I'm definitely going to lose friends over this, which might be a good thing considering participating in their weddings will be so expensive...
I had been bracing myself for this phone call ever since the secret, “I'm proposing... SHH!” email popped into my inbox. Why then, did I have to respond with an exasperated, “F****CK!” when my best friend dialed to share the exciting news that her now-fiancé had popped the question in bed moments before?
Oh, maybe because I just pulled up my bank account and I can barely afford the discount bottle of champagne and cab ride over to celebrate, let alone a bridesmaid dress.
And engagement gift. And wedding gift. And bachelorette party. And hair and makeup. And… F****CK. I did what any friend would do, I answered her hysterics with:
“Ah! Yay! Hold on, I'll be right over! Actually, um, maybe more like 20 minutes. I'm going to walk.”
Between the gifts, clothes and parties, an average bridesmaid spends about $1,500-$1,800 on each wedding.
I have a solid seven close friends whose weddings I will most likely be a bridesmaid in -- that's a staggering $11,550 to spend celebrating all my friends' marriages (and that's only the ones I'm participating in!).
Basically, I can choose to remain friends or remain paying rent in NYC.
...At least my budget will be a built-in wedding diet, right?
It's not that I'm ungrateful or bitter about being a bridesmaid at a lavish wedding; instead, I'm afraid of it. I've watched my older sister go through the number-crunching and financial struggles of being able to afford two best friends' weddings in one year.
Similarly, The Today Show reports that 10 percent of guests go into debt just to attend a wedding. With a writer's salary and already a $17 bottle of champagne on the bridesmaid bill, I'm scared I'm going to be another statistic.
It's no wonder 32 percent of UK brides admitted to no longer being friends with at least one of their bridesmaids after the reception. Being a bridesmaid is no easy feat. There's much grinning-and-bearing-it as you shell out anywhere from:
- $150 - $400 for a shapeless grey dress;
- $50 for alterations (ugh, too bad great Aunt Reina died);
- $200 for engagement, bridal shower, wedding gifts ('Murica!);
- $1,000 for Bachelorette party with flights, dinners and penis balloons, natch;
- $100 for shoes, hair, makeup and accessories; and
- $50 for hotel and transportation fees
= $1,500 - $1,800 cost of a bridesmaid per wedding
Deep breath. It's going to be okay. Just think about all the Instagram opportunities.
Being a groomsmen, however, is perplexingly cheaper. According to WeddingWire editor and weddings expert Kim Forrest, groomsmen don't have to spend as much as their bridesmaid counterparts.
He'll still pay around $200 for gifts, but he can rent his tux (or invest in one and re-wear it) and skip out on attending bridal showers and hair and makeup.
Assuming he doesn't overdo it with the strippers in Vegas, he's looking at a significantly lower cost.
After witnessing the mental anguish (Can I skip the fancy dinner but still chip in for the limo? What if I re-wear my shoes from Anne's wedding? Nobody is looking at my feet anyway…) and wallet-anxiety many bridesmaids before me have agonized over, I can't help but question if we're asking too much of our friends.
Especially at this young age (I'm 24) when we're still earning near entry-level salaries, how are we expected to fund both our lives and our social lives? In my case, all seven of them.
Hopefully, you have a sympathetic bride and friend, who won't burden you with outrageously priced gowns or over-the-top bachelorette theme parties that could double as the wedding itself.
As a bride will likely spend upward of $20,000 on her Big Day, she'll understand your need for budgeting.
And, if a slew of friends in your social circle are getting married in the same year, she'll realize firsthand how expensive it is to not only attend a wedding, but also to throw one yourself.
So, where can you cut costs? Fortunately, all of these bridesmaid charges aren't incurred all at once; they're generally spread out over the course of the year from your friend's engagement to her honeymoon. If you're just way too popular though, these expenses can add up to a hefty monthly bill.
While destination bachelorette parties are a ton of fun and uber trendy, they put a lot of pressure on bridesmaids to pay for out-of-budget trips they otherwise cannot afford (cough raises cough).
And, when you're helping foot the bill for the bride's trip as well, expenses get pricey fast. “If it is out of budget, I think it's okay for bridesmaids to say they are unable to afford and attend a destination bachelorette party.
They can offer to take the bride to a nice dinner (either with the rest of the bridal party or not) at a later date,” says wedding guru Forrest.
Another way to avoid additional fees? “A bridesmaid can also decline to get her hair and makeup professionally done if the bride isn't paying for that service and it's out of her budget,” adds Forrest. Remember, you're there to make your friend look good -- it's okay if your eyeliner doesn't stack up.
One more idea: plan ahead. At around $1,650 per friend, I'm basically going to have to start saving now if I plan on participating in all of my best friends' future weddings.
While I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, I've already begun cutting back on vacation time and new shoe purchases because I know I'll want all those things when I'm deep in the full-wedding-swing.
If I shop for sexy evening-wear, I make sure it's conservative enough to use at a future nuptial. If I purchase a new clutch, I ask myself if it could also double as a fancier evening purse.
I try to buy strappier shoes in neutral colors so they can be worn with any color bridesmaid dress. My jewelry tastes have switched from gaudy costume necklaces to classier fete attire.
For all my woes and fears about becoming a (sought-after, naturally) bridesmaid, I still really want to be a part of it all.
Being a bridesmaid isn't cheap, but then again neither are your best friendships.