You hear a lot about wedding budgets, but very little about bridesmaid budgets—so we called upon our friends Hadley Miller and Allison Haber of Beyond Bridesmaids to break down the dollars and cents of what standing next to your friend on her big day really requires. “Unfortunately for us bridesmaids, we are at the mercy of our sweet bride and even if they have been bridesmaids many times before, concern about our bank account is not at the forefront of their minds,” says Miller. “The bottom line is it’s going to cost some dough and time! Think about it—a bridesmaid dress, matching shoes, hair, makeup, the bachelorette party, the bridal shower, the bridesmaid shower, presents for any and all parties, oh, and the wedding—travel, room and board, gifts and more. On top of the literal cash draining out of your bank account, any free time you may have is gone. It takes a lot of throw a killer bachelorette party or bridal shower.”
“Quite frankly, being a bridesmaid is a part time gig, with no pay,” adds Haber. “It’s a lot! We knew a ‘just out of college bride’ that asked her gals to pay $350 for a cotton candy pink ditty. As a poor, unemployed graduate, mom and dad were none too thrilled when they asked to borrow that cash.”
For most, being a bridesmaid tallies up to more than $1,500—all in. However, if you are dealing with a destination wedding (albeit one that’s international) or diva brides, that number can triple. Here, they outline the expenditures, so no matter what, you’re at least going in with your eyes open.
The Look: $400-$500
On average, a bridesmaids dress can cost upwards of $300, including the always necessary alterations. If your bride is particular about your shoes, which in our experience is thankfully becoming less of a thing, look to add another $100. For the finishing touches like hair and makeup, expect to add around another $100.
If you are travelling well out of your time zone, this number can change quickly! You have the flight or the cost of gas to pay for, the hotel room, and then maybe a rental car or ubers. In some cases, you have to travel for the bachelorette party and the wedding—so keep that in mind, when thinking about your budget.
Gifts & Showers: $500
First you need to have gifts for all of the parties you attend. But don’t forget, as a bridesmaid, you will probably have to throw one as well. Whether you actually host at your home, send the invites, or simply cut the check, you are looking at $100-$150 at the very least to celebrate in style.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts. “The best advice we can give is to budget and manage expectations with your bride ahead of time,” says Miller. “In most cases, you have 6-12 months to plan, so start penny pinching from the moment you get the “Will you be my bridesmaid?” call or carrier pigeon. In our experience, it will all be worth it. Your best friend is getting married after all! Save your cash, put on your lipstick and grab a drink . . . it’s time to party!”