When you say “yes” to being a bridesmaid, you are not only accepting a hugely honorable and important role in your friend or family member’s day, but you’re also committing to footing the bill for numerous bridesmaid expenses. Sure, purchasing the dress is an obvious one, but there are many others that creep up over the course of the months and weeks leading up to the big day. While bridesmaid duties, and the cost required to carry them out, can be overwhelming, it’s helpful to know what bridesmaids traditionally pay for.
To give you a heads up, we asked wedding planners to share some of the more surprising bridesmaid expenses that you’ll want to factor into your budget.
As if the sticker shock that comes along with making the dress purchase wasn’t enough, dress alterations might push you over the edge. “Very rarely do bridesmaids dresses fit as is,” explains Lindsey Sachs of COLLECTIVE/by Sachs in Boulder, Colorado and Minneapolis. For this reason, it’s best to assume that you’ll include some alterations in your bridesmaid expenses, even if it’s just the bottom hem so your dress doesn’t drag (or cause you to trip while you’re walking down the aisle!). When ordering your dress, Sachs suggests working closely with the bridal salon professionals to select a size that has the best chance of reducing alteration work to lessen your out-of-pocket expense.
Attire for other events
If you’re wondering, “what do bridesmaids pay for?” remember that they’re usually responsible for the other wedding-related events, such as the engagement party, shower, bachelorette party and the rehearsal dinner. Of course, you can wear wardrobe items you already own but depending on theme, weather and what still fits you, you might find yourself shelling out cash for some new items. “Try to plan ahead and maybe ask friends if they have any dresses you can borrow or look on sites such as rent the runway to save some dough,” suggests Jessica Janik of The Invisible Bridesmaid in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
You might already have a pair that works well with your dress, but your bride may also have a very specific shoe in mind—one that you’ll have to purchase. They might be expensive, they might be designer, but remember that you signed on for this, which means going along with the bride’s requests! If this bridesmaid expense is an issue for you, consider talking with the bride to find an alternative solution.
The bridal shower
Some bridal showers are thrown by the mother-of-the-bride, but some are thrown by the bridesmaids. This means you might be asked to chip in for expenses, along with the other bridesmaids. “Mimosa bars, creative food displays, and group gifts add up quickly,” says Sachs. She recommends establishing a realistic budget based on each host’s available budget and prioritizing the best way to use your dollars to achieve a memorable event.
All things beauty
Especially if the bride is having her makeup, hair and nails done for her big day, she will likely expect her bridal party to do the same—though if this is a requirement, the bride should foot the bill. If you are paying for hair and makeup yourself, be aware that of these services can add up to quite a lot in bridesmaid expenses, so it’s best to prepare in advance. Although pricey, Deb Erb of Simply Events Inc. in Lititz, Pennsylvania, recommends that bridesmaids do have hair and makeup done professionally so everyone looks good in pictures. “It could be a little awkward for photos, if the bride has the perfect look, and everyone else looks washed out with uneven skin tones and flat hair,” she adds. “Tips are also expected, so bring extra cash!”
Transportation and accommodations
Starting with the bachelorette party, Sachs points out that many bridesmaids split not only the food and beverage for the bride, but also her travel and accommodations (lodging, taxis, or rental car). “These added cost creeps up quickly and should be discussed among the group before making the decision to plan a destination bachelorette party,” she says. Additionally, as the wedding day rolls around, many bridesmaids forget the costs of booking hotels and any flights, trains or buses required for them to reach their destination. First thing first: Check with the bride to see if she may have a discounted rate. Often, for weddings, hotels will do discounted room blocks, which can save you some money.