The Average Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

It’s More Than Just A Dress


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What is the average cost of being a bridesmaid? The long and the short of it is that it varies. But no matter the wedding, when you say “yes!” you sign up for a financial and time commitment of some sort. Here’s an idea of the extra costs associated with being a bridesmaid. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Dress + Alterations: Does the bride want everyone to wear the exact same dress, the exact same color, or different dresses and colors? Depending on her vision, your bridesmaid dress cost may range from $30 (there are so many cute bridesmaid dresses under $100!) to more than $200. Alterations can add $60-$80 to the cost of a dress. Ask the bride early on what she’s thinking so you have plenty of time to save up—and get an amazing deal. Most bridesmaid dresses are not custom-made. Nearly all bridesmaid dresses will need to be altered in some way – shortened, taken in, straps added, etc. Consider these additional costs when purchasing.
  • Parties: Bridesmaids, maid of honor, and family members are expected to throw and attend several parties leading up to the big day. 
    • Engagement Party– this can include making food, decorating, and even possibly hosting if the event has a smaller number of guests.
    • Bridal Shower– along with assistance in planning, providing party favors, decoration or sharing the cost of the venue.
    • Bachelorette Party – this can include travel if there is a destination bachelorette party, airfare, gas, rental car, hotel, food and entertainment. A weekend away will be much more expensive than one night out.
  • Travel: Most of the time the wedding is close to where you live. For some, however, attending a wedding means traveling. This can range from a $30 tank of gas to a $650+ cross-country flight. Travel costs can be for the actual wedding, the shower, and the parties associated with the pre-wedding events.
  • Accommodations: Accompanying travel, most of the time you’ll have to spend 1-2 nights in a hotel even if you live close. Sometimes more depending on if it’s a destination wedding across the country. On average, bridesmaids spend about $200 on accommodation cost. Even if it is a local wedding, sometimes the bride wants to have her bridesmaids with her the night before the wedding. One last single girl’s night before the big day.
  • Gifts: The number of gifts you give can add up. From a wedding shower gift, lingerie for the bachelorette party, and a wedding gift. Even though you’re already paying a lot to be part of the wedding, it’s still expected to give a gift during all the pre-wedding events. This is where most of your costs can add up quickly. One way to potentially alleviate the gift pressure is to go in on a gift with a fellow bridesmaid. That way you’re still getting the couple something they want/need but at a smaller financial contribution. On average, bridesmaids spend between $100 and $150 on wedding gifts.
  • Hair, Makeup, and Accessories: Many brides will want the bridal party to get their hair, makeup, and nails done together for the wedding. This goes along with matching accessories and shoes for the big day as well. Some brides may pay for hair and make-up if she requires everyone get done professionally. Hair and make-up can cost around $100 and accessories can easily add another $100 as well. Factor these added expenses when planning to be a bridesmaid.

Cost Saving Tips

Keep in mind if you plan ahead you can find savings in most of these cost areas. Depending on the bride’s vision, if she is flexible in some of these areas, you can find great deals if you spend some time researching, shopping around, comparing prices. Planning ahead is key as if you have more time, you obviously have more options to search for savings.

Reservations: there can be discounts on travel reservations when making them ahead of time. Airfare and hotels often offer various promotions that can be beneficial to your wallet.

Dress and shoes: shop around and compare prices. If the bride is somewhat flexible, offer to shop around for her and provide some options. You might be surprised of the price differences for dresses and shoes, just in the color you choose.

Accessories: this is an area that can widely range in price. Spend time researching your options before you purchase. Look for sales, coupons and other discounts. 

Hair and Make-up: look for group discounts and less expensive options with stylists looking for grow their clientele or business. Of course, always get recommendations and ratings from past customers. 

Gifts: there are so many gift options with a wide range of costs. Coupons, discounts and sales are around for even the most expensive of items. Again, planning ahead makes this easier as you have time to shop around and wait for the discounts. A group gift can also cut down individual expenses and sometimes allow for a more expensive gift that is treasured.

Parties: at home parties can cut down on costs. If one of the bridesmaids has a place to have a party and doesn’t mind this can be a great idea. Possibly the parents of the bride will offer their home or yard to host one of the party events. This can make for a special and endearing event. Plan for a tent if outdoors as you can never count on a sunny day. Making decoration and food can also cut down on the costs.

Brides: Discuss your expectations for Bridesmaid Duties

When asked to be in a wedding, talk about your expectations for your bridesmaid duties. Do you want a destination bachelorette party? Are you expecting everyone to have a$300 dress? What will you be covering for cost vs. the bridesmaid? It seems like a simple conversation but having this early on will help avoid any awkward or unpleasant surprises later. Besides, your good friends should understand your financial situation and it will help the bride understand what a priority is vs. what can be downgraded a bit.

The Time Aspect of Being a Bridesmaid

As we established, it can be expensive to be a bridesmaid, but you are on board and are excited to be part of the couple’s big day. Great! It’s also important to understand the time commitment you are fulfilling as well. Not only will you be expected at several pre-wedding events, but you will also be expected to be emotionally invested in helping the bride achieve her vision for the big day. As a bridesmaid, you should help the bride stay calm and make it as easy as possible for the bride to make decisions.

What If You Can’t Afford The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

Sometimes, no matter how much you want to make it work, financially it just isn’t feasible. Nobody wants to let their friend down, but you can’t argue with your budget and current financial situation.

If you know you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid but still want to support the bride and couple on their big day, ask to take on a different role. There are plenty of roles beyond the wedding party with a much lower financial commitment. Offer to be a passage reader, a program attendant, or even a personal attendant.

Being asked to be a bridesmaid on someone’s special day is priceless, and you’ll make memories that last a lifetime. Just be sure to keep the financial responsibility in mind to make sure the cost of being a bridesmaid doesn’t set you too far back. The bride will be so happy to have you play a big role in her wedding day—and she’ll be thrilled to return the favor when it’s your turn.

Featured photo by @daniellelozeau

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The Average Cost of Being a Bridesmaid