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How Much Does it Really Cost to be a Bridesmaid?

Real Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

So, your bestie asked you to be in her wedding? We know you’re excited, but don’t forget you may need to create a budget for the costs of being a bridesmaid. We’ll help you break down the average prices and plan for any unanticipated details. 

Average Cost of Being a Bridesmaid: (Way) More Than Just a Dress

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. WeddingWire estimates that the average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1200 for each wedding -- and that’s from a study done a few years ago, so the number is likely higher now.

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. No matter where the wedding is being held, 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!

Pre-Wedding Events Bridesmaid Costs: Bridal Shower to Bachelorette Party

Bridesmaids Pajamas

Bridesmaids are expected to throw the bride several different pre-wedding parties. That often means buying treats for the engagement party, party favors for the bridal shower, funny decorations for the bachelorette party, and more. Be sure to understand which events you’ll need to contribute to and what kind of budget you should expect.

1) Average Cost of Bridal Shower for Bridesmaids: Who Pays for the Bridal Shower?

Bridesmaids are not expected to contribute to the bridal shower unless they offer to host. A bridal shower is typically hosted by a close family member or friend of the bride. If you choose to help plan the bridal shower, you could contribute financially, offer to help set up, or help with other tasks. Keep in mind, bridesmaids are expected to give a gift at the bridal shower if they don’t host.

Fog Blue Bridesmaid Dresses

Fog Blue Bridesmaid Dresses

2) Average Cost of Bachelorette Party: Who Pays for the Bachelorette Party?

Brace yourself for a terrifying statistic: According to the Knot, about a third of bachelorette party-goers spend over $1000 on the event. One reason for the big price is that many brides are opting for destination bachelorette parties. A night out is one thing, but a weekend away is another and can quickly break the bank if you haven’t prepared for the expense. Even if you opt to throw a local party, you’ll still need to budget for making all your bachelorette party ideas come to life with decor, games, food, and drinks.

Dress, Shoes, Accessories, & Alterations: Bridesmaid Outfit Expenses to Expect

Olive Green Bridesmaids Dresses

Olive Green Bridesmaid Dresses

Your main role as a bridesmaid is to stand by your friend as she says her vows. All eyes will be on the bride, groom, and the wedding party--including you. Make sure you look the part with all the clothing and accessories the bride needs you to buy.

1) Average Bridesmaid Dress Cost

The average bridesmaid dress costs $130-$150 depending on the region, according to a study from the Knot. Finding affordable bridesmaid dresses is easier than ever with so many online options. Just make sure you get your dress altered to fit you correctly. 

Bride and Bridesmaid

Bailey Bridesmaid Dress in Fog Blue

2) Alteration Prices for Bridesmaid Dresses

Unless you order a custom-made dress, nearly all bridesmaids will have to get their dresses altered in some way—shortened, taken in, straps added, etc. Consider the alteration costs as you compare dresses. Bridesmaid dress alterations often cost from $30-100 depending on how extensive they are. 

3) Bridesmaid Accessories: Shoes, Nails, etc.

The bride may want you to purchase matching accessories to go with your dress. Most often the bride wants the bridesmaids to buy matching shoes. She may also expect you to pay for other additions to your dress like getting your nails done, a specific hair piece, matching bridesmaid robes, or a piece of jewelry.

Bridesmaid Robes

Ruffle Bridesmaid Robes in Dusty Blue

Wedding Day Bridesmaid Costs

You’ve got your dress, thrown the bridal shower, and helped the bride with wedding planning -- now it’s time for the big day. Some of the most important parts of bridesmaid budgeting involve the actual wedding weekend. Consider the following important bridesmaid costs:

1) Wedding Travel Costs for Attendees

If you’re lucky, the wedding is close to where you live. For many, however, attending a wedding involves travel. This can be as cheap as a tank of gas or as expensive as a flight around the world. 

Destination Wedding Bridesmaid Dress

Betsy Bridesmaid Dress in Fog Blue

2) Bridesmaid Makeup Cost & Bridesmaid Hair Cost

Some brides will want the bridal party to get their hair, makeup, and nails done together for the wedding. Make sure you talk to the bride about the budget for these services and if she expects you to pay for them so you can be prepared. 

