How Average Are Your Bridesmaids?

Americans tend to have a fascination with the average. We keep seeking out the information that will tell us whether or not we fall in the ‘normal’ range of nearly everything. Weddings, of course, are no exception.

So when I ran across a fun and informative infographic on averages concerning bridesmaids over on, I had to take a closer look and share the contents with all of you.

Seems I got a couple of things in the average range when I got married. Five bridesmaids is apparently the average, and that’s exactly what I had. Oh, that includes the junior bridesmaid who, at twelve, slotted nicely into the national average of being aged nine to fourteen. I had a matron rather than maid of honor, though, unlike some 97% of brides.

I’m not sure where to put myself in the question of the 64% of brides who have their maids wear identical outfits. See, they all wore the same skirt and blouse made from the same patterns and the same fabric… but then I asked them to trim and accessorize according to personal whim rather than a specific blueprint. So there were trims ranging from pink pearl piping to a grand fall of lace over the bosom to an added Batterburg lace collar with little blue ribbon roses, an equally broad range of jewelry styles, and flat shoes that ran the gamut from ballet flats to low, slouchy boots. So they all started in the same place with the same stuff, but they weren’t identical when they got done.

As for travel, well, prices have gone way up, but I’m betting that travel to the wedding did wind up averaging close to the $300 in the infographic, because while I had two bridesmaids living in the same town with me and my junior bridesmaid lived about an hour’s drive away… I did have two bridesmaids who lived on the opposite coast from mine and who brought their husbands with them. Hey, one of them was also in the wedding party.

But just as I have to adjust for nearly twenty years, hence changes over time in both prices and custom (the bachelorette party was a pretty rare beast when I was getting married), it’s important to remember geography and culture when looking at the numbers in the infographic. With the cost of the average wedding in New York City hovering close to seventy grand, you can assume that bridesmaids will also probably wind up spending more there than, say, in Yuma, AZ. And it’s always important to keep in mind that when these averages are calculated, there are always plenty of outliers whose wedding costs were either astonishingly huge or amazingly tiny. Averages tell us about everyone and nobody in particular.

So when you choose the dress your bridesmaids will wear, remember that while the average bridesmaid today spends $150 on a dress, $50 on alterations for that dress, $50 for lingerie, $60 for jewelry, and $100 for hair and make up… it’s best to talk frankly with your proposed attendants about their specific budgets before assuming they’ll shell out $410 to look good in your wedding album. I’m just saying. And seriously, I did not ever consider for one moment making my bridesmaids get new undies for my wedding. I figured what they wore under those outfits was between them and their gods, and therefore very firmly Not My Business.

As for the price tags of the gifts the bridesmaids give you for your engagement and wedding… it’s really best not to think too hard about that. They’re already giving you support, possibly DIY as well as emotional, and they’re letting you tell them what to wear. If they choose to give more, that’s a lovely gesture, whether it’s a potato peeler or that big screen TV you’ve been hankering after.

In short, there are averages in the world of bridesmaids, and you may or may not hit some of them firmly on the head. But your bridesmaids are individual people, your relationships with them will be unique, and anyway, why would you want to aim for average? Aim for what will make you – and hopefully your bridesmaids, too – happy.

3 Responses to “How Average Are Your Bridesmaids?”

  1. Jo says:

    I’m from the UK, and had a single bridesmaid (technically I suppose she was a matron of honour!). But the tradition (as I know it) here is that the bride buys the dress for the bridesmaid – in fact, we discussed what she would wear and she input into the choice! We did economise on her outfit by using existing undies, shoes, and she used her jewellery from her own wedding. But that meant I could also pay for her hair and make-up…

    I feel uber-generous now 🙂

  2. Twistie says:

    Helping pay for the bridesmaid’s dress is a UK tradition, but it’s an extreme rarity here in the States.

    All three times I was a bridesmaid, I did have to shell out for specific shoes (though in one case it was whatever black pumps with 2″ heels I liked and could afford), but not once was my underwear discussed. I could see someone having to get a strapless bra to go with a strapless dress, but in general I believe a bridesmaid’s underwear is between her and her dress, and nobody else’s business unless she chooses to make it their business.

  3. SarahDances says:

    I’m the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding in November. We all got to pick our own style from the same manufacturer (incidentally, I believe it is the same as the dresses in the picture at the top of your post), and she is asking us to wear black heels, since she figures we all already own a pair. No talk of accessories yet, but so far looking really reasonable.