The bridesmaid budget
Now that summer is in full swing, so is wedding season. Most of my good friends are already married, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a wedding party three times so far in my life.
Recently, I was asked to be maid of honour at my friend’s summer wedding in 2013. Even though the big day is over a year away, I will need to create a budget, and spend every month saving money – because while I am incredibly happy to be a part of their wedding day, the costs associated with being a maid of honour can be substantial.
According to Mint.com, the estimated cost of being a bridesmaid can be close to $1,700. When you consider the cost of flights, the dress, alterations, accessories, gifts – plus the engagement party, shower, and bachelorette party, it can be easy to see how you could end up spending much more than the $1,700 estimation.
Here are some tips to help you keep on top of your spending, and make sure the bride has the most memorable experience of her life.
Create a budget
A budget might sound boring when you have parties to throw and outfits to buy, but that’s precisely why you need one. As a bridesmaid, I have spent well over Mint.com’s $1,700 estimation on more than one occasion – destination weddings will put a big dent in anybody’s budget. But without a budget to help me stay focused, I might not have been able tos save up enough money, and I definitely would have ended up spending much more than I was able to afford.
Your budget should account for every expense, not just the major items like the dress, and cost of the flights. You need to also factor in the cost of dress alterations, accessories, gifts, cab rides, celebratory meals out, alcohol, party favours, and decorations. Once you’ve added up all the costs, create a savings plan to see how much you will need to save, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you simply can’t afford everything the bride wants. Being honest with the bride will save you both from any resentment or hard feelings.
The bridesmaid dress
Your dress will likely be nowhere as expensive as the bride’s wedding dress, but it doesn’t mean your outfit will be cheap. The bridesmaid dresses I’ve purchased have ranged from $75 to well over $200 – and that’s before alterations.
Sometimes a bride will want each of her bridesmaids to wear matching outfits, shoes, and accessories. It works if everybody has the same price range in mind. However, if the bride hasn’t started narrowing down dress choices, try asking the bride to pick colour swatches for the dress and all of the accessories – that way each person in the bridal party will be able to find everything she needs within her own budget and personal style.
The last time I was a maid of honour, the bride picked a colour swatch and I found the perfect dress online. It was $225 before taxes and shipping, so I quickly searched eBay to see if anybody was selling the dress in my size. When I found it, I e-mailed the bride a photo, got her approval for the dress, and bought it off of eBay – for 75 per cent less than on the website.
Consider your gift purchases
If you are part of the wedding party, not only will you be invited to the wedding, but you will probably be invited to the engagement party, wedding shower, bachelorette party as well. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on each gift. Consider buying smaller gifts for the parties leading up to the wedding, and save your “big” gift for the wedding itself.
Split the costs
Sometimes it can be a nightmare trying to split up the expenses for party favours, decorations, and other miscellaneous items with the other bridesmaids. A free app like Splitwise (available for iPhone and Android) can help you keep track of group expenses, record payments, and divide up bills between multiple people.
Group the events
If the other bridesmaids live out of town, try not to ask them to fly in for multiple events. Sit down with the bride and find a time that works for everyone – grouping the shower and bachelorette party on the same weekend will save a lot of money.
It is important to be honest with yourself, and with the bride. If you cannot afford to be part of the wedding party, be appreciative of the honour, but decline as soon as possible. Both you and the bride will be disappointed, but consider offering to help with the wedding in a lesser role instead. Organizing the bachelorette party, helping to mail the invitations, or putting together the wedding favours will be much appreciated by the bride.
Have you ever said no to being part of a wedding party?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a writer, personal finance blogger, and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.