How to Be a Bridesmaid Without Going Broke!

Tips from three wedding pros on how to rock your bridesmaid duties without breaking the bank.

How to Be a Bridesmaid Without Going Broke!

Tips from three wedding pros on how to rock your bridesmaid duties without breaking the bank.

-Heather Taylor

bridal party



This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

Something old, something new, something borrowed and … some more things borrowed too? During the upcoming wedding season, we know that you bridesmaids on a budget will be looking to cut corners on your wedding expenses as much as possible. There’s the dress, the bridal shower, the bachelorette party (VEGAS!), the wedding registry, and so much more that all adds up to many pretty pennies. Don’t let all of the bridezilla craziness take over before the ceremony starts — let us guide you down your road to the big day with these tips on how to think outside of the box when it comes to cost without shirking your responsibilities — and still enjoying taking part in such a special event!

1. Rent the Dress

The biggest bridal expense? You guessed it, it’s the dress. Sharon Naylor, author of Bridesmaid on a Budget, says, “According to TheWeddingReport.com, bridesmaids spend over $1,000 on all of their responsibilities … the biggest expense is their dress, averaging at $182.”

Of course, that’s just the average — and doesn’t take in to account alterations — it can all add up to several hundred dollars. Multiply that x3 for additional spring/summer weddings… yikes! Justine Schwartz, associate editor of BRIDEfinds.com suggests visiting sites like Rent the Runway or Little Borrowed Dress instead of buying a dress. Rent the Runway  carries a wide selection of designer dresses for all bridal occasions by designers like Badgley Mischka and Nicole Miller to rent at a fraction of the price. Also, try Something Borrowed NY for your pretty hair accessories.

Of course, this only works if the whole bridal party isn’t wearing the same dress, or they all agree to go rental. “This can be hard when the other bridesmaids have more money than you do, but if you have the courage to speak up there’s another bridesmaid out there who will love you for taking charge and saying, let’s look some more,” Naylor says.

And if you need backup, be direct with your bride. Real Weddings editor Shira Savada at Martha Stewart Weddings encourages brides to not only pick a style that everyone will love to wear but one that satisfies most budgets.

2. Skip Vegas for an Outside of the Box Bachelorette Party

Who doesn’t remember that scene in the movie Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig’s embarrassing hijinks 20,000 feet up in the air en route to Las Vegas? No bride wants to have her party escorted off the plane before they make it to their destination. Skip a flight expense for something closer and more local that all of your friends can attend.

Justine suggests taking a tour of a local perfumer in your city and having them create a signature scent for the bride.

Sharon loves the idea of holding a fabulous spa party (especially if you have an incredible hot tub on hand!) with a massage therapist brought in for a few hours and a gourmet dinner for the ladies with a personal chef a la The Real Housewives.

Consider combining the bachelorette party with the bridal shower too. “If the bride is dead-set on getting on a plane, consider killing two birds with one stone and throwing the bachelorette party and shower over the same weekend. Not only will this cut back on expenses, but it will really streamline the planning process.” Shira says.

3. Make the Gifts Special, not Spendy

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your shower or wedding presents. For the shower, take this moment to buy or make a heartfelt, creative gift instead — a photo book filled with your best memories of your BFF for a shower gift; a picture frame with your favorite love poem inside for the happy couple.

Shira suggests taking the time to think of a gift outside of the box – a passport case in her favorite color for her honeymoon and “experience” gifts like a delicious dinner with her fiancé that can be found on Groupon or Living Social.

You can also go in on a great present with another friend of the bride and groom: Justine’s fun gift ideas for under $50 include Sephora’s Beauty and the Bride box.

Finally, If you really can’t afford to go … Speak Up!

No bridesmaid wants to skip out on attending the wedding of those near and dear to them but sometimes financial circumstances simply can’t allow for attendance to all of th events. Be polite in declining, using the wording that Sharon suggests: “It breaks my heart, but I truly cannot afford to be a bridesmaid for anyone right now…and I’d never want to be the reason you don’t get the bridal shower, or bachelorette party, you deserve. You’re so important to me, and I just couldn’t stand it if my money issues caused you or any of your bridesmaids any drama or disappointment. I wish it were different, but I just can’t afford it. If I can help with anything, though, I’ll be very happy to.”

Tissues please! The bride will be understanding of the situation and supportive of making you comfortable.

Heather Taylor is BettyConfidential’s LA correspondent. This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.


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  1. As you start to put the pieces together, or string the words together, the full picture becomes clearer.

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