There is no doubt about it. Being a part of a wedding party can be seriously expensive. And while you don't have to say yes to every wedding you are asked to go to or be a part of, when the wedding of a dear pal or family member comes along, chances are you will want to take part. So how do you budget for being a bridesmaid in advance of the big event?
Jessica Bishop, founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com, an online resource for saving money on a wedding, as well as the author of The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer, tells Bustle that it's a really good idea to start putting money aside in anticipation of weddings.
"If you're of the age where many of your friends are tying the knot each year, it's best to start a wedding guest savings fund that you regularly contribute to throughout the year," Bishop says. And if you get asked to be a member of a bridal party, having separate savings set aside for those expenses is a great way to not get into a financial pickle.
But once you've gotten that bridal party invite, and you decide that you do want to be a part of it, you're first going to want to calculate an approximate investment for the wedding, and start saving for it ASAP.
"Using an automated savings account [...] is great for this, so you can save the money before you have a chance to spend it," Bishop says.
Now, as a bridesmaid, there are several things you may have to pay or potentially chip in for, so you can start by making a list. Bishop says the basics are things like hair and makeup, accessories and shoes, your dress, your travel and accommodation for the wedding, the bachelorette party weekend, the potential shower contributions, and last but not least, a wedding gift. It's a lot!
So how, exactly, do you go about spending money responsibly for all of those things?
How you shop is obviously going to be important, Bishop says. "If you're a bridesmaid, try checking resale sites like Tradesy or Poshmark for used bridesmaids dresses — you could get lucky and score the dress you need for 50% off. You could also consider renting a dress or the perfect accessories via Rent the Runway."
Travel-wise, Bishop says, be strategic and do some research about booking flights at the best time for savings, and take advantage of flight price alerts via Google Flights or Skyscanner so you can get notified of any reductions in cost.
Of course, then there is also accommodations. Bishop says to consider splitting an Airbnb with other bridal party members or other wedding guests and avoid those pricey hotels that might be recommended. As for gifts, take advantage of online sales to score items from the gift registry for less.
And listen, you aren't alone if you are feeling the cost of other people's weddings deep in the pocket, even if you aren't a part of the bridal party. According to a survey from Nerdwallet, roughly 2 in 5 Americans, about 39%, say they typically use a credit card to cover the costs associated with attending a wedding, and 15% say they take money out of their savings account. Nearly 1 in 10 millennials, in fact, say they borrow money from their parents for the weddings they take part in.
Although it is certainly a lot to have to put aside for someone else's big day — especially if you don't get to pick the dress — with a little planning you'll be able to keep it budget-friendly. It's all in the name of love, after all.