Wedding season is about to start. I understand all the excitement, a wedding is one of the most important days of a woman’s life. A day when she wants everything to be perfect – perfect wedding dress, perfect venue, perfect pictures... you get the point. Ever notice how elaborate weddings have become these days?

I was in my early 20’s the first time I became a bridesmaid in a very simple but elegant wedding. My bridesmaid dress cost $48, shoes cost me $30… even the bride’s wedding dress cost $100. Her wedding shower was a backyard BBQ (one of the best I remember), and bachelorette party was just a very memorable (or maybe not) night out with the girls.

Years later, they’re still happily married and I remember that wedding as being one of my favorite.

These days, my friends’ wedding are, what I consider, way over the top – two wedding dresses, overdone wedding showers and weekend-long bachelorette parties out of town. Of course this also means that the cost of being a bridesmaid at one of these weddings is also going to be over the top.

The average cost of being a bridesmaid is $1,695. I’ve been a bridesmaid nine times in my life. I know I’ve spent closer to the $2,000 figure for most of the weddings, that’s roughly $18,000!! Imagine what I could have done with that money.

The Dress

The most I’ve spent on a bridesmaid dress was $980 – I call it ‘The Purple Mess’. It’s still hanging in the back of my closet. I can’t bear to throw it out because I feel like I’m throwing out cash. As much as I hate it, I’m determined to wear it at least one more time… I haven’t done that to myself yet. Most bridesmaid dresses don’t cost this much, but expect to spent at least $150.

Hair/Makeup, Jewellery & Other Items

This is the stuff you forget to account for when budgeting to be a bridesmaid – shoes, manicures/pedicures (for the wedding and the shower), getting your hair and makeup done. And every good outfit needs jewellery. In my last experience as a bridesmaid, I was lucky enough to have the bride give us beautiful Stella and Dot  necklaces (awesome gift), but more often than not, you’re responsible for buying your own jewellery.

It doesn’t stop there, you forgot lingerie – you have to have the right bra for most bridesmaid dresses. Unless of course, you’re one of the lucky women out there who can pull off wearing a dress without a bra. I’d budget at least $300 for these items.

Bridal/Wedding Shower

Wedding etiquette states that the maid of honor or all the bridesmaids generally throw the wedding shower, which means they pay for it. The last time two wedding I was in however,  all of the bridesmaids threw the shower. It cost us about $300 each that covered the venue, food and entertainment. Don’t forget that you generally still have to give a gift.

Bachelorette Party

Although it’s acceptable for a bride to cover the cost, I’ve never experienced that. The bridesmaids generally pay for the bachelorette party, which includes limo, food, entertainment and drinks. The trend these days is have a bachelorette party out of town. If that’s the case, you now get to add of travel and accommodation costs to your budget. The least I’ve spent is $100 and the most $800.

Taking time off from work

Two years ago a friend asked me to be one of her 8 bridesmaids at her destination wedding. She’d also already planned her own four-day bachelorette party out of town (a bridezilla waiting to happen). I knew then that I had to decline. I simply can’t afford to be away from work for over a week in total for this wedding. AND it’s not even a vacation!

When you’re self-employed, it’s even harder to take that much time off. I thought about the lost income and decided I had to say no.

Destination Wedding

Many couples go for destination weddings, which often ends up saving them money. If you’re a bridesmaid however, it ends up costing you more. You have to budget for transportation and accommodation costs as well as the opportunity cost of taking time off from work (again, lost income).

Wedding Gift

You thought being in the wedding party was your gift? That’s nice and all, but you also have to give the bride and groom a wedding gift. Most will have registered, and if you lucky enough to have options from high-end or lower-end items, you’re set. The key is to buy the gift early as with registries, you’re often left with the more expensive items as you get closer to the wedding… the ones everyone gawked at and refused to buy. I’d budget $100+.

A few years ago, while holding a depressing credit card statement after a wedding, I decided to make drastic  changes to my money habits. Those changes meant that I would be hanging up my bridesmaid shoes and I’ve managed to stick to that resolution. I got over the fear of saying no when asked to be a bridesmaid. I now have a fantastic time at weddings as a guest knowing that I won’t open one of those credit card statements again.

How much did you spend the last time you were a bridesmaid?

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