What Does it Really Cost to be a Bridesmaid?

The time and financial commitment can be huge and out of reach for many.


Bridesmaid Expenses: 
The Breakdown

Bridesmaid Dress $150 
Accessories + Shoes $30–$200
Makeup + Hair $100
Engagement Gift $50
Bridal Shower $200
Shower Gift $50
Bachelorette Party $300
Wedding Gift $125
Travel + Lodging $395

Total $1,400–$1,570

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Time was, being a bridesmaid  meant springing for a dress and shoes, and maybe getting your hair and nails done. You’d probably be expected to chip in for a bridal shower, too. 

Today, pastel satin bridesmaid dresses and matching Dyeables have given way to a much more complex — and expensive — proposition. The time and financial commitment can be huge and out of reach for many. There are pricey designer dresses, shoes, jewelry, hair, and makeup to pay for. There are engagement parties (plus gifts), extravagant bachelorette parties (which often involve travel and hotels, plus gifts), bridal showers (plus gifts), and bridal-party luncheons. And let’s not forget (increasingly popular) destination weddings, which mean hotels and airfare. 

According to Weddington Way, a popular e-commerce site for bridesmaids, the average cost of being a bridesmaid in our area is $1,466, the highest in the nation. If you’ve got a lot of girlfriends, you may have to take on a second job just to pay for bridesmaid expenses! 

So how can you ensure that your bridesmaids will want to be in your wedding, that it’ll be an honor and not a horror — and that they’ll still be talking to you after the nuptials? Be gracious, appreciative, and reasonable. Here’s how: 

Be Upfront About Costs.
Don’t assume that your prospective bridesmaids can afford to be in your wedding; tell them what to expect before you ask them to commit. 

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Offer to Help With Expenses.
For instance, if you’re expecting your bridesmaids to have their hair and makeup done professionally, tell them you’ll pay for half. Or, as a gift, purchase the accessories you’d like them to wear. 

Let Them Choose Their Dresses.
If you have a particular color scheme or style in mind, tell them — but let your bridesmaids take it from there. 

Keep the bachelorette party local.
Do you really need to go to Vegas? Do you have to party for a whole weekend? Consider a fun girls’ night out at a club instead.

Have a Simple Shower.
Or consider a combo shower/bachelorette party, which will cut down on travel expenses and potential scheduling conflicts. If you want to go fancy on one, keep the other one simple. You don’t need to go all-out on both.                                                 

Have a “No Gifts” Stipulation.
Between your shower and your wedding, you’ll be receiving more gifts than you’ll know what to do with. Let your bridesmaids know that their participation is a gift — and so is their love and friendship. 

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If You’re Having a Destination Wedding…
Be especially mindful of other costs. Being part of a destination wedding is a huge undertaking for most people. Depending on your wedding locale, it can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars per bridesmaid when all is said and done. Either cut something else out that bridesmaids generally pay for, offer to pay for one aspect of the trip (airfare or hotels), or pick up the tab for the trip outright. If you can’t afford to do this, chances are your bridesmaids can’t, either.

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