1,800 to $2,500 per wedding. Yes, you read that right. That means that if you are a bridesmaid at just two weddings a year, you could easily be spending up to $5,000.
The Rising Costs of Being a Bridesmaid
One of the first expenses that come to mind when you think about being a bridesmaid is the dress. Traditionally, bridesmaids are expected to purchase a dress that matches the bride’s vision, and these dresses can be quite pricey. Add alterations and accessories to the mix, and you’re looking at a significant expense. Luckily, we are seeing more couples turn to the mismatched bridesmaid dress look, allowing the bridesmaids to pick their own dresses. However, we don’t foresee the bride picking out the dress of their choice going anywhere anytime soon.
Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties
Beyond the dress, bridesmaids are often expected to contribute to the cost of events like bridal showers and bachelorette parties. From decor to outfits to food and drink, there’s a lot that goes into these events. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that more and more brides are choosing to have destination bachelorette parties. Airfare to destinations like Mexico, Nashville, and Austin can cost hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) alone, depending on your departure destination. And can’t forget the Airbnb or hotel!
Travel and Accommodation
If the wedding is not local, bridesmaids are faced with the cost of travel, accommodation, and possibly even multiple trips for dress fittings, showers, and the wedding itself. This is especially true after your friends begin to move away after school. The bride may also suggest that you all stay near the venue on the day of the wedding, even if it’s local, so you’re not necessarily out of the woods there, either.
On top of all the other expenses, bridesmaids are typically expected to give the bride and groom a wedding gift. This additional cost can add up, especially if the couple has an expensive registry. This is also true for a bridal shower gift.
Hair and Makeup
This expense is one that truly varies depending on the wedding. Some brides may request or require bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup professionally done, which can be another costly addition to the list. Fortunately, more often than not, the bride is willing to include it in her wedding budget, or she gives the bridesmaids the option to do it themselves. However, this is a detail you’ll want to iron out early on.
Ways to Avoid Bridesmaid Burnout
The key (and most important tip we can give you) to avoiding bridesmaid burnout is open and honest communication with the bride. If you have concerns about the costs associated with being a bridesmaid, discuss them early in the planning process. A considerate friend will appreciate your honesty and may be willing to make adjustments to accommodate your budget.
Set a Budget
The minute you become a bridesmaid, establish a clear budget for your bridesmaid expenses. This budget should include the dress, travel, accommodation, gifts, and any other costs you anticipate. Sticking to this budget will help you avoid overspending. Though there are going to be some expenses that are going to be unclear in the beginning (like the bachelorette party, for example), if you have a ballpark number of what you’re willing to spend in total, it’ll be easier for you to know where to allocate specific funds.
Don’t Be Afraid to DIY
Get creative with your contributions to bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Instead of expensive dinners or spa days, consider hosting a low-cost, personalized event like a picnic or game night. The same holds true for gifts. Some of the most special gifts one can receive come from the heart, not a store.
Borrow or Rent
If the bride has her heart set on an expensive dress, consider renting it or borrowing it from a friend. If you are allowed to choose your own dress but know that you’re not going to wear it again after the big day, consider a dress rental program like Nuuly or Rent the Runway. You can also find used dresses for good prices on sites like Poshmark or Depop.
While your presence and contributions to other wedding activities should count as a gift, if you’re still hoping to gift the newlyweds a present off of their registry, coordinate with other bridesmaids to give a joint gift. This way, you can contribute meaningfully without taking on the entire cost yourself.
Lastly, our other piece of advice is to make sure you don’t forget to take care of yourself throughout the process. Bridesmaid duties can be demanding, both emotionally and financially. Make time for self-care activities and ensure that you’re not neglecting your own well-being. If it gets to be too much, go back to that open line of communication that we mentioned earlier. The bride, if a true friend, will understand. Chances are, they’ve been in the exact same boat before.
Bridesmaid burnout is a real concern today, but with open communication, budgeting, and a little creativity, you can still be there for your best friends on their special day without sacrificing your own financial and emotional well-being. Still struggling? We’ve put together 7 ways a bride can help save her bridesmaids money–it may be a useful tool to send her way!