Bridesmaids 101: The Ultimate Budget Guide

by Danielle Salazar October 22, 2015

Congratulations! You’re a bridesmaid! Get ready for some major girl-bonding time, epic party planning, crafting, and just a whole lot of fun overall! There are a ton of great perks that come with being a ‘maid, but it’s not all fun and games. You occasional will have to play therapist for the bride, you might not see eye-to-eye with another bridesmaid while planning the bachelorette, and you may be tasked to do things that you’re not so keen on doing. But overall, those are easy things to get past and as part of your bridesmaid duties, you should graciously do them with that beautiful smile of yours.

However, there is one slightly minor and kinda huge downfall to being a bridesmaid: the money. Don’t get me wrong! In the end, it’s totally worth it, but being aware of the financial strain that being a bridesmaid could cause (especially if you aren’t financially ready for it!) is definitely a good thing to know! That being said, before you 100% commit yourself to standing beside your friend at the alter, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Bridesmaids 101: The Ultimate Budget Guide

The Bridesmaid Guide to Budgeting

Dress & Alterations

What’s Involved: Your bridesmaid dress and any necessary alterations. A hem, strap adjustment, and side-seam adjustment are common alterations for a bridesmaid dress.

Who Pays: Usually the bridesmaid is on her own for this one. If the bride chooses a dress that she wants all the ‘maids to wear and it’s a bit out of budget, they’ll often pitch in, but I wouldn’t rely on that.

Cost: $150-$300. You can get a great dress for around $150-$200, but expect to pay anywhere from $20-$100 for alterations.

Ways to Save: Ask around and try to find a seamstress who is super affordable. If you have one in the family or a friend of a friend, even better! As far as dresses go, watch out for deals, but don’t put off ordering just so you can save $10-15. You might end up not even being able to get a dress in time!

Accessories & Shoes

What’s Involved: Jewelry, undergarments, shoes, and a clutch.

Who Pays: The bridesmaid usually buys her own accessories, but if the bride is asking for something specific (e.g. a certain necklace or pair of shoes), she’ll often buy that as their gift.

Cost: $20-$150.

Ways to Save: If you have some freedom with accessories or shoes, try to use things that you already have! Otherwise, shop sales or stores like Nordstrom Rack that offer great deals!

Bridal Shower

What’s Involved: Any split costs for the venue rental, food, drinks, and a gift.

Who Pays: It depends. A bridal shower is often hosted by the MOH or family member of the bride, but more often than not, the bridesmaids are asked to pitch in. Regardless of who pays for the event, you should always bring a gift, though.

Cost: $30-$150. Depending on who’s footing the majority of the expenses, expect to pay at minimum for a gift and much more if all the expenses are being split evenly.

Ways to Save: Ask to be involved with the planning. The more you’re involved, the more say you’ll have in the budget and can find cheaper options for venues, food, etc. The best option? Host the event in someone’s home and cater the event yourselves!

Bachelorette Party

What’s Involved: Drinks, food, transportation (cabs or Uber), overnight accommodations, any other day events, airfare, an outfit, and decorations.

Who Pays: The bridesmaids should cover the entire event. The only thing the bride should pay for is airfare if it’s a weekend getaway.

Cost: $75-$400+. At minimum, all you’ll need to pay for is a night of dinner and drinks. If there’s airfare and hotels involved, expect to pay $400-$1000.

Ways to Save: Try to stay closer to home. I guarantee you can have just as much fun without going to Vegas or Miami! Otherwise, shop for flights on Tuesdays. That’s when tickets are always the cheapest.

Hair & Makeup

What’s Involved: Hair and makeup for the wedding day.

Who Pays: It depends. Sometimes brides will cover the costs of hair and makeup for her girls, but more often than not, the bridesmaids pay for their own.

Cost: $50-$150. Each service usually costs about $50-$75.

Ways to Save: I would always recommend having your hair professionally done, but if you’re really good at makeup, you can do your own and possibly even a few other ‘maids in the group!

Wedding Gift(s)

What’s Involved: A wedding gift for the couple.

Who Pays: You do.

