To be by your friend throughout the highs and lows of the wedding planning process, to see her jitters on The Big Day, to see the sweet but nervous smiles throughout the ceremony, and to cry along with her as she exchanges vows with her soon-to-be-brand-new-husband is something every friend wants to do. And, if you’re a lady there’s a very high likelihood that you’ve had a friend ask you to be in her wedding.
We all want to support those closest to us and to be there when they need us. But what do you do if you’re broke, in debt, have no money, are on a Spending Fast, or a Spending Diet, and you get asked to be in a wedding?
This time of year I get a lot of emails requesting tips on how to handle the high-cost of being a bridesmaid.
The emails usually go a little something like this:
“I’m a bridesmaid for one of my oldest friends this summer and I just found out that the planner of her shower wants to do a weekend away – it would include a day at the spa and 2 nights of going out dancing and having what I’m sure would be a fun time. But there is no way I can afford the hotel, spa day, dinner, drinks and all of the other expenses. What do I do?!! I’ll feel like a bad friend if I can’t go..but I will already be spending money on the dress for her wedding, which is a large expense in my opinion! Help!”
No one wants to be the friend that’s all, “How ’bout we do a potluck y’all!” (As incredibly sweet as a wedding like that would be.)
How to handle the high-cost of being a bridesmaid and what to do about it…
So, first things first. If you’ve already committed to being in the wedding you can’t back out after that. Because if you do, the friendship will likely be irretrievably broken. The only solution is to make the best of it. There are a lot of social moments that can be awkward or uncomfortable if you’re trying to save money and be frugal, and I’ve learned that sometimes it’s all about damage control.
When I find out that a friend (or sister) got engaged I try to evaluate the situation and figure out if I might be asked to be in the wedding. I figure that if I can be prepared for the request then that will make all the difference. It’s also good to think about being a bridesmaid far in advance of being asked because if you wait until she actually asks then they’ll be a super long pause and then it’ll be obvious that you’re thinking about it and she won’t like that, at all.
I consider these 8 aspects
1. Was she in my wedding?
2. How close am I to her? Acquaintance, friend (but not super close), friend (close), best friend, or sister?
3. Can I pay for the bridesmaid dress that will most likely be an average of $100 + possible hemming and tailoring? Matching shoes, accessories (necklace, earrings, etc.), hair styling and coordinating makeup will also be an additional cost.
4. If I’m asked to be the Maid of Honor I’ll be responsible for throwing the Bridal Shower and (most likely) the Bachelorette Party too. If I don’t end up being responsible for hosting the Bachelorette Party too then I’ll be responsible for making sure it happens, and attendance at both the Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party will be expected.
5. If I’m asked to be a Bridesmaid then I may be asked by the Maid of Honor to pay for part of the Bridal shower and/or part of the Bachelorette Party and I’ll be expected to give a gift for each event as well.
6. Will the Wedding, Bridal shower, and Bachelorette party be out of state? Because that will mean food, flight, hotel, and car rental costs.
7. Do I have enough paid time off (PTO) time from work to participate in and attend all of the events? If I don’t have enough PTO that could mean a loss of income.
8. Can I also afford a wedding gift for the couple?
It feels like a bummer to think about these things during such exciting times but it’s super important because if you can’t afford to be a part of the wedding and all that it entails it’s best to tell her at the time she asks you to be in the wedding. Make a heavy emphasize on the fact that you love her, be forthright, be honest, and lay it out there. It’s time to go into heart-to-heart mode and explain that your money situation is not ideal right now and that you want to be a part of the wedding, but maybe in other ways?
Some things you could do that show your love and support for her and her big day are things like:
Helping to set up the reception area so it’s just right
Doing last-minute errands and tasks the day of the wedding (it is SO helpful to have someone dedicated to the random things that come up that aren’t expected)
Or, if you have a skill like graphic design, offer to help with the various event invites. If it’s photography maybe you could take an image for the Save the Date card, or if you love flowers you could offer to arrange the bouquets.
Basically, wrack your brain to think of something you can do to help her and support her throughout the wedding planning process and on the wedding day. It may be a hard conversation to have and she may not like you after you tell her where you’re at but it’s better to do that and be up-front then to back out after she’s already pictured you standing up there with her.
Another thing to do is to try to be a part of the bridesmaid dress selection process from the very beginning. This means keeping the bride’s Wedding Day vision in-tact but also helping to steer the girls into the less expensive dress options rather than the “it costs WHAT?!!!” territory. And, you get bonus points if the bride picks an inexpensive and cute dress that you can actually really wear again, like, for real wear again, and not pretend “Oh, YEAHHH, I’ll definitely wear it again!”
In the end, an honest look at your financial situation and a long talk with your friend just might be the perfect solution to the high-priced Bridesmaid Blues.
Have you ever been asked to be a bridesmaid and knew you couldn’t afford it? How did you handle it? Do you have any tips for those who are struggling with this?