The Sweet Christian Bride

10 Considerations for Choosing a Bridal Party: #10

by admin on January 10, 2013 in Bridal Party, Budget with No Comments

Consideration #10: How extensive is your budget?

An average range for a bridesmaid dress in America is $100-200.  Alterations can add another $50+, shoes another $30-150, hair and make-up (if done by a professional) an additional $50+.  That’s not even including the expenses for the bachelorette party, shower gifts, transportation and housing for the wedding weekend, and potential time off work to attend all of the events.

Being a bridesmaid is expensive!

Considering that your bridesmaids are saying yes to your invitation because they love and support you and not based on their financial capacity, it is wise to be very sensitive to how much you are asking your bridesmaids to spend.

In this economy and in the “newlywed” stage of life, many bridesmaids have student loans to pay off, entry-level pay checks, and little clout with their bosses.  They might not anticipate their cost of saying yes to being your bridesmaid because they love you too much to even think of saying no.  But you can anticipate it for them.

While there is no expectation as a bridesmaid that anything will be complimentary, my personal feeling is that if you, the bride, cannot keep expenses down for your bridal party, then as a courtesy, you should cover some of their costs.  This means that if you cannot afford to have a big bridal party, you should keep it small.

Frequently brides—if they can—try to help out with expenses by paying for the bridesmaids’ shoes or chipping in for part of the dress if it is expensive.  Again, this is not an expectation but a courtesy, if possible.  Your wedding obviously needs to come first, especially if you have a modest budget.

If you do have a modest budget, you can find other ways to extend this courtesy such as allowing your bridesmaids to wear dresses they already have (that fit within your color scheme and desired length/style) or selecting several dress options and allowing your bridesmaids to choose.

Or if your bridesmaids’ total cost is modest and doable without your financial help, then it is always a nice treat if the bride can pay for the bridesmaids’ nails or hair, or if she throws a brunch for the girls.

Every bride’s budget is different, so if you can’t budget that in, then you can’t, and your bridesmaids will still love being a part of your wedding.  If you do have a bigger budget, however, and you are asking such a weighty (and expensive) commitment from these women, honoring them in ways that are proportional to your overall wedding budget can go a long way in expressing your love and gratitude for them.

In other words, you are spending so much money on your special day and asking other people to spend money on you too in order to be a part of the celebration.  If their presence, their dress choice, their hair style, etc. is important to your wedding experience, then it would be appropriate to budget them in.

My wedding had a fairly high budget.  Chris and I spent a lot of money on us.  We also chose to have a large bridal party (seven each).  He and I were well aware of the financial commitment we were asking of our bridal party, so we moved some dollars around away from us and towards our bridal party.

Though my bridesmaids did have to purchase their own dresses, we picked up the cost of their shoes, their jewelry, and their manicures.  They were allowed to style their hair and wear their make-up however they wanted, and I didn’t need for them to come to every shower or buy me gifts.  For those who had traveled to the wedding, we covered the cost of their hotel rooms.

When it came time to choose gifts for my bridesmaids, I wanted them to feel prioritized as much as possible.  Because it was evident that a lot of money was spent on flowers and a band and other wedding features, I didn’t want them to feel under-acknowledged with a token gift.  Instead, I researched spas in their home towns and had gift certificates mailed to me for a spa treatment.  The intention was for them to feel more important to me than my flowers or my band were.

If your budget doesn’t allow for covering some of your bridesmaids’ costs, you can find other ways to get the point across to them that they are important to you.  Money is only one vehicle for showing them love.  Your time, your words, and your consideration in the details are all free ways to demonstrate to these women that you are honoring them.



Photo © John Yao, SimplyTwo Photography, featuring Annie and Henry’s wedding

Article was originally published on February 2, 2011.

By Lindsay

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