Cost: $30-$150. The cost of gifts varies a ton, with the average family member/friend spending about $80 on a gift.

Ways to Save: Find a price point that you’re comfortable with and stick with that. It also might be a good idea to go in on a gift with another bridesmaid and/or friend!

Traveling to the Wedding

What’s Involved: Gas money or flight to get to the wedding location.

Who Pays: You do.

Cost: $5-$400. If you’re driving, it could be so minimal where you don’t notice any cost at all, but if you need to fly, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.

Ways to Save: If you’re driving, find a travel partner so you can split the gas costs. If flying, shop around on travel websites for good deals on flights!

Wedding Day Accommodations

What’s Involved: Hotel stay or lodging.

Who Pays: You do.

Cost: $100-$200/night.

Ways to Save: Find someone or a small group to share a room with so the individual costs will be cut down significantly.

Bridesmaid Budget Tips

Surprisingly or not, the average cost to be a bridesmaid is around $1600. Can you believe that!? $1600! Not to mention all the work you have to put in as part of your bridesmaid duties. Luckily, the costs all happen over a matter of months so it’s not like you’re forking it over all at once. But, since we all like to save money, here are some of my tips for a bridesmaid on a budget:

5 important bridesmaid budget tips | Bridesmaids 101: The Ultimate Budget Guide

  1. Shop sales. Black Friday is coming up, so it might be the perfect opportunity to get your bridesmaid dress at a great discount! Also keep an eye out for flight deals on travel websites, hotel discounts on Groupon, and check the end-caps at Target for some great clearance party decor!
  2. Use your own resources and connections. Do you have a friend who’s really great at cooking? Ask him/her to cater the bridal shower or bachelorette. If you have a family friend who’s good at sewing, have her inspect your dress to see if the alterations are something she could manage. If you have the ability to pick your own shoes or jewelry for the big day, shop your own closet or borrow something from a friend with good style! Are you good at makeup? Do your own!
  3. DIY Gifts. Between the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette, and actual wedding day, there are a lot of gifts involved! Search around on Pinterest for some cute DIY gifts that your bride will adore.
  4. Make a budget and stick to it. When you’re planning events like the bridal shower or bachelorette, it’s SO easy to spend a lot of money. During the planning process, make a budget that everyone is comfortable with and stick to it. If you insist on doing something that may cost more and the other ‘maids aren’t quite on board, offer to pay the difference yourself.
  5. Split costs. Whether it’s the bridal shower, hotel, a car ride, or a wedding present, splitting the costs will always make your overall spend just that much less.

Let's Chat! What money saving tips do you have for bridesmaids? Let us know in the comments below so we can help saving girls more money! Let's keep the savings coming, ladies!

More Blogs You'll Love:

11 Tips on How to Choose Bridesmaid Dresses   7 Important Bridesmaid Duties   8 Bonding Activities for Bridesmaids

Danielle Salazar
Danielle Salazar


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Measurement Guide

Taking Your Measurements

For the most accurate measurements, do not measure over your clothing. Your measurements should be taken while wearing undergarments similar to the ones you will wear with your dress. The measuring tape shouldn't be pulled too tight or have too much slack, and should always be parallel with the floor. 

**Wedding apparel is typically sized differently than retail clothing, so keep in mind that it's not uncommon to find yourself requiring alterations.

Bust size: Wrap the tape around your back and under your arms at the fullest part of your bust (not underneath the bust).

Waist size:  While standing up straight, bend at the waist to one side. Take the measurement where the natural crease happens in your side. This should be a few inches above your belly button.

Hip size: Standing with your feet together, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your hips and butt to get this measurement.

Choosing your correct size

Compare  these three measurements to the Kennedy Blue size chart above. It is very important that you order the largest size that corresponds to your measurements. For example, if your bust measures 40.5" (size 12), your waist measures 31" (size 10) and your hips measure 41.5" (size 8), we advise that you order a size 12, and get your dress altered down to custom fit your body. Ordering anything smaller than a size 12 would not fit in the bust area. Please note: Our bridal gown size chart is different than the bridesmaids sizing and is listed below.