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How to Be a Bridesmaid on a Budget

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Being asked to be a bridesmaid or maid of honor for a friend or family member’s wedding is generally a great honor — but that honor can end up costing you a bundle. From bridal showers to bachelorette parties and gowns to hair and makeup, you can wind up spending a fortune. So before you say yes, make sure it’s the right fit for your wallet. And if you have decided to take on the task, here are few ways to save while doing so.

1. Dress & Shoes

The bride may say yes to the dress, but your wallet may not. In most weddings, the bridal party outfit is chosen by the couple, and they may neglect to consider affordability. Consider having an honest chat with the bride to see if she is okay with setting a reasonable limit on dress costs and offer to help her do some comparison shopping. Sometimes you can find the same or a similar style for a cheaper price at a different store or online. It is also becoming more and more common for the bride to pick a color scheme and allow the bridal party to choose their own dress. Consider suggesting this to the bride, as this allows you to directly control how much you’ll spend on your outfit.

2. Bridal Shower

The bridal shower is often paid for by the bridesmaids. Even if there are a bunch of you splitting the bill, it can still wind up costing a pretty penny. If you’re asked to host, sit down with the other bridesmaids to set out a budget before you start planning and have a chat about who will be taking care of what and ways in which you can cut costs. Consider making it a more intimate affair, making your own favors and each making a dish instead of having the event catered.

3. Bachelorette Party

This where you have a little bit of flexibility. If you live out-of-state or can’t afford something extravagant like a weekend in Las Vegas, feel free to put your foot down. The bachelorette party is meant to be a carefree night out, but it won’t be so carefree if you are worrying the whole time about how much it will cost you. You can discuss bachelorette party options with the rest of the bridal party; inform them that you are strapped for cash and offer up some other exciting alternatives. If the majority ends up deciding on something more extravagant that is out of your budget, it’s more than reasonable for you to opt out of this event.

4. Hair & Makeup

Depending on the couple’s own financial situation and the budget for their wedding, they often offer to cover the costs of hair and makeup for the bridesmaids. However, this is not always the case, so be sure to double check with the bride so you can either budget ahead of time or have a discussion with the bride about whether she’s okay with letting you do your own hair and makeup.

5. Travel & Accommodations

This is where sometimes things can get quite expensive, especially if the couple chooses to have a destination wedding. Consider all the costs associated with getting to and from the wedding and where you’ll be staying. To save money, book your flights and hotels as early as possible and consider sharing a hotel room with a couple of friends. If you know there’s simply no way you can afford to attend your friend’s wedding in the Tuscan countryside or a Jamaican beach, let her know sooner rather than later that money is just too tight and you’ll have to miss out.

6. Gift

After all that … you still have to get a gift! It is generally customary to cover the cost of your plate with your wedding gift, but if you are strapped for cash, the bride will (likely) understand. Rather than a monetary gift, get creative and think of something sentimental you can get the bride instead, or consider splitting the cost of a larger registry item with a few people to make it more affordable.

No matter what, keep calm and enjoy the wedding! Weddings are meant to be a fun and joyous special occasion, but if something is way out of your budget, it’s okay to speak your mind. To avoid any possible tension or awkwardness, consider having a frank discussion about funds soon after you are asked to be a part of the bridal party so that you can make a decision accordingly.

If you do decide to join the party, adjust your budget to allow for these expenses and avoid charging big expenses to your credit card unless you can pay it off in full at the end of the month. (High amounts of debt can hurt your credit. You can see where your credit currently stands by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing two of your scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.) At the end of the day, the bride is your friend and/or family and will thank you for being honest instead of putting yourself through unnecessary financial stress.

Image: Agnieszka Kirinicjanow

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