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The Frugal Bridesmaid Handbook, in 4 Simple Steps

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Bride posing with her bridesmaids.
Getty Images

When my best friend asked me to be her maid of honor, I was flattered and financially horrified.

She lives in Texas, while I live in New York. The airfare and hotel would tip towards $500. Dollar signs flashed in front of my eyes as I calculated the cost of the bachelorette party, a bridal shower, gifts, the dress, accessories and bridesmaids kits. I started to have heart palpitations but pasted on a smile and sputtered out, "of course!" in a strangely high-pitched voice.

As the maid of honor, I unearthed four tenets for being a successful yet frugal bridesmaid.

Hyperbole aside, I felt honored she choose to have me stand up next to her on such a monumental day. However, I quickly became concerned with keeping the experience cost-effective, since I have three other weddings to attend this year -- all of which require travel.

Unlike the portrayals of brides in pop culture, my friend elected to be a fiscally responsible and incredibly conscientious about her relatively cash-poor, young bridesmaids.

As the maid of honor, I unearthed four tenets for being a successful yet frugal bridesmaid. Important skills since the cost of being a bridesmaid (dress, shoes, accessories, travel, bridal shower, bachelorette parties and gifts) averaged $1,695 in 2011, according to Mint.com and Wedding Republic.

1. Set Budgets With the Other Bridesmaids

Even if you had visions of Vegas dancing through your head, the other bridesmaids may not be able to afford your version of a bachelorette party.

It's important to have the open -- sometimes awkward -- conversations with other bridesmaids about their budgets and financial expectations for all wedding-related events.

Be understanding if a bridesmaid has to bow out of the bachelorette party or bridal shower because she can't afford the cost.

Consider a party as centrally located to a majority of the group as possible. If -- like in my case -- bridesmaids are flung across the Eastern seaboard, do the bridal shower and bachelorette party in the same weekend to avoid extra doses of travel.

2. Beware of Pinterest

Pinterest may offer creative ideas for frugal wedding decorations, but it also makes the average, non-crafty woman feel incredibly inadequate.

The maid of honor is responsible for creating kits for the bride and other bridesmaids for the wedding day. Be warned that Pinterest makes all your attempts at aesthetically pleasing kits look like a 3-year-old went after a cream-colored wall with finger paint.

You also don't need everything recommended in those Monet-level kits. The other bridesmaids really just want alcohol, pain killers and a snack. You can't go wrong with bobby pins, either.

3. Be Honest With the Bride

If your bride takes the dangerous turn into becoming into a stage-five bridezilla, then be sure to discuss your concerns with her. If the bridesmaids dresses are $300, try finding a cheaper version to show her. If she wants you forking over $150 for designer shoes, then hunt through discount brand stores and websites to offer an affordable option. Depending on your bride, consider setting a budget with her based on what you and the other bridesmaids can afford.

Remember, you aren't obligated to say yes to being a bridesmaid. If you simply can't afford the cost, then be honest with her right away. Don't back out at the last minute.

4. Smile

Should you accept the honor to stand with your friend or family member on her special day, then remember your goal is ultimately to be supportive, loving and smiling -- no matter the price.

Erin Lowry writes for DailyFinance on issues relating to millennials, money and personal finance. She is the blogger behind Broke Millennial, where her sarcastic sense of humor entertains and educates her peers. She is also the brand and content manager for MagnifyMoney.

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4 Comments

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zulma

The best way to save money is to say, NO THANK YOU.

June 29 2014 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
riognach

My sister and I had oru bridesmaids dresses made by helpful family members. simple flowers. My own dress was made forme as well. Shower art my Godmother's home in her rear garden was lovely. Not one of these big, superfical potlatch affairs. (and I live in suburban New York!!). Why does anyone need a bachelorette party? Then don't get married if you think you will miss your single life so much you have to have "one final go' at it. And you should always take time to se your girlfriends, married or not. Just not at Chippendales... A wedding is a ceremony of commitment - try to remember that, instead of trying to plan "the party of the year'. You can have a beautiful ceremony and still have fun without all the over-the-top expensive hoo-hah.

June 29 2014 at 1:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
SPQR

Just borrow a friends wedding dress

June 28 2014 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pammy Annie

I bought patterns and material for my bridesmaids gowns....they all knew how to sew. I said they could just wear any white shoe with a 2" heel. I made the headpieces. Easy. Breezy. Simple. and most of all, inexpensive.

June 28 2014 at 2:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply