You’ve been asked to be in a wedding. How exciting! But wait—before you accept, there are a few things to consider. While it’s an incredible honor to be in a friend or loved one’s wedding, the cost of being a bridesmaid is more than you think. There are plenty of hidden monetary expenses as well as the time and emotional energy that goes into being a bridesmaid.
For some people, the commitment is more than they can realistically afford. If you absolutely can’t make it work, it’s totally okay to say you’d rather be a guest or prefer to participate in a less expensive role. If you want to make it happen, though, go into the experience armed with the right attitude and follow these tips!
You might think the bridesmaid dress is the most expensive part of being in a friend’s wedding. Turns out it’s just a small percentage of the wedding expenses associated with bridesmaid duties. Wedding Wire estimates that the average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1200 for each wedding. Yikes!
It’s worth noting, though, that the cost of being a bridesmaid—like the cost of living—varies by region. Bridesmaids on the west coast pay an average of $1360 per wedding, whereas Midwest ‘maids have it cheapest at $1100. Shoutout to our local Minnesota ‘maids!
No matter where the wedding is being held, or how much travel is involved, you'll be glad you researched the cost of being a bridesmaid before committing to such an important role. So now that we know the average cost of participating in a wedding, let's break it down!
Okay, so what are all these extra costs associated with bridesmaid duties? Here’s a breakdown.
While these expenses vary by wedding, it’s easy to see how bridesmaid duties can be quite expensive. Start saving early for the cost of being a bridesmaid so you’re not struck by all the expenses at once! Some young women even set aside a certain portion of their monthly savings for wedding expenses. After all, it’s likely they’ll be asked to participate in or attend a significant number of weddings in their 20s.
Based on the estimates above, it’s easy to see how the cost of being a bridesmaid can vary widely—it all depends on the bride. Buzzfeed interviewed seven bridesmaids to find out how much their wedding expenses were. One bridesmaid managed to only spend $310 because her dress only cost $40, the wedding was in-town, and the bride paid for her ‘maids hair. Another bride, however, had to cough up a steep $3,000 for cross-country travel, party expenses, the dress, and more.
When a friend asks you to be in her wedding, talk about her expectations for the bridesmaid duties. Does she want a destination bachelorette party? Is her heart set on a $300 bridesmaid dress? Will she or her parents help defer the cost of certain bridesmaid expenses? While it may seem awkward, having this conversation early on will help you avoid unpleasant (or downright unaffordable!) surprises later. Besides, if you’re good friends, she’ll understand. Being transparent about your financial situation may also help her realize the importance of helping her bridesmaids save money.
Even if you agree to be a bridesmaid right away, it’s okay to talk about budget later when picking out bridesmaid dresses and determining other expenses. Ask the bride what she wants in a bridesmaid dress, then offer to do the preliminary search. She’ll likely be grateful to have one less thing to research, and you can find a budget friendly option that suits everyone. All Kennedy Blue dresses are under $150, so browse the full collection of bridesmaid dresses or check out this post highlighting 27 great options under $150!
Okay, so you’ve crunched the numbers and are prepared for the financial cost of being a bridesmaid. Great! It’s also important to be prepared for the mental “expenses” as well. Fulfilling your bridesmaid duties requires a lot of time and planning. You’ll need to be emotionally invested in helping the bride achieve her vision of the big day throughout the planning period. Bridesmaids should help diffuse the stress of preparation and make it as easy as possible for the bride to make decisions. It’s also your job as an attendant to be patient when (yes, when) the bride has a freak out. Or two. Or three. It’s all part of the experience, trust us.
Yes, it’s expensive to be in a wedding. Consider in comparison how much more the couple are spending on the wedding. This is to be expected—it’s their wedding, not yours, after all—but it can make you feel better about the cost of being a bridesmaid. You obviously care a lot about the couple and are most likely willing to spend a bit to take part in their big day. Take a deep breath, do the math, and get budgeting.
Sometimes, no matter how much you want to make it work, it just isn’t feasible. Nobody wants to let their friend down, but you can’t argue with math if the budget just doesn’t add up.
If you know you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid but still want to support the bride on her big day, ask to take on a different role. There are plenty of wedding roles beyond the wedding party with a much lower financial commitment. Offer to be a passage reader, a program attendant, or even a personal attendant. The personal attendant fulfills a similar role to the bridesmaid, but primarily on the day-of. She gets to spend time with the bride on the big day, helping her get ready and making sure everything is organized, but doesn’t need a matching dress. It’s a great way to still be closely involved without becoming too financially involved!
Knowing what to expect financially is an important part of being a bridesmaid. If you’re in a pinch money-wise, being asked to spend a lot to be in a friend’s wedding can quickly breed resentment. Yikes! That’s not how you want to remember the experience. If you’re aware of the cost of being a bridesmaid at the time you’re asked, though, the whole process will be a lot smoother and more enjoyable.
Weddings are expensive, but they’re also SO fun and memorable! You’ll make incredible memories being a part of your friend’s big day. You’ll also probably meet some awesome new friends through the planning stages and hanging out with the rest of the bridal party. At the end of the day, the couple will be SO thankful that you were a part of their big day—and that’s priceless.
How much have you had to spend to be a bridesmaid? What was one thoughtful way the couple helped you save money? Let us know!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
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.
Wrap the tape around your back and under your arms at the fullest part of your bust (not underneath the bust).
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. Stand up straight and do not “suck in” when taking this measurment.
Standing with your feet together, wrap the tape around the fullest part of your hips and butt to get this measurement.
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.
Depending on the fabric, a dress can be altered down up to 2 full sizes, but can be very difficult to let out as there is only about .5 inch of fabric to do so at the seams.