The first time you're asked to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, you will probably be thrilled. By the third or fourth time, you'll be tallying the costs in your head as you answer. I didn't realize how pricey it can be to stand next to a friend on the big day until I was actually asked to be a bridesmaid a few times. WeddingWire says it costs, on average, $1,200 to be a bridesmaid, which sounds startling, but emotionally feels like the low end of the bridesmaid spectrum. If you're asked to be a bridesmaid, you're going to need some bridesmaid budgeting tips — and legit ones, too. No one wants to bother the bride or groom during the stressful wedding planning process, but enduring financial strain as a bridesmaid isn't ideal, either. If you're not sure what to do about looming wedding costs, you aren't alone.
According to Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert and Chase Slate Financial Education Ambassador, it's possible to be in a wedding without spending loads of money. "I myself have been a bridesmaid and even a bride," she tells Bustle. "There are a lot of things you can do to save money when you plan ahead and talk to each other." She shared five tips with Bustle that will allow any bridesmaid to save money and still have fun.
1. Be Honest
It seems unthinkable to turn down an invitation to be in the wedding party, but you don't want to waste your time or the bride's, so talk to your friend upfront if you don't think you can swing it. "The biggest question: Can you even afford to be in this wedding?" Torabi says. Once the bride knows your financial situation and you know her expectations, it's much easier to determine whether it's a possibility. If you can't afford it, let the couple know as soon as you can — and Torabi says to make sure you mean it. "It's like telling your boss you want to quit," she says. It's not an easy decision to walk back from.
2. Put Money Aside
"If a lot of people consider you a close friend, it's safe to say you'll be expected to be in weddings," Torabi says. If you decide to accept a bridesmaid invitation, it's a good idea to start saving. If the bride expects you to pay for your dress, makeup, hair and shoes, along with chipping in for events like the bachelorette party and bridal shower, you'll need to prepare — not to mention the travel costs involved with getting to the wedding. She recommends saving money before you're even asked to be a bridesmaid if you have a ton of friends. "If you end up not having to use that money, you can always reallocate it for another goal," she says.
3. Save Money On The Dress
For most weddings, Torabi says, "The dress is sort of non-negotiable. The bride will want you to look a certain way." But you can save money on your wedding day outfit by buying secondhand or look for sales, she tells Bustle. And if your friend is open to suggestions, recommend mis-matched dresses, which is very on trend right now.
4. Give A Modest Present
If you're already shelling out money to be in a wedding party, you don't have to go all out for a registry gift. There's a decent chance that your friend is reasonable and will want you to do what's most fiscally responsible, so don't feel bad if you show up with something less lavish. Torabi says it's ideal to split the costs of a big-ticket gift, which can save you money in the long run. You can also give a sentimental gift like handmade artwork. "If you're super creative or you have a talent, you can gift your skills," she says. "I think that's totally fine — you are giving the gift of your time and your expertise."
5. Talk To Other Bridesmaids
One of the easiest way to save money on wedding is to talk to other members of the bridal party. You can share a hotel room with other bridesmaids and brainstorm ways to host an awesome bachelorette party without breaking the bank. Torabi tells Bustle there's nothing wrong with getting creative and hosting a bachelorette party at someone's home — a wine tasting where everyone brings a bottle from a different part of the world, for example.
There's always a chance that the bride will be financially demanding, she says, but in most cases, your friend will get where you're coming from. Weddings are supposed to be fun, and being worried about how you'll pay takes away from that. With some preparation and out-of-the-box thinking, you may be able to make it work without stressing.