True love is beautiful, and a wedding is a huge celebration and wonderful event where a couple promises their love and commitment in front of family and friends — it can also very be stressful and expensive.
Wedding season is upon us and if you were asked to be a bridesmaid, you know it’s an honor as well as an expense. From the bachelorette party to wedding events and the bridesmaid dress, the costs of being in a bridal party can add up quickly.
So how much does it cost to be a bridesmaid? Keep reading to find out.
What does it cost to be a bridesmaid?
Your bestie just got engaged and asked you to be a bridesmaid. You start crying and say “yes” because she’s your BFF and it’s such an honor, but then you think about your budget, inflation, and all your bills. Can you afford to be a bridesmaid?
You can’t back out, so you need to find a way to budget because bridesmaid duties aren't cheap. From the bachelorette party to the dress, wedding gifts, transportation, and accommodations, the costs will add up quickly.
According to a 2017 study by WeddingWire, bridesmaids spend between $1,200 and $1,800 per wedding, and with today’s inflation that range increases from $1,478 to $2,218. And while the total amount you spend depends on factors like where you live, the bachelorette party location, and the dress designer, the spiraling costs have caused bridal party members to overspend and put themselves further into debt.
What are the typical expenses associated with being a bridesmaid?
Even though each wedding is different, there are some costs that you should almost always expect to cover when you’re a bridesmaid. Here are the most common expenses for bridesmaids.
Bridesmaid dress and accessories: Yes, the bridesmaid usually pays for her own dress. According to The Knot, the average price of a bridesmaid dress is $130. Of course, what you pay varies by designer, style, and location.
Alterations may cost you an extra $30 to over $100 depending on the changes you make.
You may also need accessories like jewelry, shoes, and a clutch. You may need a strapless bra, tights, and seamless underwear.
Hair and makeup: Hair and makeup are typically paid for by the bridesmaid. According to The Knot, in 2022 the average cost of wedding makeup was around $120 and wedding hair was $130. Hair stylists and makeup artists bill hourly so the larger the wedding party, the more you may spend.
If a bride has it in her budget, she may pay for hair and makeup or split the bill.
Bridal shower: Sometimes costs of the bridal shower gets split between bridesmaids.
Shower gift: Traditional etiquette says you need to buy a bridal shower gift, or you could opt for a group gift with other bridesmaids.
Bachelorette party: Bridesmaids typically plan and pay for the bachelorette party, but this depends on the group. You may cover the bride's flight, split the hotel and cover nightlife, or pay for her entire trip.
You’ll also have to pay for your travel, lodging and activities.
Wedding day travel and hotel: While the bride and her family are responsible for coordinating and covering wedding day transportation, sometimes bridesmaids may need to cover their own.
And while the bride may set up hotel room blocks for less; the wedding party normally pays for their own lodging.
Wedding gift: Despite all the money you’ll be spending, you’re still expected to give the bride a gift. You can pick something on the registry, or pool funds with others to purchase a group gift.
Theme attire: If a bride has a wedding theme, you'll be expected to buy an outfit that reflects the theme.
What if I can’t afford to be a bridesmaid?
Many bridal party guests have gone into credit card debt trying to keep up with wedding costs and events as they felt extra pressure to spend more than they could afford.
According to LendingTree, nearly four out of 10 bridal party members say they regretted how much they spent. The wedding expenses ultimately hurt their relationship with the bride or another bridal party member.
So, what should you do if you can’t afford all the costs of being a bridesmaid?
Use travel rewards cards for flights and hotels: If you get a travel rewards credit card, you can use the sign-up bonus to help extend your budget and maybe even get a free flight or hotel room.
Get a 0 percent balance transfer card: If you go into debt for the wedding, consider signing up for a new credit card with a 0 percent balance transfer to pay it off.
Start saving now: Since most couples wait about a year after engagement to get married, you'll have time to put money aside and prepare for the costs.
Discuss your budget with the bride or groom: While you may feel cheap or awkward, it'll help them understand where you’re coming from and help you manage your finances.
Discuss your budget with the bridal party: Even if the bride or groom can't help you out, see if you can reduce expenses with other bridesmaids by sharing a room, splitting costs and dividing expenses.