Photo: Patrick Nied Photography
While sticking to your own wedding budget is important, remember that your nearest and dearest probably have budgets of their own. Attending a wedding can be expensive in itself (especially if there’s travel involved), and that’s multiplied if you’re in the wedding party.
Talk to them in advance
After you’ve asked your BFFs to be in the bridal party, have an open and honest discussion with each of them (privately) about any concerns they might have about participating—whether it be budget, time off from work, or something else. Let them know that you understand that being a bridesmaid is a big undertaking and you want them to feel that they can come to you with any issues that may arise—and you’ll be able to plan for how you can best assist them.
Let them have a say in what they wear
Find out what your bridesmaids’ budgets are before you start shopping for dresses to help narrow things down. Then, you can allow them some flexibility in terms of the particular style they wear. You can pick out a designer and general dress style, but allow them to pick the neckline or color. Or, you can let your ‘maids choose any dress they’d like within a certain palette. Either way, not forcing your bridesmaids into one specific dress will be appreciated among your gals.
Don’t go overboard with accessories
Shoes, headbands, jewelry, oh my! Adding tons of accessories to your bridesmaids’ ensembles can really cause some damage to your ‘maids budgets. We recommend purchasing any additional required accessories for your bridesmaids, or being flexible on the accessories they wear. Instead of giving them a specific shoe that they must wear, simply ask them to wear a “silver shoe” (or whatever color works with your palette). Bridesmaid looks are becoming less matchy-matchy these days anyway, so allowing your girls a little individuality will go a long way.
Provide options for travel and accommodations
One of the most expensive parts of being a wedding guest is dealing with travel. If you’re hosting a wedding in a city or town where everyone lives, this is a moot point, but that’s rarely the case nowadays. If your bridesmaids are going to be traveling and staying in hotels, help them out by provide several hotel options at different price points. Sure, there may be a ‘maid who will want to splurge on fancy lodging, but for the most part, your bridesmaids will want to stay somewhere budget-friendly. Look into group discounts for hotels and flights, and help single guests connect to potentially room-share, if that’s of interest.
Be flexible on pre-wedding events
Don’t make demands when it comes to your bridal shower and bachelorette party. Let your bridesmaids take the lead and make the plans—they’ll obviously have your personality and wishes in mind, but also consider their own budgets. If a destination bachelorette party is planned, you may end up with a bridesmaid or two that can’t attend for budget reasons. Even though you may be disappointed, be understanding—perhaps your ‘maid can arrange a special dinner or other bachelorette event locally that isn’t such a budget-buster.
Your bridesmaids are there to help, not buy
Don’t make your bridesmaids purchase things for you related to your wedding—that’s not their job. They can help you with tasks, like sealing envelopes or putting together favors, but they shouldn’t be the ones doing any of the purchasing. Sure, you can ask your friend who loves to hit the flea markets to help you scout out a vintage mirror for your seating chart, but you better pay her back if she purchases one!
Don’t make them have professional hair and makeup
Allow your bridesmaids the option of getting their hair and makeup professionally done—but don’t force them into it. If you decide that you would like everyone to have a pro handle their hair and makeup, you should be the one paying for it (and by the way, paying for hair and makeup does not count as a bridesmaid gift—you should still get them one of those, too).
Give useful and generous gifts
When it comes to bridesmaid gifts, it can be helpful to gift your ‘maids an accessory they can wear both during the wedding and after the fact, as well. That way, they won’t have to buy accessories for themselves, and will have the bonus of an item they can wear to other events. Alternatively, buy them something they will find useful in other ways—perhaps a splurge they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves, like personalized stationery or a monogrammed robe. And of course, make sure to include a handwritten thank-you note, expressing how much you appreciate their friendship and support.