3) Hotels & Accommodation

Even if you live in town, most brides want their bridesmaids near them the night before the wedding. This means that most bridesmaids will have to pay for 1-2 nights in a hotel. Expect to pay more if the wedding is in a big city, on a holiday weekend, or in a tourist destination.

Satin Bridesmaid Dresses

Satin Bridesmaid Dresses in Sea Foam

4) How Much Should a Bridesmaid Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Despite the high cost of being a bridesmaid, you’re still expected to give the couple a wedding gift. You are not, however, obligated to buy the most expensive gift on the registry. If you’re running low on funds after every other bridesmaid cost, consider buying a smaller item from the registry or chipping in for something bigger with the other bridesmaids. 

Discuss the Bride’s Expectations for Bridesmaid Duties

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 bridesmaids’ hair. Another bridesmaid, however, had to cough up a steep $3,000 for cross-country travel, party expenses, the dress, and more. 

Bridesmaid Duties and Expectations

French Lilac Bridesmaid Dresses

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.

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 you won’t run into any scary surprises as you browse our full collection of bridesmaid dresses.

Light Blue Bridesmaid Dresses

Sea Glass Bridesmaid Dresses

The Mental “Expenses” of Being a Bridesmaid

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.

Pink Bridesmaid Dress

Consider the Couple’s Wedding Expenses

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.

Neutral Bridesmaid Dresses

If You Can’t Afford the Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

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. 

Bridesmaids Hugging

Peach Bridesmaid Dresses | Spice Bridesmaid Dresses

Offer to be an usher, the officiant (if you’re good at public speaking), or the personal attendant. The role of a personal attendant is similar to a 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!

Be Ready for the Big Day by Accounting For Bridesmaid Costs

While prices 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! Weddings are expensive, but they’re also super fun and memorable. Plus, at the end of the day, the couple will be thankful that you were a part of their big day—and that’s priceless.

Still not sure about what you’re responsible for as a bridesmaid? We created a handy bridesmaid duties checklist.

Bridesmaid Responsibilities

Bridesmaid & Maid of Honor Responsibilities + Events

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Leave a comment

July 19, 2018 11:44

It could be way more if you went with a different coolmpany other than Kennedy Blue. I love that the dresses are affordable, available in many sizes, styles, and colors. Perfect company for brides!

Danesha Hayes
June 22, 2018 09:04

Can someone give advice on how much I should let my bridesmaids know they will be out of one of my very good friends I have know for 16 years since we were 12 is completely fiancially stable but I would be Burt if she wasn’t in my wedding.

Whitney L
June 18, 2018 17:32

Kennedy Blue dresses are beautiful and so well priced! Definitely help make it easier on bridesmaids!!

Lula Clark
June 18, 2018 17:32

Being a bridesmaid can be expensive, yet despite the price it is totally worth it!

June 18, 2018 17:32

I had no clue how much it cost for my bridesmaids with my wedding. I had never been a bridesmaid before. Now being a bridesmaid, I’m looking at every way possible to do things inexpensively.

June 14, 2018 20:48

Being a bridesmaid is such a special time between friends!

Fiona L.
June 13, 2018 12:28

What a great article. As I have a small bridal party, I really want to keep cost at a minimum. Both my bridesmaid and MOH can’t really afford to splurge and I respect that. So this is a great article to help keep me in check in regards to expectations!

Sarah Beutel
June 12, 2018 12:54

This was a big concern for me when I planned my wedding. I tried to include as much “necessity” items my bridesmaids would need to buy in my budget. But, at the end of the day, if you accpet to being in a wedding then you know you’re signing up for a cost!

June 12, 2018 12:55

Being a bridesmaid is so expensive sometimes. That’s why as a bride I am trying to make it as affordable as I can. Having the bachelorette party the same week as the wedding helps with my maids that are out of town so they only have to travel once!

June 08, 2018 11:03

It is SUPER expensive to be a bridesmaid or Maid of Honor, but what I found most helpful was to save up right after I was asked. I would just put a little bit away from each paycheck and put it in a jar so I wouldn’t touch it. I would never expect my bridesmaids to spend that much money on my wedding though, so I will cover as much as I possibly can! Kennedy Blue dresses are beautiful and affordable, so I’m excited to use these dresses for my bridal party!

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