For some, being asked to serve as a bridesmaid is both an honor and a burden. Time spent assembling complicated wedding invitations or funneling candy into favor boxes is one thing; money spent is quite another. I’d wager that most of you reading this would be happy to accompany a friend as she shops for her wedding gown or samples wedding cake. Would you be as pleased if you found out this same friend expected you to pay $600 for bridesmaid attire? Or if she made it clear that her idea of the perfect bachelorette party is a week in Cancun paid for by her attendants?
It’s not uncommon for bridesmaids or a maid-of-honor to accept a wedding party post without knowing what they’re getting into. That’s why there are books like Everything Bridesmaid: From Planning the Shower to Supporting the Bride, All You Need to Survive and Enjoy the Wedding and The Bridesmaid Handbook and The Bridesmaid Guide: Etiquette, Parties and Being Fabulous and even The Quintessential Wedding Guide … Maid of Honor.
In other words, while first-time maids and MOHs may not know quite what’s expected of them, there are plenty of how-tos out there ready to help. Get your dress on time, they say. Throw a bridal shower. Bustle the gown. Herd the groomsmen. Hold the bride’s bouquet. Give a speech. And so on.
But perhaps the most important to-do on the bridesmaid’s checklist should be “Consider your budget.” Brides (and grooms) put together a wedding budget, so why shouldn’t attendants put together bridesmaid budgets (and groomsman budgets)? Being part of a wedding can be expensive, depending on the wedding. It needn’t be complicated — simply ask yourself how much you expect to spend based on certain criteria.
Does the bride have upper-crust taste in clothing that could translate in your bring asked to spring for an expensive dress you’ll never wear again? In the case of a destination wedding, will you have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for airfare and accommodations in addition to your wedding day finery. Will you have to pay to have your hair styles and makeup professionally done? Are there pre-wedding events planned that will require some outlay of cash? Then it’s time to ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend or can spend — be realistic, don’t be swayed by guilt or what you think everyone else can spend — and, finally, if you’re up for it, straight up ask the bride how much she expects her bridesmaids to lay out.
This is important, considering that the second most chosen response on a Savvy Sugar poll asking What’s the Most You Have Spent as a Bridesmaid? (right after “I’ve never been a bridesmaid.”) was “Well over $1,000.” You read that right, 17% of respondents have spent more than a grand preparing for and participating in someone else’s wedding. For those whose eyes are bugging out, I’ll add the the third and fourth most chosen responses were “Between $100 and $300.” and “Between $300 and $500.”
I’m lucky in that I’ve never been asked to do much as a bridesmaid or maid-of-honor other than buy a suitable dress in such-and-such a color since more often than not I’ve had to travel to participate in the weddings of faraway friends. I wouldn’t have minded, though, having to spend some money (maaaaybe up to $500?) and much more time helping the brides prepare for the big day. But thousand bucks? I think I would have had to gracefully decline unless it was a sister or my mother or someone equally important. What do you think?